Ian Bogost—of Persuasive Games, Water Cooler Games and Kotaku guest-editing fame—wonders in print via Gamasutra where the holiday-themed games are. Alongside a quick primer on winter, Christmas and Hannukah specific content, such as Christmas NiGHTS for the Sega Saturn and The Sims 2 Holiday Stuff, he explores the potential gain that publishers and developers could reap from throwaway titles that appeal to the holiday spirit. Sure, there are a few snow and ice levels thrown about, but no one's taking Christmas seriously.
It's a fantastic question, I think, as Hollywood has no fear trotting out the cinematic goods that have a very brief window of appropriateness. Right now, three holiday films—Fred Claus, This Christmas and The Perfect Holiday—are currently showing in the US top ten box office, but there's not much beyond timed events, downloadable clothing and quests that are holiday specific in games these days. Holiday era re-issues on titles that underperformed or could appeal to the pre-order shy might be something the industry should think about.
We're just about up to our eyeballs in Christmas cards from developers, but what about demos for already released games with a candy cane or two thrown in? One might think that with all that downloadable content out there, whether free or pay-to-play, it might make financial sense to toss in an elf or Hannukah Harry.
Actually, I won't be surprised to see 2K or Midway ship a Wii minigame collection next November. Any games that you can think of that would benefit from a holiday re-skin?
Persuasive Games: The Holly and the Ivy [Gamasutra]