It’s December! Which means presents, sales, friends, family… aaand End of Year Events across a range of games! It’s always great – developers preparing content to see the year off with their player-base, usually around a winter-Christmas theme, content to be playable and fresh through until the next year… it’s almost a tradition of online games to have end of year holiday events in their games, which is great! A winter-y theme to keep us engaged.
This has been a tradition for over a decade now, going back to Runescape’s adoption of Christmas-themed updates, with the addition of Christmas crackers and Party Hats in 2001. Today, due to the in-game economy, these items are worth insane amounts of in-game currency.
Since this time, Jagex, the developers of Runescape, got really creative with their Christmas events – bringing in quests, event-restrictive lands, items and emotes the players could obtain for participating in the events whilst they were still live.
Runescape was subjected to intense success over the decade that followed. The success of games like Runescape that brought on Christmas events would be echoed through online games throughout years to follow, up to today, where every popular game on the online market has an end of year event to some capacity.
It’s set a good example of seasonal events – Runescape also runs events for Easter and Halloween with similar frameworks, and did it before a lot of major titles jumped on board.
This year, Old School Runescape players will be spoiled with the “2018 Christmas Event”, taking place in the city of Lumbridge, and acting as a quest – the city’s castle has been covered in snow to fit the theme!
Today there’s still not a massive range of winter-season events, but for what we’ve got across the titles that do support the merry season, we’re pretty spoiled by the developers!
Overwatch probably has the most well-known holiday event – Winter Wonderland. Blizzard has changed things up in the past, bringing about seasonal game-modes like “Yeti-Hunt”, kind of like a boss fight mode, and “Mei’s Snowball Offensive”, but come on, we stick around for the skins, and this year uncle Jeff’s team has spoiled Overwatch players with cosmetic items.
If you’d like to see a community get way excited over a new cosmetic, venture over to r/SymmetraMains – they absolutely lost their minds when it was announced the hero they play the most of would be getting a fabulous new skin.
Beyond the cosmetics and events, Overwatch maps are also adorned in seasonal decoration – this year, Blizzard World has been given a coat of snow – in previous years, Hanamura, Kings Row and Eco Point: Antarctica have received decorations for the time.
And that’s where a lot of games usually end their seasonal thrill – with decorating maps and cosmetics – which is great! As if we’d expect a game-changing addition to our games at this time of year!
Destiny 2 runs an event called “Dawning”, which taps into the more quest-oriented vein of seasonal events, tasking players with making holiday goodies. A holiday-themed Sparrow lies at the end of the tasks completion.
Grand Theft Auto: Online gives its map a snow-job, and allows players to pick snowballs up and throw them. Players are also given Christmas-themed cosmetics to dress in – news masks, clothes and the like.
CS:GO has a similar approach – de:dust2 gets Christmas lights, snow is put in the games U.I Overlay, a MusicKit, performed by the Midnight Riders, has been made in the past, and a “Seasons Greetings” death overlay was released in the past, which you could equip so that enemies could see when you eliminate them.
Fortnite has launched a range of holiday-themed skins, notably the “Crackshot” skin, with a thick blanket of snow covering the map.
Even PUBG has jumped on board, with two cosmetic items being given to players who place in the top 10, 10 times, over the events duration. Players can also access 30-day versions through the games care-package system.
Events like this are a good reminder to players of a few things – that developers work hard to keep games well-maintained and full of interesting content, that the experiences are fun, and that Christmas is a time for celebrating and sharing.
Nobody should be getting too mad over games not supporting holiday events – especially around Christmas time. Developers have lives too, families and commitments, and given the hard press racked up this year to do with developer controversies, they deserve a breather.
I’ll be over here playing Overwatch and unlocking all of last years Winter Wonderland skins, which have become available again for the events duration.
Merry Christmas, and happy holidays!