As most of us already know, on June 6th JaGex released a new item to be obtained exclusively from the Squeal of Fortune (SoF). However this time, unlike ALL other SoF items, the newly released Fish Mask was released as a tradable item. Considering the fact that item is only available for a limited time, it will be discontinued after the end of the summer and therefore, with its tradable property, it will become another discontinued item, carrying the same status as the very sought after party hats. However, is this really the case for the Fish Mask? Is it really going to become the next party hat?
Initially, my reaction to the Fish Mask, especially with the giant banner ad advertising its tradable status in the game lobby, was outrage. How could JaGex commit such a massive policy change yet again in hopes of blatantly milking more money out of its players? Then again, the entire premise of SoF is an outrage itself so I merely overlooked that aspect of the Fish Mask release and concentrated on it as just another discontinued item.
With this in mind and currently thinking of the Fish Mask on the same playing field as other rares, the first question to answer is whether or not the Fish Mask will actually rise to the same status as the other discontinued items have. The answer is simply, of course it will, with enough time. Considering the supply of Fish Masks will be, eventually, ever decreasing and therefore becoming rarer and rarer, it will reach the same status of party hats someday. However, that day has a small likelihood of ever becoming a reality.
First of all, the Fish Masks will just have too high of a supply for them to become sought after in the near future. With EVERY member getting two spins per day, at least, all Free to Play players getting one spin per day, and all the other extra spins obtained from drops and quest completion, the amount of Fish Masks in let alone the first week, when they are on the uncommon slot, will be large enough to supply all the players who want masks with masks for a reasonable price. Moreover, with the ability to buy spins AND the fact that the Fish Mask will be available for the remainder of the summer on the rare slot, just further increases the amount of Fish Masks in game. Furthermore, the amount of players playing today versus the amount of players playing when Santa Hats were released, is just immensely higher and therefore the number of Fish Masks circulating through the market is naturally much higher.
Moreover, the only way Fish Masks can become rare is if they become a reasonable and reliable way to be considered a cash holding item by merchants. Party hats prove a very valuable way of doing so as they are very high priced and can hold a lot of cash very stably. As the price of a rare decreases and supply of the rare increases (i.e. a party hat is more stable than a Santa Hat because of its small supply and high price), the less stable it is and therefore the less reliable method of holding money it becomes. With the Fish Mask having high supply and very low price, it is just a bad item to invest your overflowing cash stack in. There is just no way to control enough of the supply of Fish Masks to make sure they remain stable, like merchants are able to do with party hats, and therefore the price is really uncontrollable. What if a new money sink skill like Summoning or Construction comes out? Well, people would dump their Fish Masks in order to obtain the money needed to train the skill and merchants would lose a lot of money if the price were to drop.
So if merchants are not really going to hoard them, how will they have potential to become rare if the supply isn't going to be lessened? Well, the Fish Mask won’t, not without a lot of time. That means the supply has to slowly drop due to people quitting and leaving them in their bank - and there lies another issue. With the Grand Exchange, it is so easy for someone to dump an item in the exchange, wait for it to sell and coincidently forget about it, versus pre-Grand Exchange were you would have to go World 2 or the Forums to sell your item. Therefore, standing GE offers to sell Fish Masks could exist and so they wouldn't just sit in the bank, not like rares used to; thus a smaller amount of Fish Masks will leave the game via people quitting than other rares.
Finally, the Fish Mask honestly couldn't have been released at a worse time. If you haven't noticed, the economy seems to be in a whirlwind, a crashing one at that. Most items are crashing harder than ever before. If you haven't looked, Dragon Claws are under 10M and Armadyl top and bottom sell together for around 13M when just a week or two ago each piece was alone worth that much. This is all thanks to the speculation on the upcoming combat update and the release of Royal Dragonhide. People want a big cash stack again to be able to invest in the items that are going to be the next Armadyl Godsword or the next Torva when the combat beta comes out in order to make a major profit. If you want more examples of the economy in a whirlwind, take a look at the top 100 most valuable traded items page on the Grand Exchange and look through all the recent major price drops in high valued items such as Nex armor and Spirit Shields. Therefore, no one, especially merchants, wants to invest in anything (i.e. Fish Masks) in order to have enough money to successfully make a major profit from the combat update.
In fine, yes, Fish Masks will become a discontinued item, but I doubt they will reach the status that even Santa Hats, let alone party hats, have reached in ten years. There are simply too many of them in the market and they do not come across as a good enough item for merchants to take ahold of and artificially inflate the price. Moreover, there is a possibility for JaGex to release more tradable and discontinued items on the SoF, which would further make it harder for Fish Masks, and any other SoF rare item to gain grip as a valuable discontinued item.
Another note to bring up is the major JaGex policy change, which honestly wasn't surprising in light of recent events. If you take a look at the Squeal of Neptune FAQ (Quick find code: 15-16-84-63773253) it seems like JaGex wanted another rare in to the economy. Moreover, with a high alchemy price of 270,000 GP, it seems that JaGex wants to make sure the Fish Mask stays a valuable item (this is in comparison to the high alchemy values of other rares). However, with all the recent policy reversals it seems like JaGex wants to get the most money out of RuneScape as possible, but writing about recent policy changes is another article entirely so I digress. I also didn't mention speculation of RuneScape not being around long enough for the Fish Masks to ever take hold because honestly, you never know. No one would have guessed that RuneScape would be around today, ten years ago, and we certainly don't know it won’t be, ten years from now, although it may seem to be heading that way. One thing’s for sure though: there is a very small chance the Fish Mask will become any sort of valuable rare, so if it enrages you that they made such a policy change, just calm down and be thankful JaGex didn't decide to make it rarer by limiting the window in which you can receive it and receive more profit from the abysmal SoF.