As the calendar turns to 2024, game developers and publishers are gearing up for another year of exciting opportunities to engage with their audiences. From major sporting events to cultural celebrations, the year is filled with holidays and events that offer a perfect platform for game developers to connect with gamers.
Seasonal events can play a key role in a successful live ops strategy, according to GameRefinery. While offering original content and offers to your players is a start, seasonal brand & IP collaborations can augment these offers further to engage and reward key player segments with unique and timely content. And the effect on engagement and monetization is clear, according to NewZoo. The most successful live service games are differentiating themselves by tapping into existing characters, stories and brands their fans love.
If you haven't thought about your 2024 live ops calendar with IP collaborations in mind, don't worry. In this article, we'll take a closer look at some key holidays and events in 2024, why they're a great marketing opportunity for game developers and provide examples of successful collaborations from the gaming world.
Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday that commemorates the Battle of Puebla. While it has historical significance, it is also widely celebrated in the United States and other countries as a day to enjoy Mexican culture, food, and music. Game developers can tap into the festive spirit by offering themed in-game events, skins, or game modes that align with the celebration.
Perhap surprisingly, there aren't many examples of games celebrating Cinco de Mayo with seasonal events, although some, like GTA V Online, have marked the day with special in-game offers.
The NBA Finals is the pinnacle of professional basketball in the United States. The 2023 Finals were watched by an average of 12 million viewers and the league has over 150 million followers on social media. Game developers can target basketball fans by introducing NBA-themed content or events in their games during this time. Collaborations with the NBA or featuring star players can generate excitement among gamers who are also sports enthusiasts.
NBA 2K series regularly releases new content tied to the NBA Finals, including special challenges and MyTeam cards. Fortnite collaborated with the NBA to introduce NBA-themed cosmetics and outfits during the NBA Finals in 2021. Players could purchase and customize their characters with NBA team jerseys and other basketball-related items.
Euro 2024 is a major European football tournament that attracts a massive global audience. The 2020 tournament attracted 1.9 billion viewers. Game developers with a large European player base can capitalize on this event by launching Euro-themed content, challenges, or tournaments. Engaging with the excitement of the tournament can help retain and attract football-loving gamers.
Fortnite's collaboration with Harry Kane and Marco Reus was a clever way of capitalizing on the excitement of Euro 2020, without integrating every team and player.
The Paris Olympics is a global sporting event that brings together athletes from around the world. The 2020 version attracted over 2 billion biewers and it is the fifth-most watched sporting event globally. Developers can create Olympic-themed games and events to coincide with the real-world competition. This provides an opportunity to celebrate the spirit of sportsmanship and athleticism in gaming.
Around 73% of Americans celebrate Halloween, making it one of the most popular holidays on the calendar. It's also one of the biggest for seasonal events in gaming. Game developers can embrace this holiday by launching Halloween-themed events, skins, and game modes that immerse players in a festive atmosphere. It's an excellent time for horror games to shine and for other genres to experiment with unique content.
Rocket League hosts an annual Haunted Hallows event during Halloween. This event introduces limited-time modes, themed cosmetics, and in-game items. Collaborations have included items from popular IPs like Stranger Things and Ghostbusters.
In 2023, State of Survival collaborated with Resident Evil for Halloween, making renowned heroes and antagonists available, including the iconic Chris Redfield and the formidable Lady Dimitrescu.
Thanksgiving and Black Friday mark the start of the holiday shopping season in the United States. Game developers can participate by offering discounts, bundles, or exclusive in-game items during Black Friday sales. This not only drives revenue but also rewards loyal players.
While not a brand or IP collaboration, World of Warcraft hosts the Pilgrim's Bounty event around Thanksgiving. Players can engage in holiday-themed quests, earn achievements, and partake in a feast within the game. The event captures the spirit of Thanksgiving in the World of Warcraft universe.
Christmas is a time of joy and gift-giving. It's also the unofficial holiday for gaming, as people unwrap new games and spend more time online at once than any other time of the year. Christmas is usually a time for changes or bug fixes that teams were too busy to make throughout the year.
With in-game collaborations requiring roughly 4-6 months lead time, you've missed the boat for these early-year events. But you've got plenty of time to prepare for their 2025 editions.
The Super Bowl is one of the most-watched sporting events globally, attracting 113 million viewers. It ranks second in sporting events occurring annually, only behind the Champions League final. For game developers, the Super Bowl presents a tremendous marketing opportunity, as it captures a massive audience of sports enthusiasts and casual viewers alike. Creative collaborations with NFL-themed games, character skins or special in-game events can generate significant buzz and engagement.
In 2022, Stumble Guys partnered with the NFL for their Super Bowl Scramble level. Madden also regularly releases special Super Bowl-themed content and challenges, allowing players to experience the excitement of the game.
Layer works with NFL stars like Tom Brady, Joe Burrow, Christian McCaffrey and Justin Jefferson.
Valentine's Day is the worldwide day of love and affection between intimate partners. It's a great opportunity for game developers to create limited-time in-game events or special items that cater to themes of romance, love and caring. Gamers often enjoy the chance to share their gaming experiences with loved ones, making this holiday a perfect occasion for multiplayer games or co-op missions.
In 2020, Fortnite collaborated with DC Comics' Batman franchise for a Valentine's Day event called Love and War. This event introduced limited-time challenges and cosmetics inspired by Batman, Catwoman, and Harley Quinn.
International Women's Day is a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. It's an ideal time for game developers to showcase strong female characters, promote diversity and inclusion in gaming, and acknowledge the contributions of women in the industry. Collaboration with women-led gaming initiatives or charities can also resonate positively with players.
Overwatch has regularly celebrated its diverse roster of female heroes through various in-game events, such as the Overwatch Anniversary and seasonal events like Lunar New Year or Halloween. While these events aren't exclusively tied to International Women's Day, they provide opportunities for players to enjoy and appreciate the game's female characters.
National Anime Day is a day dedicated to celebrating the world of anime and its vibrant fan community. If you publish games in the RPG, MOBA, TCG, FPS or Battle Royale genre, there's a strong chance you have many anime fans in your midst.
National Anime Day offers a unique opportunity to engage with anime enthusiasts through crossover events, character skins, or collaborations with popular anime series.
While not tied directly to National Anime Day, Genshin Impact has collaborated with popular anime series like Neon Genesis Evangelion and Demon Slayer to introduce in-game characters and items, attracting fans of both the game and the anime.
In July 2020, Pokémon GO collaborated with the popular anime and manga series One Piece for a special event. This crossover event featured Straw Hat Pikachu and various One Piece-themed outfits for trainers, as well as exclusive in-game research tasks. While not specifically tied to National Anime Day, it celebrated anime culture.
As you prepare your live ops strategy for 2024, Layer's Collab Calendar provides a valuable resource for identifying key holidays and events that offer excellent marketing opportunities.
Our catalog of over 400 brands, IP and talent can help you find the perfect collaboration to improve revenue and engagement. Here's a list of brands & IP that could support these popular events & holidays.
If you're interested in learning how Layer can support your live ops strategy in 2024, sign up below for free.