Grumpy Gamer: Hallowe'en Blows

The Grumpy Gamer vents some pent-up holiday hate.

Hallowe'en, a once-glorious tradition intended to honor dead saints and fight ghosts, is a trash "holiday."

Don't get me wrong - zombies, ghosts, witches, Satan-worship and all that stuff is awesome. Especially the Satan-worship. Used to be, I loved dressing up as a zombie or whatever and being a terrifying freak for a day. Nowadays, I no longer bother hiding the terrifying freak that lives within me 24-7. When you're this ugly, masks are pretty much just redundant, and all I gotta do to be scary is to let a little more of the "real me" peak out from under the mask of civility.

I'm actually less concerned about trick-or-treating, though, than I am about holiday events in MMOs. Not just Hallowe'en, but Christmas, Easter, Independence Day, International Talk Like A Pirate Day, and any other seasonal event that precipitates special in-game commemorative content. Hallowe'en and Christmas are the two worst offenders, and since Hallowe'en is happening now-ish, let's deal with that one.

GW2 pumpkin guy

Most big games have Hallowe'en events. These events usually involve spooky, eerie goings-on, often involving ghosts, zombies, witches and the like. That's all well and good. But these events often come packaged with themed rewards - black-and-orange cosmetic items, for example, or goofy masks with Jack-o-lantern faces on them.

That's great for one day of the year. But there are 363 other days that are not Hallowe'en where Jack-o-lantern faces are basically played-out or meaningless. Like... the day after Hallowe'en. So if you take part in these usually fun temporary events, you get a thing that's only really valid approximately 0.003% of the time. Then you either toss it (because for some foolish damned reason, holiday event stuff never seems to have a vendor value and/or cannot be sold) or you stick it in a bank for a year.

A few games get it right. I'm actually taking part in the Star Wars: the Old Republic's version of Hallowe'en content - the Rakghoul Plague event. The Rakghoul thing has a zombie flavor, so it fits with the season, but the rewards are not the orange-and-black shit you see everywhere else, so you don't feel like an idiot using it in March. In fact, a lot of it is green, so it can do double-duty with St. Patrick's Day. 

Of course, they do have the jack-o-lantern meditation sphere, and that kind of annoys me.

I  used to love the LotRO Fall Festival stuff, too - the haunted hobbit hole is pretty fun the first couple of times you run it. But I've fallen out of love with the Harvestmath cosmetic rewards with the silly Hallowe'en themes. All except the bucket-head mask, which is pre-Mines of Moria and still looks hilarious and awesome. That and the skeleton-painted horse are the only items I covet during Harvestmath, and I already have them.

When I was reviewing RaiderZ 2 years ago, it was during their fall festival, and that one is pretty close to the other end of the spectrum from SWTOR's Hallowe'en content. Mobs dropped barter tokens, which you could trade for "sexy witch" cosmetic outfits or novelty "poppers" that mostly just take up inventory space. None of these items has any real appeal after October 31st, and I believe they had no vendor value so I couldn't even sell the damned things to redeem some of that wasted bandwidth. And apparently the "sexy witch" outfits have been ramped up since 2012.

Pumpkins. Juicy, delicious pumpkins.

Christmas is even worse... but that's another angry tirade I'll save for the Yule festival season. 

Hallowe'en content in MMOs - love it or hate it? Sound off in the comments!

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About The Author

Jeff Sproul, known by many as The Grumpy Gamer, has an undying love for The Lord of the Rings Online and Star Wars: The Old Republic. There must be something about MMOGs based on classic trilogies...

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