Are You Game for the Holidays?
In 1843, Sir Henry Cole commissioned the first Christmas cards as a way for people to use the new postal system to stay in touch with friends and family. That same December, Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” appeared in print and became an instant hit. Popular media was welcoming in the holiday, and it would only continue to grow.
Since the 1940s, the holiday movie has proven to be one of the most consistent revenue generators. We never seem to tire of those movies, either. Watching “A Christmas Story,” “Elf,” “White Christmas” or “The Santa Clause”—not to mention numerous adaptations of Dickens’ classic—has become a holiday tradition in countless families.
Specialty networks like the Hallmark Channel have seen an increased demand for holiday-themed content, resulting in increased revenues. Hallmark has gone from six original holiday movies in 2010 to twenty-one releases in 2015! The movies play from Thanksgiving to the beginning of the New Year. Their target demographic is women 24-54 years old, but men 18-49 are the fastest growing audience segment.
Compared to other forms of media, holiday-themed casual gaming is a relatively recent addition, but I believe there is opportunity and value in brands building top-quality, holiday games to engage consumers year after year.
Hallmark’s target demographic—women 24-54—plays holidays games for the same reason that it watches holiday movies. They’re looking for ways to reinforce the warmth and wonder of the holidays, and games can deliver that via familiar music, snowfall, magical scenes, toys, reindeer, and the big guy himself, Santa Claus. The play mechanic can include hidden object, time management, or even seasonal solitaire. It’s the emotional connection that matters the most.
This applies to other holidays as well, like Hanukkah, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, and Easter. And children enjoy the experience as much as their parents.
Office Depot’s “Elf Yourself” is probably the closest that gaming has come to a holiday tradition. It’s really more of an activity than a game but it succeeds because it’s easy, it’s silly, and it’s social; you can turn family and friends into elves and share them with others. Over a billion elves have been created since the game’s launch in 2006. Since it became an app, there have been 65 million downloads and 480 million users in 215 countries!
Offering a holiday-themed game/activity gives you a fresh way for your brand to engage with its consumers—whether you develop a new game or re-skin a current game with a holiday theme. It gives customers a reason to return and reconnect. And it may create an emotional bond that wasn’t previously there.
And who knows? Your game could be on the list of traditions, along with movies and books, and that roaring fire thing on Apple tvOS.