Home > Games, My writing > ‘Tis the season (Article)

‘Tis the season (Article)

Last Halloween Double Fine released Costume Quest, the game of course had a theme to fit the holiday period it was released in and it added alot to the already charming little RPG. They followed that up with some DLC a couple of months later and although it wasn’t strictly Christmas themed it did have a Wintery tinge to it.

Costume Quest

While thinking over Costume Quest the question was raised in my mind; why don’t we see more holiday themed games?

The simple answer is that a game themed around one day or short period of time isn’t likely to have very long legs. Video games being a business means that many publishers wouldn’t be willing to put their money behind a game with a pretty limited shelf life. Of course what they won’t admit is gamings dirty little secret: the industry and gamers themselves are fickle.

Now you may argue with me on this point but I’ll try to back up this claim a bit to see if I can’t convince you. I’ll go back to Costume Quest first, itself a 4 or 5 hour game which I and many other players managed to beat in one sitting. Not only that but it’s very hard not to get all the achievements/trophies in your first playthrough. So it’s a fairly short game that has very little replay value, will anyone really go back to it once they’ve completed it? Probably not till next Halloween I’d wager. This is true of many games, even ones far longer and harder to finish than Costume Quest. Short of a select few favourites or multiplayer games there is often very little reason for someone to replay a game, especially with so many new ones coming out that also have to be played.

The current console generation is nearing what would normally be it’s end, as a result there are some who want to know what’s next. Despite the slew of top tier games still being released for current systems they want something new. As things stand right now there is no great need for a new set of consoles but the Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360 have been out for a few years now so we crave something fresh.

So again I’m left with the question, in an industry that is so inherently fickle why is a type of game that itself has a time limited appeal not more common? What could be done to illeviate some of the “danger” in releasing a game with such limited appeal? Again I return to Costume Quest for guidance, it was released on Xbox Live Arcade and PSN. Downloadable platforms.


While their production values are growing it is still significantly cheaper and easier to produce a downloadable title for XBLA, PSN or PC than it is to release a boxed retail game. With the games themselves being smaller and the weekly release schedules of XBLA, WiiWare and PSN there’s usually an even shorter lifespan than most for downloadable games. Sounds like the perfect place to release a holiday themed game wouldn’t you say? Clearly Double Fine thought so and they met with great success.

I think the market is secretly yearning for holiday themed games, who would say no to a well made platformer in which you play as one of Santa’s Elf and attempt to save Christmas? Or a puzzle game where you must help the Easter Bunny collect lots of lovely eggs? A new years game where you attempt to get as drunk as possible without dieing and still retaining some dignity? Ok, perhaps a bit too far with that one but it just goes to show how much potential there is for creative developers to try and make something great.

With this year just getting started we have plenty of holidays ahead of us, so get to it developers! Santa Claus’s drunken new years minigame collection isn’t going to make itself.

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