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How to tackle your videogames backlog

A common problem for gamers today is the backlog of games we tend to accumulate. This is caused by two reasons: greater purchasing power as grown ups, and more (and better!) games being available. Unfortunately, most of us have become busier as well, making it difficult to get through the games we buy faster than we acquire them. We’ll discuss a few considerations that hopefully help you make better decisions when tackling your backlog.

The kids that grew up playing videogames have now grown up, have jobs and money to buy the games they want to play, but often find themselves too busy to actually get through them all. Digital formats have made it much easier to buy games on the spot, and with online subscription services (like Xbox Live) offering free monthly games means that every month, there’s at least 2-3 games to add to the count.

Additionally, gaming has grown so much as an industry, that more developers and publishers pop up every day, trying to capture a piece of the market for themselves. Competition, in turn, has led to higher quality games being made, and as a result, more games for us to want to play, buy, and eventually place on our backlog.

Now that my backlog probably reaches more than 100 games (including the monthly subscription ones), I’ve tried to come up with a structured approach to help alleviate the frustration, and to help me feel I am actually making a dent on my collection. As an engineer (or rather, a proper geek), I developed a spreadsheet involving calculations and formulae that consider a series of factors.

I may at some point share the actual spreadsheet one day, but since I don’t want to scare you (yet!), I won’t go into the actual numbers. Instead I’ll describe the considerations I make when deciding what to play next. This isn’t by any means an exhaustive list, but it’s certainly a good place to start:

  • Duration:
    • Completing a game is an achievement that requires commitment. If you find yourself too busy to get through a game, and are forced to leave it halfway through for an extended period of time, chances are, you won’t feel like starting over or learning the mechanics all over again. I tend to prefer shorter games in the 12-15 hour range, over great adventures that take 50+ hours to complete
  • Rating:
  • Format – Physical vs. Digital
    • This is more an issue of convenience. I’ve now decided to move towards digital, but I still have some discs and cartridges laying around the house. There’s always a chance to lose or misplace them, so why not get them over with and put them away for good? Or trade them in for some extra cash?
  • Difficulty to complete achievements / trophies
    • I love achievements and trophies, and there was a time when I was really driven by them, but not anymore. However, I still get the excitement and rush from hearing the chime pop up and then seeing my gamerscore increase, so if a game has trophies and they are easy enough, why not give it a chance, too?
  • Previous/current generation:
    • The longer you wait, the less appealing a game will appear. It’s unavoidable: graphics get better, mechanics get optimized, and features get added. Admit it, we can usually go into old games if we played them in their prime due to nostalgia, but it’s hard to appreciate old games starting fresh today. Try to play older games first, before it’s too late.
  • Paid vs. free
    • I tend to de-prioritize games that I get as part of my monthly subscriptions, mainly because I didn’t consciously spend money to acquire them, and I may not necessarily be interested in them. If you do actually spend money to buy a game, make sure you give it e a chance and justify your purchase. This has actually been a key factor to help me reduce the amount of games I buy.
  • Portabilty
    • I travel for work, which means I can get a lot more done while on the road if a game is portable. Games on the Nintendo Switch, PS Vita, and my newly acquired laptop will be favored over my XBOX One an PS4 ones, which I’ll play exclusively when I’m home.
  • Already playing it
    • Finally, if you’ve already started a game, make sure you stick with it before starting another one, otherwise, it will go straight back to the backlog, and you’ll probably have to start it from the beginning again.

Again, this is not the end-all list of considerations. You can always just pick a game because you’ve been meaning to play it or because you don’t wan it to be spoiled online, or simply because you are in the mood. Do you agree with this approach? What factors do you use to help you decide? Do you just…Random(ly) Select games when you play? (see what I did there?).

Thanks for reading!

eduv77 View All

I've been a gamer since the SNES days and Donkey Kong Country was the first game I ever owned.
I currently work as a management consultant, and my console of choice is the Nintendo Switch, which I carry with me during my travels.

5 thoughts on “How to tackle your videogames backlog Leave a comment

  1. Very helpful to have that list written down to get back to as a reference.
    My personal problem is that I constantly get dragged back to games I already played a lot. Just because they are fantastic and I already know the mechanics. Plus, even though I finished them, there’s extra content I haven’t touched yet. I only recently acquired the Witcher expansion and just now started playing Blood and Wine even though this is my third playthrough. And although I got a platinum in Horizon Zero Dawn, I still get negged by that separate New Game Plus trophy just sitting there.
    This leaves a lot of other games cold on the shelves even if I tried to start them. Some of them I stopped playing because they disappointed me too much in the very beginning, and like you mentioned, I don’t want to waste my time on something that’s not worth it (looking at you, Final Fantasy XV).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, I’m glad this was helpful! I completely understand what you mean. I sometimes do feel like I’m rushing through games just to finish them, and find myself wanting to go back to games that I found to be very special. I think it’s also because of the sense of familiarity, and the comfort of knowing you’re not risking that disappointment. I suppose it’s a matter of finding a balance between making sure you’re getting through the games you want, while also remembering that this hobby is all about having fun and enjoying yourself in the end. Once we forget that, we’re in trouble.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello Edu,
    Just a quick post on the subject,
    I currently use two website to help me with my video game Backlog,
    the first one is https://backloggery.com
    as the name indicates it aims to help you reduce your backlog, nothing a excel spreadsheet wouldnt handle but nice nonetheless.
    the second one is https://howlongtobeat.com
    and once again pretty self explanatory, gives you the time to finish the main story, main story +Extras, Completionist.
    A great tool to know how much you are in for when you start a new game to make sure you can take the time to finish it,
    because in my case the main reason for my backlog is that i was forced to stop playing (trip, work etc) and never go back to playing it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Simon! I will definitely be checking out backloggery.com, you may be onto something here! I actually do look at How Long To Beat to feed my spreadsheet with the duration of the game, so I’m glad I’m using the right sources. According to HLTB, my backlog of purchased games (excluding monthly subscriptions) is about 750 hours. Yikes!!

      Like

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