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:
- 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
- Your time is important, so why should you spend it on something that isn’t worth your attention? Reading up on reviews is a must when deciding whether a game is worth your time (and money).
- Some reviews to help you get started:
- 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.
- 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!
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.