Six weeks in, and 2016 is already looking like another exciting and jam-packed year for gamers. Even Spring, the formerly-reliable gaming wasteland, is looking full of big titles with Uncharted 4, Quantum Break, The Division and Mirror’s Edge Catalyst all due within the next few months. But if all goes to plan I won’t be buying any of them – I’ll be ignoring the new releases, skipping the sales, and (literally) playing catch-up. And if it goes well, maybe, just maybe, I’ll start to #BeatTheBacklog.
Now before I get slated on Twitter, let me get this out there early – owning a backlog of great games is actually a wonderful thing, and quite possibly the most “first-world” of all the first-world problems. Without spending another penny, I have months, possibly years, of great entertainment ahead of me – thrilling action, captivating stories and a number of previous game of the year winners to explore and enjoy. Already this year, I’ve had the pleasure of completing both Gears of War 3 and Portal 2 – both fantastic games, both over four years old and both were sat there waiting for me to play for “free”.
It’s a sizable challenge but also one I’m really excited about. As well as the fun I’ll have and money I’ll “save”, this is something I simply want to do. Over the past year or so I’ve felt increasingly strongly about waste, and taken some little steps to living simpler, more sustainable lifestyle. I’m not going “full crusty” and will always be a gamer, but the gaming backlog has become a bit of a guilty secret – a final hangover from a previous life that I feel I’ve left behind. It’s ridiculous and kind of obscene, so 2016 is the year I’ve decided that enough is enough. I won’t stop spending entirely though, as I plan to keep up my subscriptions to Xbox Live Gold, Playstation Plus (PS+) and EA Access when they come up for annual renewal. One step at a time eh?
5 ways I think I might just do it
- Know my enemy. I knew it was bad but my collection is nearly double what I expected. I now have a plan … that’s a start.
- Not making it worse. Stop buying or asking for new stuff! Thanks to those subscriptions the “free” games will keep on coming anyway.
- Be selective. I’m going to play everything I’ve bought or been gifted but only the freebies I really want to.
- Completer/finisher. I enjoy finishing a story but don’t feel the need to collect every coin/feather/orb.
- Don’t forget to have fun! Well, exactly. I’m no quitter but some games I just won’t want to finish or play again. I’m ok with that.
This situation has been coming for a while. Over the years, as my career has taken off, my spare time (and attention span) have fallen dramatically down. But, while I had less time for gaming, I seemed incapable or unwilling to tell this to my wallet. A lack of self-control and the temptation of those pre-orders and, more commonly, the digital deals and irresistible sales “bargains” has created something to rival the CAP’s infamous butter mountains. I’d been aware I had problem, but it was still a surprise when I finally took stock … we’re talking around 100 games that lie unfinished (or 140 if you include “freebies” that I actually want to play). Plenty, though not all, have not been started. That’s an immense stockpile of un-tapped gaming memories.
Sure, it’ll involve some compromises – particularly around those multiplayer titles like The Division where I’ll miss the socialising, full servers and relatively-level playing field that only exist around the launch window. But as I play my way through Fallout 3 (yes, 3!) and the like, I’ll watch the price of those new titles tumble and the bugs get patched. That “complete editions” aren’t going to hurt so much when they get announced a few months after the original, those Games with Gold and PS+ titles are going to be a treat and my bank balance will look a lot healthier too.
Who knows how this will turn out. Will I stop buying games at all perhaps? happily replaying the classics, looking forward to each month’s freebies, and making the most of things like the EA Vault. Or I might end up perennially behind, carefully avoiding spoilers and picking up the best of the previous years for bargain prices. It would take a while but maybe I will actually “beat the backlog” and go back to reading the previews, placing those pre-orders and playing things when they actually come out. Until then, however, I’m looking forward to a great future of gaming past.
I’ll be posting regular updates on my Twitter @LiveWatchPlay and my site at www.livewatchplay.com. In the same boat? Join in by using the hashtag #BeatTheBacklog.