Every year, “All I Want For Christmas Is You” heralds the arrival of the festive season. But for me, it begins with the first in-game Christmas event. Seasonal events are common in online games now, with everything from Fortnite to Overwatch doing something special to celebrate holidays like Christmas, Easter and Halloween.
Usually, they bring new skins, modes and maps to the game for a limited amount of time, and usually, the biggest additions are saved for the Christmas events. When they begin, you know you’re in for a few weeks of festive cheer in-game, and over the last few years, the weeks when Christmas events in games are live has become one of my favourite times of the year.
By nature, Christmas events in games are jolly, happy affairs. Playing them elicits the same joy as being a kid on Christmas holidays — instead of playing the same modes over and over, you get to have snowball fights, wear costumes based on your favourite Christmas movies and open presents in the form of new cosmetics. These seasonal game modes can be frantic, but the stakes are low — which is exactly what we want at the end of the year.
Christmas events are enough to draw me back to a game I haven’t played in months. Every year, I play Overwatch during the Winter Wonderland event to complete challenges and unlock festive skins for characters who I never play. I played the Halo Infinte multiplayer a fair amount when it first launched, but the only thing that has me coming back now is the advent calendar during the Winter Contingency event.
I love Christmas events in games for the same reason I love Netflix Christmas movies: they’re a chance for games to let loose and do everything that’s normally too silly to be on theme. Satisfactory, for instance, is a complicated game about managing supply chain lines to build factories and produce goods on an alien planet.
The annual Ficsmas event instead gives you materials to create a Christmas factory, producing presents, baubles, candy canes and snowmen. Massive presents wrapped in big red bows fall from the sky, and, as you improve your factory, you unlock more and more Christmas decorations to hang around your base. Admittedly, Satisfactory is full of jokes and cute content anyway, but the Christmas event really leans into it. I mean, spending my precious time on Earth playing a game about building factories is pretty silly, so why not commit to the bit and build a Christmas factory?
In some games, players even organise their own Christmas events to spread the festive cheer. This year, players in Final Fantasy XIV Online are spreading Christmas cheer by organising banquets, handing out presents, taking Santa photos and more — all in addition to the game’s official Starlight Celebration event.
Whether you celebrate in an official event or by yourself with a handful of committed players, Christmas events in games are a great way to send the year off. They provide a welcome escape as people drag themselves to the finish line, and match the relief of being on holiday. You might not be able to log off for the year just yet, but at least you can begin your celebrations in a game where snow’s falling, the reindeer costumes are free, and the presents are plentiful.