Are Seasonal Events Really Fun?
Monday morning I was working in my home office trying to figure out what my column was going to be about this week when I logged into Neverwinter to complete my daily prayer. You may think I am crazy but I will earn that angel companion that costs 360 Ardent Coins if it is the last thing that I do. After I prayed and reset my leadership abilities I logged into Final Fantasy XIV to complete a few quests before I had to head to my day job. Opening the Realm Reborn launcher I saw the splash screen for the Moonfire Faire and thought my problems were solved.
That is until I logged in and actually took part in the Moonfire Faire. My expectations for the event greatly outweighed the reality of what was to occur. While I had hoped that we would end up with a few heralds in each city that would lead our adventurers on a series of quests in the wider world what we ended up with was a vendor that was selling swimwear and a herald who told us that our help was needed off the coast of Limsa Lominsa in Costa Del Sol. It turned out that the FATE you needed to participate in to acquire the wet bomb ash, the event currency, was already in the game and I had plenty in my pack to buy all the unique items. If you are into bondage, these rewards are for you.
Before I get bashed as a prude American let me tell you that this screenshot is very tame and you can find some pictures of Miqo’te in their seasonal wear that would make Ron Jeremy blush. But I digress. While I think that Square Enix has done a masterful job remaking this game so far, they have completely missed the mark on this seasonal event, but the real question is why? No it is not just the underwear. Well, maybe it is a little bit about the underwear.
Seasonal events in MMOs are one of those little bonuses that most players have come to expect from developers. Most of these events have little to no impact on real game events but add in fun rewarding challenges for the players. A great example of a seasonal event done well is the Feast of Winter Veil by Blizzard for World of Warcraft. While not everyone celebrates Christmas, everyone who plays WoW is looking forward to what is going to be under the tree come December in Azeroth. The quest chain to rescue the stolen reindeer from the Abominable Greench is one of the more memorable seasonable events I have take part in and the Clockwork Rocket Bot is about as a good a holiday gift as an MMO player can receive from a developer.
Neverwinter just added in their first seasonal event last month. While FFXIV might be superior to Neverwinter in a number of ways, Cryptic did a much better job with their Midsummer Festival than SE did with the Moonfire Faire. The Midsummer Festival takes place in a new area that has been added into Neverwinter just for this event. Within the zone you can take place in a number of events from gathering vegetables, fighting back ogres, to wrangling chickens. All of which reward you with different currencies that will allow you to purchase mounts, companions, or festive garb and earn achievements.
Rift is another example of an MMO that does seasonal events right. While some of them may have started to become a little formulaic, do daily quest, earn currency, open up more daily quests, earn more currency, buy nice items, they are fun. From finding dragon balloons across Telara to riding sleds in Iron Pine Peaks these are clever and fun diversions from the everyday routine. Trion also offered mounts, companions, achievements, and typically a bag that would hold more than the largest crafted bag could and was worth working for. Even if players did not care for “fluff” items these bags ensured that there would be something for everyone.
Square Enix did do a fantastic job of decorating the towns for the Moonfire Faire to provide a festive mood. The recreation of the bombs as paper balloons is eye catching and would have made a great non-combat pet. The FATE, Return of the King, is also a little different than most FATEs but after you do it once it is just killing 100 bombs. While I give SE grief for the artwork on the seasonal gear, at least they made it just as revealing for both sexes. The lesson I hope that SE takes from this event is that it is just not engaging. There is nothing that makes me want to go back and take part in this FATE. I, as well as most of the people in my free company, had accidentally collected enough of the currency before even knowing what it was going to be used for. The prices are so low for the rewards that you can purchase almost everything after doing the FATE 3 times. The heralds also give you a lot of background information on why you need to be concerned about this possible Bombard invasion, but this could have been conveyed better by giving the player a quest, not a huge monologue.
I hope in future events that SE does just as good of a job decorating the parts of town they did with the Moonfire Faire. That is one thing they definitely got right. They do need to offer a litte more variety with the activities players can take part in and not just add in one new FATE. They need to mix the rewards up a bit. Cosmetic gear is always nice but how about some decorations for our housing that should be in the game relatively soon? If you diversify the rewards you will increase the amount of players that care about the rewards. SE also did a great job of showing us the story in FFXIV from 1 to 50, they need to do more of that with these events, show us the story, don’t just tell it to us. This will create a more engaged player and a more successful event. But what about you dear reader? Was the Moonfire Faire a big bang for you or a wet thud? What do you think that SE could do to get you more engaged with events like this? Let us know in the comments below.
Robert Lashley / Robert Lashley is a Staff Writer and Online host for MMORPG.com and RTSGuru.com. Rob's bald and when he isn't blinding people from the glare on his head talking in front of a camera you can find him spending his free time in Eorzea pretending he is a Paladin in the Midgardsorm realm or you can chase him down on twitter @Grakulen
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