We've all been there. The used games priced under $20. The irresistible Steam sales. When you have the money to buy whatever you like, your gaming habits change — often for the worse.
DmC: Devil May Cry came out today. There’s a copy of it sitting on my desk, but I won’t be playing it anytime soon. Sure, I’ll peel off the shrink wrap in a few minutes so I can record an episode of Mashing Buttons, but then it’s going on my shelf for at least a few weeks because I have a system. It dictates what games I play, when I play them, and how much time I can dedicate to them. Whether I like it or not, I am currently a slave to this system. It’s not a person or an app or anything like that.
It’s my shelf.
When I got my first job out of college and realized that I could afford to buy any game I wanted to play, I filled up all the empty space on my shelf with titles and even a PlayStation Vita. However, that newfound fortune came with a catch: spending time at work instead of with a controller. This resulted in a backlog of fantastic games that goes as far back as August. I’ve been making steady progress, but the video game industry discovered it could sell me games every month of the year and not just during the holidays. Because of this, my backlog has continued to grow at a near-unmanageable rate despite my efforts to stop it. Even from here, I can tell that March’s buffet of gaming goodness is going to be a bloodbath at retail and for my shelves.
Most casual players are probably pickier with their selection and don’t buy nearly everything that costs less than $10 during a Steam sale. Those players usually don’t run into this issue. I’m not those players. To make matters worse, I’m one of those people that has to finish every game I start. This means I’ve wasted countless hours playing bad games just because I didn’t have the foresight to avoid pressing the Start button, which takes time away from the good games in my backlog.
I want to play Sleeping Dogs. I want to play Persona 4: Golden. Before my brain will let me, though, I need to finish Resident Evil 6 — a game with a ridiculous logo that I think is kinda bad. I’ve started watching Netflix on my laptop while playing just so I can mindlessly shoot my way through. It’s actively boring, but I can’t fight the system. My backlog is my burden to bear.
I have a problem, but I’m looking for a solution. I’m going to try going back to my old ways of waiting for reviews and making tough decisions about what games I want to play. Just because I can buy any game that I want to does not mean that I should. With time more precious than it’s ever been before, maybe I can’t really afford every game I want to play after all.