Shack Chat: Are limited-time events good or bad for players?

This time around the Shack Staff weighs in on limited-time events, what they think about them, and whether they are good or bad for the players.


It's that time again, time for the Shack Staff to all gather around and share our opinions on another topic. We know that you're dying to hear what we think, so let's dive right into this week's question without wasting any time. 

Question: Are limited-time events good or bad for the players?

Get off my lawn! - Asif Khan, Owner of a Hurrycane

Back in my day, we had games that shipped with all their modes and cosmetics. There were not these new-fangled DLCs, Twitch loot drops, and limited-time events. We just had a game that we played, and when we were done, we were done. 

These games today have new-fangled item stores and virtual currencies meant to keep you hooked, and it seems like LTEs are just an extension of that. They are good for players in the sense that the developers are still putting some effort into adding things to the game, but it is bad in the sense that a game can ship without a whole lot there. That is fine if it is free-to-play, I guess, but it grinds my gears when I pay for an FPS game and it doesn’t ship with something like a deathmatch mode. 

The other thing that sucks about LTEs is when there is actually a fun mode like Duos in Apex or whatever. Why not just leave the mode in the game once you ship it? That aspect of limited-time events is dumb in my opinion.

All in all, it helps game devs make more money by keeping their games relevant. I guess that is a good thing, but there are definitely aspects of LTES that are bad for the players. Hopefully studios will figure out the right way to balance these issues as I don’t think this gaming trend will be going away any time soon.

Shake my meta, baby! - Ozzie Mejia, Guy who is never here

I'm generally a fan of limited-time events, mostly the holiday stuff. I mean, nothing shook up the Team Fortress 2 days more than the annual Scream Fortress events. But as gaming moves forward, I'm finding limited-time events as a cool way to get back into a game I might not have played before. I'm also finding it to be a great way to shake things up.

So, I don't know if anyone knows this about me, but I play Hearthstone. I know, right? Nobody would have ever guessed this. So, Blizzard's been taking its limited-time events and using them to make the game's meta a little bit more interesting. For example, not too long ago, they took 23 cards out of the Wild batch that had rotated out of normal, everyday play and tossed them into Standard, challenging players to make their best decks with these random cards. Or if you want to look at another Blizzard game, look at how Overwatch takes an annual event and uses it to further the game's story while making room for four-player co-op play.

Limited-time events open the door for creativity and offer ways to reward a loyal player base for sticking around for so long. Or sometimes, they're just a nice way to get people to swing by for a quick visit.

Sure, but maybe let me have the stuff later too? - Blake Morse, Busy Bee

I think LTE’s can be fun, but at the same time I think there should be ways to earn the special items after the fact because not everyone has the time to play every friggin’ game under the sun during a break or what have you. For example, I love playing and participating in Rocket League events and I was really excited for last Summer’s 80’s retro offerings. But the summertime is filled with convention after convention and I’m hardly home and when I am I have a giant pile of work waiting for me. I tried my hardest to make time to play, but barely got anything out of it and now all those cool customization items seem to be gone forever and it bums me out. I feel like I’ve been punished for having real-life adult priorities. 

And it wasn’t even the only in-game event happening that I wanted to participate in as Warframe had a new season of Nightwave and was offering up some killer armor for folks who made the grind through the content and got to the max level. It was basically like having to pick which of my kids I loved the most. So now I’ve got the armor for my Operator, but I don’t have an Ultimate Warrior mask for my custom cars in Rocket League. I just wish Rocket League and other games would bring back the items from their events in some way to give folks like me another shot at getting our hands on them. 

Good when done right - Bill Lavoy, Agent 47

No, they are not bad, as long as they are done properly. For that to be the case I think we need to look at Hitman (2016) and Hitman 2, which uses timed events for their elusive targets. These targets appear for only about a week or so, and then are gone. You get one shot to take them down. Fail and you’re out of luck. Succeed, and you might unlock a new suit for Agent 47. The rewards are cosmetic. That’s the kind of limited-time event I can get behind. The event follows a narrative that works with the spirit of the game, the time to participate is adequate, and the rewards are cosmetic.

What I’m not into are limited-time events designed to lure the player out of hiding because they will miss out on useful items in the game. There are lots of examples, and I’m not too broken up about them, but I think it’s weak sauce. If players aren’t spending time in your game, do something cool to bring them back, not attempt to exploit FOMO (fear of missing out). Hitman (2016) and Hitman 2 got this right.

LTEs fill me with apathy - Chris Jarrard, Buttmaster

I don’t have any real objection to the concept of limited-time events. I have participated in some that were fun and in others that were a waste of time. The quality of my life will not be altered if they were removed from existence, but I won’t slight anyone who feels otherwise.

If pressed for a deeper commitment to a hot take, I would say that I dislike the idea of offering a limited-time event for the sake of offering a limited-time event. Should the need for such an event arise in unison with some associated holiday or meaningful tie-in, that’s fine. I get the feeling that most limited-time events are run to sell more DLC or drive up numbers to show off on financial calls. 

Good for the game, mixed for the player - Sam Chandler, Guides Editor

There’s one thing I love doing in Sea of Thieves: jumping in and unlocking the limited-time commendations. Once they’re unlocked, I can focus my efforts on checking off other tasks.

This is the double-edged sword of limited-time events. They bring players into a game, focus them all on a single objective, and provide a guaranteed experience. Too often games can have their playerbase bleed out into other areas, making one aspect or another feel empty. Limited-time events rally the troops and ensures everyone is on the same page, at least for a while.

On the flipside of things, there are people that really suffer from FOMO - the fear of missing out. Limited-time events feel like too much pressure, demanding that they play a game at every available opportunity in order to stay relevant. It can be tiring.

I see the value in limited-time events from the perspective of populating servers and ensuring players have new experiences, but it’s also a challenge for players who might not have the time. And look, if you don’t have the time, that’s fine too. FOMO is a cruel mistress - it’s okay to say no to her.

Ultimately bad - Donovan Erskine, Fortnite expert

Limited-time events are an easy way to inject some life and excitement into a game, well after its initial release. Having new content added that ties in with real world releases and holidays are a fun way for developers to keep their audience engaged.

That being said, these events can also put players under some unwanted pressure. Take Fortnite for example, a game I love and have sunk countless hours into. Fortnite does events better than anybody in the business yet the same issues are still present. These events can pressure players to play a game even when they don’t really feel like it, simply because of “never to be seen again” cosmetics and items. Just a few months ago I forced myself to play match after match of Fortnite, because I wanted to make sure I unlocked all of the free Star Wars items before the Episode IX collaboration ended. 

They’re bad, and I don’t have time for them - Brittany Vincent, Senior Editor

I think they’re ultimately bad for players. Just speaking personally, I don't like when anything is going on for a limited-time, because I don't have unlimited-time. There are several parts of games I look forward to playing, like Overwatch's Lucioball, that only come around every once in a while, and then it's gone in the blink of an eye. I'm 30 years old and I work nearly every day of the week, pretty much all day, on a variety of different projects. When I'm not doing that I'm often playing games I was assigned to play, not the ones I always want to play. 

It's unfair to think I should have to fit my schedule around what's currently in a game for a couple of weeks (or even days). I get that my schedule isn't representative of everyone in the world, but I'm of the mindset that losing out on any type of content in a game because you couldn't physically be around isn't optimal. But that's just me. I'm sure there are others in the world with far less time than me to catch their favorite modes and content in-game, which limited-time events probably infuriate even more. There’s too much to play as it is out there. Forcing me to play on specific days or times is a surefire way to get me to load up something else. 

I don’t hate them, but I do - Josh Hawkins, Guy who does nothing

Personally, I like the idea of limited-time events. Pushing people to complete things within a certain time period can often foster some great community moments. But, I also think that we’ve seen some rough ways of going about pulling them off.

If you want to see a game that handles limited-time events well, then I think Monster Hunter World is a great example. Not only do people often get multiple attempts to earn those rewards with the events rotating out every few months, but the rewards are often actually worth the trouble. Other games, however, offer minimal rewards and never really give players that much of a chance.

We live in a world where people often have to work multiple jobs to pay all their bills. That makes it exceptionally difficult for many to spend 12+ hours playing a game to unlock limited-time event content. Because of this, I think it’s important to make sure you’re offering ample rewards and ample time for your limited-time events.

So, overall limited-time events aren’t really a bad thing. Not as far as I’m concerned. However, most games do a terrible job pulling them off, and that’s a problem.

Just give me the mode please - TJ Denzer, Legends of Runeterra fanatic

Hey. Fortnite. Apex Legends. What the heck do you think you’re doing? That mode you put in? The limited-time duos? The solos? Why’d you take that right back out a week later? You think I just wanted to play these things for a week? You think I wouldn’t want to just go right back to them at my leisure? What’s wrong with you?
Listen. I understand we can’t have Thanos in Fortnite forever. Eventually The Avengers: Infinity War/End Game goes out of vogue, but why the heck are you taking basic elements like duos in Apex Legends and swords in Fortnite, dangling them in front of my face, and them casting them by the wayside as soon as a predetermined time is up? You know we want to keep playing that stuff. We’ve said it over and over again.

I may be salty because Valentine’s Day weekend in Apex Legends just ended and they took duos away from me yet again, but when it comes to limited-time events in general? I find the promotional crossovers to be appropriately limited, but when you start playing around with basic modes I like and then taking them away from me and the other players... Well, then you’re just being a jerk.

Not so good, but not so bad - Greg Burke, Video editor extraordinaire

From a developer standpoint it’s great. They breathe new life into a game and encourage people to play it if they took a break for a while. It hypes the game up tremendously. However, there is a downside. If you are traveling, working, or just don’t have time to play you end up missing out on time sensitive content. A good example is World of Warcraft. I play that game on an off, and in one of my off times, I ended up missing out on a time gated quest that rewarded me with a new Druid form. I can never get that form again, and that really sucks, but the people who were able to do it probably feel unique and special, as they should. Like most of the entries here, it’s a good thing, but also, it’s not. 

Eh - Steve Tyminski, The new guy

Can one consider limited-time Events a good thing or a bad thing? My opinion is that in the long run they’re a negative but short-term they do what they’re supposed to do, get more word-of-mouth spoken about the franchise and more players playing. In the long run however, it creates more headaches than anything for the players. Pokémon Masters has all kinds of limited events and I check it to make sure I don’t miss anything. That being said, there have been plenty of unlockables and time sensitive material that I wasn’t able to get since you had a limited-time to gather enough supplies and the amounts were really high to start. Getting items has been made easier since launch but it’s still a hassle to do.

As I said, it gets players to open the game practically every day to make sure they aren’t missing out on a new item/character or unlockable. The “missing out on” factor also plays a role in these as the companies know if they put that “limited-time offer” stamp on something, it will make people nervous about not getting that thing. It works in all kinds of business and gaming is no different.

I know when I miss something on Super Smash Bros Ultimate after not playing for a few weeks; I get annoyed with these events. Smash really only does this with Spirits so they can rotate new ones in, which is fine, but again it makes you play everyday. I have never been a fan of these time sensitive events but everything is a business and the more eyes you have on something, the more chances you create that those people will spend their money. That’s all that matters, how do you get people to spend their money on your product? Putting an event in to make people more prone to spending/playing is the best way. This is more of a mobile game strategy and why limited-time events are even a thing in the first place.

There you have it. What do you think? Do you agree with our opinions on the matter? Do you think that limited-time events are good or bad for the player? Let us know in the Chatty comments below!

Shack Staff stories are a collective effort with multiple staff members contributing. Many of our lists often involve entires from several editors, and our weekly Shack Chat is something we all contribute to as a group. 

From The Chatty
  • reply
    February 21, 2020 2:45 PM

    Shack Staff posted a new article, Shack Chat: Are limited-time events good or bad for players?

    • reply
      July 15, 2021 8:01 PM

      I own a YouTube channel where I try to fully complete every game, trying to show off everything that's in the game by obtaining every item, etc. Usually, this is relatively easy, or if not, at least still possible, but with limited-time events, a lot of things disappear and are not possible to get anymore. I would be fine with them if, eventually, they permanently reappeared later, for example in some sort of a pawn shop or something, but most times, they're just gone forever.

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