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Holiday Events Good or Bad for Today’s Games?

"We look at two of 2016's biggest games as examples"

One of the hot trends in gaming lately has been holiday events. Certain games get decked out with special goodies that you can only get for a limited time. Others do double experience or increased chances of items. At the same time, we see player counts increase tenfold for these games during events, but go back down once they’re over. Holiday events have been proven to be successful, but they’re also a double-edged sword. Players get conditioned to just wait till the next event to play again. Games struggle to maintain the momentum gained from events.

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Let’s start with the biggest proponent of this case, Pokemon Go. Niantic launched the Valentine’s Day event for Pokemon Go last week which ends this Wednesday. Players will encounter increased spawns for pink Pokemon such as Jigglypuff, Clefairy and Chansey. There’s also chances for generation two babies Igglybuff, Cleffa and Smoochum to be hatched. Plus rarer Pokemon like Lickitung and Porygon spawn more frequently for this limited time. Personally I waited months since launch to finally catch a Porygon and I did during this event. Double candy for catches, egg hatches and transfers were also implemented as well. Lures last for six hours instead of the normal 30 minutes, which is insanely long.

While the Valentine’s Day event brought back folks to Pokemon Go hotspots to walk and catch, the game is arguably in the worst shape it’s been. Hardcore players have probably completed the Pokedex already by now. In other words, they caught all the possible Pokemon in the game in their region now including the Gen 2 babies. Other than trying to battling gyms, there’s really nothing else to do. The event also included changes to egg hatches where some 5k egg Pokemon are now 2k and 10k to 5k. If you’ve been following the game lately, that’s not the big change fans have been waiting for.

Pokemon Go players are still waiting for the rest of Gen 2 Pokemon to be available to catch. YouTube Content creators are struggling to come up with new content related to the game. The Valentine’s Day event brought coverage back up for a bit, but when’s the next time a whole area gets lured up? Likely not for a while. Niantic has been too quiet on the game’s future as players impatiently wait for Gen 2 or the next event after this one ends. Easter will probably be the next time Niantic announces another event for Pokemon Go. If they don’t release Gen 2 sooner than later, they’ll lose the momentum they got from Valentine’s Day.

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On the other end of the spectrum is Overwatch’s Chinese New Year event. This one ends later today as of it’s writing and has been another hit for Blizzard. More skins, sprays and emotes are available to get from limited time loot boxes. Zenyatta is my personal favorite out of this bunch even though I don’t have it. Just like the Olympic and Christmas events, I was back in every day leveling up to hopefully get what I want from loot boxes without paying up. While I have been only playing Overwatch during events, Blizzard does a better job maintaining momentum compared to Niantic. From new competitive seasons, balance changes, and new heroes to play as, Overwatch continues to have a stable player base in between holiday events. I’ll be definitely back for the next event Blizzard, but where’s Doomfist?

It’s definitely great we see holiday events in today’s games, but the dilemma for developers is how can they keep people playing when there is no event. That’s why they are a double edged sword. Gamers come back in just like whenever new DLC is out for a short time. However they’re more conditioned to just wait till the next event or DLC when more people are playing again. If this flawed approach is still successful in terms of raking in the cash, then the classic saying is still the case that if ain’t it broke, don’t fix it. Activision seems to think that way when they mentioned Overwatch during their earnings call last week. I hope to see this trend be handled better for the rest of 2017, but the way it’s going now I don’t expect drastic changes how they will be implemented for the future.

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