There is no way to disguise the fact that Christmas is very definitely coming. With just over a month to go until December 25th, the festive lights have been put up in your town, retailers are starting to roll out their special seasonal advertisements and even a light sprinkling of Christmas tunes has been added to music systems at malls up and down the country.
While some people need no invitation to break the decorations out and start singing White Christmas at the top of their voices at this time of year, many of us prefer to be eased into the festive occasion in our own little way – and in our own time. Fortunately for gamers, there are a host of ways that you can start to slowly allow the Christmas spirit to drift over you.
This is because, frankly, developers have not often been shy in missing the potential commercial opportunity of embracing the holidays. From MMOs to sports games and online gambling, you are likely to see a growing number of Christmas promotions and content released which will not only get you feeling festive, but could also help boost your gaming experience in the long run. Here are just a few of the promotions we are expecting details to emerge on in the coming weeks.
Christmas on your console
If console gaming is your vice, there are a number of games that are likely to start providing online content with a distinctly Christmas-y theme. Fans of EA Sports’ renowned soccer series FIFA know this as well as anyone, with the game annually promoting its FUTmas campaign to support the Ultimate Team service.
Usually available from mid-December until the start of January, FUTmas includes a range of offers designed to help players build their dream squads full of the very best talent, with last year’s challenges focusing specifically on players who wear the shirt number linked to the date when the challenge went live – eg. shirt number 20 for December 20th. EA Sports also went to the trouble of releasing festive kits designed like Christmas jumpers to celebrate St Nick’s imminent arrival.
Another major multi-platform series which tends to celebrate Christmas is Final Fantasy. While many gamers are eagerly awaiting news on the much-anticipated remake of Final Fantasy VII, anyone familiar with other entries in the series will know the games mark this special time of year with the Starlight Celebration. This in-game festival which looks quite a lot like Christmas has seen the release of special festive armor for players in the past, as well as other items including furnishings such as decorative pillars.
Festive fun on browser and mobile
Other platforms where Christmas can prove to be inescapable at this time of year include mobile and browser games. In terms of the latter, Forge of Empires is among a number of titles which run Christmas promotions, with the Forge of Empires Winter Event offering players the chance to use stars to open a range of presents and receive special items. Last year, these included themed gifts such as a reindeer sleigh, a gingerbread house and even Santa’s workshop.
Another platform which eagerly embraces the holiday spirit are online casinos, with several providers pushing special promotions as well as Crimbo-themed titles. The line-up of games available at Dunder, for instance, gets some festive additions during the holiday period, with titles such as Merry Xmas, Xmas Joker and Taco Brothers Saving Christmas, with the latter from Elk Studios giving the holiday a very unique Mexican twist.
Many major mobile games also have the tendency go festive, with a particularly good example being Angry Birds Seasons. The game updates with a host of levels related to holidays throughout the year and the titles of its festive challenges – which include Ragnahog, Wreck The Halls and Winter Wonderham – are just one of the many reasons to check them out.
If PC gaming and MMOs are more your kind of thing, you will not be disappointed by some of the imaginative ways that Christmas has been worked into the content of the biggest games available in this area. While some just offer straight promotions including free gifts, others take an extra step for a more authentic experience.
In a similar manner to Final Fantasy referring to the in-game holiday by a different name, World of Warcraft goes festive by celebrating the Feast of the Winter Veil. In previous years a host of quests and toys have been released to mark the event, with gamers also being given the chance to claim free presents from Grandfather Winter – the in-game Santa Claus – which are left under a tree on December 25th.
While many gaming fans will be hoping that a copy of EA’s Star Wars Battlefront II will drop out of their stockings on Christmas morning, fans of Disney’s all-conquering space saga will already have had a chance to get that festive feeling by playing Star Wars: The Old Republic. The intergalactic MMO promotes Life Day across the Christmas period, which is an in-universe holiday celebrated by Wookies like Chewbacca that was first created by George Lucas for the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special broadcast on TV in 1978. In terms of the Old Republic, Life Day has in previous years allowed players to explore planets across the galaxy and also get their favourite characters involved in a good old-fashioned snowball fight.
A time for giving
As more and more game developers follow the model of software-as-service and keep updating their games throughout the year, there’s no doubt we will continue to see holiday-specific updates, new levels, celebrations and game skins. In addition to a great opportunity for new content, these ensure that at a time of the year when many of us have some time off, we are incentivised to spend it playing their creations. As well as being a whole heap of fun, the festive promotions available on a range of games are often a great opportunity for players to get their hands on free gifts and special items that could ultimately boost their success in the long run.
Keep your eyes peeled to see what offers are made available this year and, you never know, they might just have what it takes to get you in the festive spirit too.