Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Maybe This Is What They Mean By "Winter Convergence"?

Games developers seem to love releasing expansions in December. Just this year we have Square Enix dropping Endwalker for Final Fantasy XIV (And sticking the landing by most accounts, despite some truly terrifying queues), Daybreak launching their traditional yearly packages for both the EverQuest games and Bioware giving us Legacy of the Sith for Star Wars: the Old Republic... oh, wait a minute...

When you stop and think about it, though, it seems an odd choice. For one thing, the run-up to Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year for lots of people. Everyone working in any kind of service, hospitality or retail business is going flat out and everyone in every other line of work is shopping, partying or leaving the country to try and avoid the whole affair. 

Where I live, even the schools don't break up until close to the end of the month. It makes you wonder who it is that can find time to play at this time of year, let alone sit in queues for hours on end just for the chance of playing.

And that's not the half of it. Every mmorpg with the least pretension to providing some kind of setting or backdrop for the cash shop rolls out one of the year's biggest holiday events at this time of year. Wintersday, Frostfell, Winter Convergence...

Excuse me? "Winter Convergence"? That's a name? What committee came up with that one? It makes those much-derided, real world attempts to come up with a name that won't offend anyone ("Winterval" limps immediately to mind.) sound positively Dickensian.

Having one of your biggest holidays arrive at the same time as your brand new expansion seems like poor programming but then some mmorpgs have so many festivals there's barely a space on the calendar to squeeze an expansion in without rubbing up against something. 

Even so, I was a little surprised to see in the EverQuest II launch pad news yesterday that Frostfell was already upon us. Or, I guess I should say, the Deepice Celebration of Frostfell

I'm not sure if this is some sort of rebranding excercise or whether the holiday always had a Sunday-go-to-meeting name and I just never noticed but apparently that's what it's called now. Other than that it seems largely unchanged. 

The main addition is a new Overseer quest. I'd give you chapter and verse but I'm still in the middle of it. So far I've received an arctic wurm house pet and a petamorph wand that turns any combat pet into an Eidolon of the Ancients

Don't ask me what one of those is. I'm looking at it and I still don't know. Next up is a new Overseer agent and after that I have no idea. I could look it up but Christmas Frostfell is the time for surprises so I'm not going to.

Other than that there are the expected additions to the main vendors and gift givers. Santa Glug has nine new presents, Gerbi Frostfoot has a dozen new items for sale and there are three new crafting books full of new recipes.

If you want to see every last one of them, EQ2 Traders has you covered. Just because Niami Denmother's on the other side of the curtain now doesn't mean she not still covering the waterfront. I want a gold star for that one. Mixed metaphor and double cliche! 

All the myriad quests of the last umpty-thump years are there, just as you'd expect. Frostfell is a time of tradition after all. We do things the same way every year and we like it.

Whether I'll find the time for much more than the Overseer quest and my daily presents from Santa Glug is a lot less certain. Looping back around to where I began, there's rather more appeal in the exciting new expansion than the admittedly gorgeous and atmospheric Wonderland Village and Frostfell Workshop.

Plenty of people seem to be enjoying the festivities all the same. I have my Inquisitor parked next to Glug as I write this and there's a continual stream of players flying in to grab their gifts. Someone's even planted a guild flag next to him for instant access.

Like most of the winter celebrations in every game, Frostfell's set to be with us long enough to wear out its welcome and then some. It started yesterday and it doesn't end until the fourth of January. That's more than a week longer than Wintersday and I'm betting I'll have had enough of both of them by December 27th.

But then, I could say the same of Christmas. Couldn't you?


  1. I also have never understood why MMOs launch expansions in the November/December window. Do people give MMO related products for gifts at Christmas? WoW and FF14 at least still have physical boxes one can wrap, but EQ and EQ2 certainly don't. They don't even have the physical cards for Daybreak Bucks like they did Station Cash.

    Maybe people in general spend more in December even if it's not gifts. Or maybe people are more willing to email a Christmas gift than I counted on.

    1. I thought of mentioning the give-as-a-gift factor but I was trying to keep things short. I have given expansions as gifts but not, as far as I can recall, for Christmas. They nearly always land at the start of December and that just doesn't work. Either you'd give the present at launch, in which case you're giving your Christmas present long before the day arrives, or you hold it back for the 25th and make the receiver wait two or three weeks while everyone else is playing.

      This is actually the first year December's really worked for me because now I'm only working two days a week it really doesn't matter when these things appear. In the past it's been really inconvenient. Actually, as far as EQ/EQII are concerned, that might be an explanation. I would genuinely not be surprised to learn the majority of the players of those titles are now either retired or very close to it.


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