Critical Hit – MMO Christmas Events

Last week I took a critical swing at the diabolical excuse for MMO development in The War Z but this week I decided to tackle a slightly more festive subject in the form of Christmas events in popular MMORPG games.

Christmas, and festive events as a whole, have been a part of the MMO gaming space since the conception of the genre itself. We see them pop up year after year on practically every type of MMO game, whether it be in a standard free-to-play title or a AAA project. From Ultima Online and Runescape to Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World, each year developers try to entice us to spend our holidays inside their game, but is it worth it?

I’ve been MMO gaming for many years now and personally I really don’t enjoy the festive events any more. There was once a time. back when the Nokia 8210 was the hottest thing on the playground, that I did enjoy Christmas events but as with MMO games themselves, quality seems to have dissipated since that time. The earliest memory I have of enjoying a seasonal event was with Runescape, back during the days when 3D was nothing but a distant pipe dream. I recall spending hours upon hours completing tedious tasks for items that seemed meaningless. That was until several years later when I was able to sell the item for a ridiculous amount of money.

Then came Guild Wars. I remember getting it for Christmas one year along with a number of the expansions and to say I was excited would have been an understatement. I tore through the cellophane and couldn’t wait to get into a game that I hoped would deliver storytelling on an epic scale. Instead I was met with over-sized candy canes and huge snowmen at every turn, totally destroying the immersive experience I was hoping to have.

That led me to thinking, was it the actual events themselves I enjoyed? The journey of discovery through the intricate imagination that the developers had deployed to create their own lore abiding festive events. Or was it purely down to the value and usefulness of the reward? Which has since been made redundant as most MMO games restrict selling or trading. Nowadays I honestly don’t know what I found appealing in regards to the festive events of yesteryear, but I do know that regardless of story or reward, I don’t enjoy them anymore.

What are your thoughts? Would an exciting MMORPG event entice you into a game that otherwise you wouldn’t play? Or do you think it’s just a dull way of increasing activity during the holiday periods? Leave a comment below with your thoughts.

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