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Over recent years, the dissemination of game content has shifted from a single complete and finished product in a cartridge or on a disk, to a first release version that then has updates added at various later points. This is even becoming true of consoles, such as XBox Live and PSN games. Whilst there are debates about whether it means paying players are the new beta testers, rushing releases and suchlike, one thing that has caught on this year especially is the idea of seasonal updates.

In short: christmas has come to a video game near you.

MMOs

MMOs have had this sort of content for years, with plenty of titles adding in bits and pieces ranging from encounters to phat lootz to social costumes. Halloween and Christmas seem to be the most popular and this year is no exception with just about everything on the market going for it. Even EVE Online gets in on the act, though these days they have restricted it to gifting each account with some sort of present item such as a ship or an implant.

Trion Worlds Holiday Greeting

The MMOs I have dealings with all have Christmas festivities in some form or another. Anarchy Online has present-dropping leets in tower fields, big christmas trees in the main cities and a series of minigame encounters around a tongue-in-cheek storyline about aliens (lead by the commander Grin'Cha) infiltrating Santaleet's workshop to spread throughout the planet... Rift has had a three phase Fae Yule event going on for the last month or so and and the final phase is due to being any day now, revolving around the newly-freed Fae going overboard in celebrating the rites of Grandfather Frost with gifts, special footholds and costumes. Champions Online has costumes and perks associated with defeating armies of misfit toys, and the final part of an adventure pack series with a wintry theme.


Elsewhere

But it's not just MMOs. Game all across Steam have popped up free DLCs with christmas content ranging from decorations for the Tavern in Dungeon Defenders to a new map with its own achivement and music in Sanctum*. Killing Floor has christmas-skinned zombies, to follow up their Halloween themed DLC. Bunch of Heroes also has a holiday pack... You get the idea.

It's even becoming present in mobile gaming: Alchemy Classic just updated with a christmas addition set, chaging the backgrounds to be festive and adding some 50 new combinations for christmas and yule related items, like Coniferous trees.


But...

Of course with a fixed theme such as Christmas/Yule, there's only so much you can do based on the same hashed-out old tropes (trees, presents, candy canes, snow etc) and it is all a bit jarring with the setting of each game unless it's based in the real world and the here and now. Ultimately it's why Eve Online moved it's christmas celebrations out of game, so to speak (although it was fun pelting the devs with snowballs in my destroyer). It's all just some silly fun, though, and it can make a change in the scenery from the rest of the year.


*For the record, Sanctum devs can't sing. It is funny though.

Date: 2011-12-22 07:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jon-a-five.livejournal.com
Xbox Live always does a 12 Days of Xmas sale which has some real bargains.

I whined, sorry.

Date: 2012-01-15 04:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zackery-faelan.livejournal.com
I know MMO's are all about playing with other people and stuff but I wish the MMO's would make it so you could play by yourself if you wanted to because sometimes people just REALLY SUCK and they make games like RIFT, World of Warcraft and Star Wars The Old Republic just crummy to play when you can't advance by yourself.. Yes, I know, you don't own the rights to these games and probably didn't make them or anything but still.. I just HAD to tell you. Sorry.

Re: I whined, sorry.

Date: 2012-01-16 03:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] achtungexplosiv.livejournal.com
MMOs have become much more solo-friendly over time, and this is most apparent in the newer releases.

In the case of RIFT, the vast majority of game progression can be done solo easily. There's a few quests which would require you to leave them until you're higher level if you want to solo them but the point there is that they can still be done solo int he end. Naturally you won't be able to solo dungeons, but those aren't needed to advance. The auto-grouping framework for rifts, events and invasions suits casual teaming that requires no real interaction beyond a better chance at kill credit and group buffs/heals.

I've done much of my questing on my various alts solo in RIFT, so I speak from experience.

Ultimately, though, if having other people around is proving to be an overall negative for you then I'd recommend playing single player games like Skyrim. All of the vast world full of stuff to do and character progression, none of the other players.

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May 2012

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