12 Days of Christmas community event analysis

By Luke Albigés,
Our latest community event came to a close at the end of December, so now for some follow-up fun — let's take a deep dive into all kinds of facts and figures from 2021's 12 Days of Christmas challenge!

Participants

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12 Days tends to be one of our more popular community challenges, and 2021's event proved no exception. We had a total of 6,438 entrants this time around, and given that day one's task — simply unlocking one achievement from a game optimised for Xbox Series X|S — was remarkably generous (in the spirit of the season), it should come as little surprise that an impressive 96.8% of participants made it past this first hurdle. Just over a third of participants would make it though all 12 challenges, with 35.9% completing the lot to earn the event badge. Some of the tasks were arguably a little harder than in previous years, so let us know if you have any feedback on how you found the event — we're always looking to make them as much fun as they can be for everyone!

Achievements

Halo Infinite

Based on the timing of the event, the fact that three specific games dominated the top ten achievements used throughout shouldn't come as too much of a shock. Achievements from Halo Infinite, Forza Horizon 5, and easy Game Pass completion Townscaper made up the entire top ten amassing more than 350 event-wide pops a piece, with Halo just edging out a win with a 4/3/3 lead. With 568 unlocks across the event, the Infinity Down achievement for grabbing your first Spartan Log in Halo Infinite was the most commonly used unlock, eligible for exactly half of the 12 challenges and available in the first few minutes of the game's campaign. You wouldn't normally expect to see an achievement for completing a game in the most-used event unlocks, but Bare Your Fangs for beating Infinite on Normal was actually the fifth most common event unlock overall, due to the anticipated FPS' December release date coinciding nicely with some of these challenges. All three Townscaper achievements sit between these two Halo ones to round out the top five — a timely November 30th arrival on Game Pass meant the construction toy you can finish in minutes was always going to be a hot pick in these challenges.

Next, let's break things down further still to look at the top achievements used in each of the 12 individual challenges. It's mostly familiar faces, but there are a few fresh ones in there as well...

ChallengeTop achievementUnlocks
Optimized For The SeriesNow That's Inspiring (Townscaper)241
Two Grinding GearsBare Your Fangs (Halo Infinite)401
Three Nice PopsMake a Little More Noise (Halo Infinite)150
Four High Rez GamesNow That's Inspiring (Townscaper)186
Five Hidden ThingsHidden Experience (Halo Infinite)221
Six Can't Stop Co-OpSuccessful Escape (Rubber Bandits)163
Seven Gamers CountingFirst Contact (Halo Infinite)144
Eight Cheevo SpellingYou're Up, Rook (Halo Infinite)239
Nine Multi-GenresFeels Like Home (Minecraft)39
Ten 'The's A-StartingThe Gardener (Townscaper)216
Eleven Looters LootingSummon Caleigh (The Bard's Tale ARPG)190
Twelve Hoppers HoppingNow That's Inspiring (still Townscaper)114
Once again, Halo Infinite runs the show here, though it did get sniped by that one Townscaper achievement in all three challenges for which Now That's Inspiring was eligible. We also see a couple of rogue one-offs popping up here, all of which are (unsurprisingly) from Game Pass titles — Minecraft with its many stacks, remastered ARPG The Bard's Tale, and Rubber Bandits stole one challenge each, with the first two actually making the top ten most-used games for the entire event. Some of those lower numbers are easily explained by those specific categories being significantly broader than others, with multi-genre in particular an ocean-deep pool of possibilities when compared to, say, games featuring achievements that begin with specific letters or words.

A grand total of 237,742 achievements were unlocked over the course of the event, which works out to be an average of 37 achievements per participant... only enough for our Theoretical Average Gamer to make it two-thirds of the way through the event. That job lot of nearly a quarter of a million achievements was worth a whopping 6,818,572 Gamerscore which, at the time of unlocking, worked out to a colossal TA Score total of 15,264,006.9. Not a bad little ratio, that, although we'd imagine it saw a fairly major boost from Halo Infinite — with the multiplayer component arriving in beta form back in November, the game already had a massive player base by the time the campaign arrived, driving TA scores and ratios for many of the campaign achievements way up in the days after Infinite's full launch on December 8th.

Games

Halo: The Master Chief Collection ~ SuperHeroArt

We touched on it a little earlier, but let's look a little closer at the most popular games of the event by the total number of valid achievements unlocked in each. The two mentioned previously — The Bard's Tale ARPG and Minecraft — didn't break the top three most-used games, with the former only (somehow) managing 6th place while Minecraft bagged both the fourth and fifth positions above it thanks to its console and PC stacks. The most popular game overall should come as little surprise to anyone who has checked out one of these event recap articles before, as it's a mainstay for event usage. Yes, with its 700-strong achievement list covering bases for almost all of the 12 challenges (all bar one, in fact, on account of not being an RPG to qualify for Challenge 11), Halo: The Master Chief Collection just managed to beat out Infinite to once again be the most-used title in a TA community challenge. Predictably, Game Pass titles dominate the list, with only one non-Game Pass release making the top ten in the form of Korgan down in tenth, although even that is free-to-play.

That's a solid performance from Forza Horizon 5 to take third place, especially considering that the game had been out for the best part of a month by the time this event began, so the achievement well was likely running a little dry for those who had been mainlining the game for the previous few weeks. That would go some way towards explaining the huge gap between achievement counts and the top two as well... Infinite dropped during the contest, and MCC is just so loaded with achievements that close to half a million TA players still have achievements left to mop up there after having started the collection. The Bard's Tale is probably the most notable surprise here, seemingly with it being a quick and easy completion making up for the fact that it is sort of terrible. Meanwhile, below it, we suspect that it's purely that Townscaper and Korgan have short achievement lists that didn't slot into too many of the categories that held them back from doing better, although those numbers are still far from bad — on average, roughly one in three participants used a Townscaper achievement during the event, although those are still rookie numbers compared to The Master Chief Collection, which chalked up almost exactly two achievements unlocked per player on average. Not bad going for a game that has been out for over seven years at this point...

Fastest Completions

Nether update

Folks around these parts tend to be suckers for a quick completion, and it seems like that doesn't just apply to games, but events as well. An impressive 238 lightning-fast entrants smashed Challenge 12's ratio leapfrog task within 24 hours of it going live, with one unfortunate player only missing that 24-hour cut-off by one minute. In total, 170 players wrapped up the event in the following 24-hour period, with a further 118 joining them the next, leading to a grand total of 913 players completing the event within a week of the final challenge going live — that's 39.5% of all finishers getting it done inside a week, and 1,436 finishers (62%) completing that 12th challenge before Christmas Day proper (assuming UTC time). Some didn't need nearly that long, though. Hats off to speedster TCorsan who was first past the post, poised and ready with a dozen incrementally-higher-ratio Minecraft achievements for the moment Challenge 12 went up, blitzing the leapfrog goal in just 25 minutes to be the event's first finisher. It pays to have a plan, people!

Trivia

Townscaper easy achievements

  • A total of 204 players who registered for the event didn't even manage to complete the first challenge. We get that the Xbox Series X is still in short supply, but you did realise you could unlock valid achievements on Xbox One or PC and they'd still count, right?
  • Two players managed to finish the 12th challenge to wrap up the event within an hour of the final goal going live on December 12th.
  • 401 of the 405 unlocks for Halo Infinite's Bare Your Fangs came in the second challenge — this means it was only unlocked four times in the couple of other challenges for which it would have been valid. This also suggests that lots of folks were keen to take their time with the challenges, since Infinite didn't release until a week after the second challenge went live.
  • One participant somehow managed to break the system and have Challenge 7 count twice, making them the only person to complete the secret 13 Days of Christmas objective that we totally didn't just make up to save face.
  • At the time of unlocking, achievements earned during the event had an average ratio of 2.24, resulting in a total TA Difference of 8.4 million.
  • 616 players got through all 12 challenges in December to lock in a perfect run of completing every TA Christmas event so far. Keep it up!
How did you get on in the 12 Days of Christmas event? Looking forward to the next community challenge? Spoilers: you won't have to wait very long...
Luke Albigés
Written by Luke Albigés
Luke runs the TA news team, contributing where he can primarily with reviews and other long-form features — crafts he has honed across two decades of print and online gaming media experience, having worked with the likes of gamesTM, Eurogamer, Play, Retro Gamer, Edge, and many more. He loves all things Monster Hunter, enjoys a good D&D session, and has played way too much Destiny.