Why Are There No Christmas Video Games?

As Christmas time approaches and families across the globe sit around a T.V and take sips of something warm (or cold), they may pop in one of many existing Christmas movies in order to watch and feel festive for the season. However, regarding our entertainment during this brief period of the year, today I’d like to pose a question: where are all the Christmas games? 

Annual holidays have found their way into almost every medium, with almost every industry trying to capitalise on the themes of these dates. Film, in particular, seems built for this. In fact, I’m sure we’re all well aware of those terrible movies like Valentines Day or Mother’s Day, products that are as much bad as they are completely shameless. Sure with gaming you’ll see the odd horror game coming out on Halloween, but these games aren’t built for their holiday like these movies are—considering the quality of them, perhaps that’s a good thing. Still, it’s an interesting topic to think about.

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However, it’s not like there aren’t any games set around the holidays. Arkham Origins is the first thing that comes to mind as a modern game narrative taking place on Christmas Eve, but you can’t really call that a ‘Christmas game’ the same way you’d call It’s A Wonderful Life is a Christmas movie.

The major reason why festive games aren’t really a thing, is because unlike other art forms, video games can’t just be shat out and released when the developers want them to be. Hell, studios and publishers have a hard enough time getting their games out, in general; the last thing they need is an even more definitive deadline. 

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But all of this doesn’t mean that the industry doesn’t have their own ways of celebrating these occasions. Steam sales are always a good thing to look forward to, often being themed around the holiday of the season, be it winter, summer, spring, or autumn. Furthermore, online games often have special gifts for players or updates that reflect the day it is. Grand Theft Auto Online brings snowfall to Los Santos every Christmas, and on New Years, World Of Warcraft players get to witness digital fireworks above in-game cities. 

While gaming may not be the perfect conduit to celebrate real life holidays, there are certainly ways to. Plus, video games and game hardware, are still the best presents one can receive under their Christmas tree.

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5 thoughts on “Why Are There No Christmas Video Games?

  1. Such an interesting idea! I wonder what would make a game specifically a “Christmas game”? Would it have to revolve around the religious aspect of the holiday (something devs would probably avoid)? A game about “saving Christmas” from some tragedy? I could see a game like this as some sort of simulator of a person working, say, in a minimum-wage job trying to provide a little extra for his/her family for the holidays, where it becomes a balance of purchasing what’s needed versus what is “wanted” for the holiday – bigger meal, a present for a child, etc etc. But this also hearkens to games like Cart Life and Papers, Please, so maybe adding a coat of Christmas paint wouldn’t be enough for it to sell 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh… nope. There ARE Christmas-themed games out there, but they’re generally one-note awful or not surprisingly, cheesy as all get out. I’ll leave you with two examples:

    annnnd:

    http://store.steampowered.com/app/265210

    That said, just about any MMO has Christmas or winter holiday content where stuff like snow, outfits and gifts for players are common and welcome to their fans. In general, I’m betting the main reason for no big deal AAA themed game would be seasonal standalone games don’t sell all that well outide of said season. DLC and limited time content is a more reasonable and reliable way to go.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Unlike movies, games need to last past a certain weekend or week to make their money back. So after the holiday is over, there’d probably just be an excess of crappy festive video games that won’t sell anymore.

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  3. Very interesting. Now you mention it, I can’t think of any Christmas games, and I imagine it would be hard to make one good. Maybe, like, a story focused game, something like layers of fear but at Christmas and without the fear. It could be called layers of presents. Your character could stuff their face with as much food as they want and unwrap other people’s presents if they’re mean or just their own if they’re normal. …it’s late and I’m not sure what I’m talking about.

    It’s not really a Christmas game, but Hotel Dusk: Room 215 always makes me feel christmassy because its set around that time. Same with the sequel. Nothing like a good December mystery!

    Liked by 1 person

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