In the non-Internet economy, Halloween is the second most commercially successful holiday, only outperformed by Christmas.
Many Americans spend a lot of money to decorate their house or to find the best costume. This year, Halloween is not only the day of Microsoft Office 2010 Beta’s launch, but also makes a popular choice for social game developers for a great theme to attract new users. The holiday also serves as a reason to sell a multitude of themed virtual goods. Every huge development platform is following the trend - Zynga, Playfish, Booyah, etc.
There is a competition between every game developer to make the best and funniest app for Halloween. The following are a selection of social games that are unleashing themed features this month:
- YoVille - a social game from Zynga, where the player decorates a stylish home. They are releasing lots of virtual decorations and furniture for Halloween divided in two categories: haunted furniture and haunted castle, payable with in-game currency Yocash and Coins.
- Pet Society - in this game by Playfish, your avatar is a virtual pet who you can share with your friends by Facebook. For a few days, they have created Halloween trees from which free candy are falling.
- Café World - also from Zynga, this restaurant game will have a Jack O-Lantern who invites spooky guests to players’ cafés.
- Habbo - in this social network for teens, they sell a wide range of Halloween costumes.
Halloween is a new way to create demand for specific virtual goods, as it reminds American players of old habits. Why does it work? New updates of social games are not launching as they are developed but at strategic moments, especially during school holidays or cultural holidays. Because of the timing, active users have idle time to play and test new updates, as well as to become more addicted. Social game developers also hold gamers spellbound without explain what it is for.
It is too early to know how much money is generated by Halloween updates in sales of virtual goods. However, as is hinted by observing the current efforts in marketing campaigns around it on social games, it might be an important source of revenue.