The Christmas effect, 2006

It’s a known fact that most FPS developers try to release games during the last few months of the year – in what’s called the holiday season. The rationality is that this date is specially popular for new games, as parents rush to buy games to their kids. This year (as always) many games failed to make their initially intended holiday release date – like Unreal Tournament 2007, Enemy Territory:Quake Wars and Half-life 2: Episode 2 (including Portal and Team Fortress 2), to name a few – and gamers’ parents had to choose between a few major titles that were released on this season. How did it turn out, then?

Numbers of players online for in the last 70 days, in thousands (lower 100,000)

Numbers of players online for in the last 70 days, in thousands (lower 20,000)

The first thing to notice is that Battlefield 2142 was the obvious winner this Christmas. While it still doesn’t have the popularity of games such as Half-life 1, Half-life 2 and even its older brother Battlefield 2, the holiday season has given it a second breath and the chance to revert what was a sharp drop in its number of online players. No other game has suffered a similar surge of popularity on this period; because Battlefield 2142 was the newest AAA title released, it’s safe to say it was the object of desire of many penniless gamers who were waiting for this Christmas for the opportunity to get a new game.

See bigger and more complete graphics covering this period on the games section.

Update: There’s also an interesting discussion about the performance of Battlefield 2142 (and Battlefield 2) on this topic on the forums. Despite being a forum thread that started as a common jab post, there are some good points raised there by a few forum members: it’s possible to see what’s the general community feeling towards Battlefield 2142, what are they expecting from Enemy Territory:Quake Wars and Crysis, and the community’s own predictions for the coming months.

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This website gathers data for various First Person Shooter games for PCs, and then build graphics with those numbers. This brings no answers, just questions. Where do we go from here?