If you consider video games an important part of your life, chances are, you have some sort of backlog: a catalog of video games that you've bought that you either don't have the time or inclination to beat, or many times, even play. It's a problem just about every gamer I've ever known, or talked to, has.
There are so many games out there to play, so many good games that are worthy of your time, money, and attention. You see a good deal on a game that you know is great, and you can't pass it up. 'I'll play it,' you tell yourself. But it sits for days, weeks, months, maybe even years to the point that even seeing it up on your shelf or in your catalog brings a sigh and some feelings of guilt. Not guilt because you bought it, but because you still haven't gotten around to playing it.
You know it's a good game, and you do want to play it, but life and other games just keep getting in the way. And that's just one game. Many gamers have dozens, if not hundreds of games sitting unplayed after impulse buys on Steam, eShop, PlayStation Store, or XBLA sales. You felt so good when you bought it, knowing you just got a steal on this killer game that everyone you know who plays games says is great. But it never happened. It sits, neglected, maybe never to be played, enjoyed, or appreciated at all.
If you play video games and are older than 18, you know exactly what I'm talking about.
Yeah, I'm talking to you! Don't be looking around pretending you don't know what's going on. You know you do it, just like the rest of us.
The never-ending backlog.
There's really only one way to shrink your backlog: you have to beat more games than you buy on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. It's simple math. While looking at your backlog and trying to figure out how to cut it down to something reasonable can be daunting, I'm here to tell you why having a video game backlog is actually a good thing.
1. No Game Droughts
A healthy backlog can prevent you from having nothing to play during those dry times when your system, or systems, of choice aren't producing new content like they normally do. Nothing coming out for PlayStation 4 this month that you're interested in?
Maybe it's time to dig into that one game you bought on sale last year that has multiple Game Of The Year awards that everyone but you has played. Or maybe it's time to play around with that indie game you bought on a Steam sale for $.99 that's been sitting unplayed for a year and half. Just saying. Nothing sucks worse for a gamer than not having something good to play. Having a healthy backlog means it's never an issue for you.
2. Resale Value
Are you one of those that can't resist buying Collector's Editions? Are you one of those that can't resist buying Collector's Editions and then never plays them? It's not all bad. Those Collector's Editions only appreciate in value as time goes on. Many other games do as well. If you're not going to play it, keep it in a place where it's not going to get dinged up. You could make a tidy profit if you hang onto it long enough. I have a wrapped copy of Metroid Prime Trilogy that I still haven't gotten around to playing that I bought in 2010.
Not to mention a wrapped copy of Eternal Darkness for GameCube that I bought in 2006 and Dragon Quest VIII for PlayStation 2 that I also bought in 2010. Since I can get digital versions of two of these games on other systems now, I don't think I would have the heart to open them at this point. They're worth too much money. Not every game is going to appreciate over time, but many games go out of print after awhile. You could have some gems stashed away that some crazy collector somewhere would love to get his hands on and pay you for.
3. It Looks Good
Having a big room with shelves of games to show off is impressive to other gamers. Gamers like to see each other's game rooms, game collections, and gaming set-ups to compare and contrast with their own. No one needs to know you haven't played three-quarters of the games you own. That's beside the point. As far as they know, you paid money, played, and beat every single game you own. Of course you did. I believe you. Totally.
4. You're Supporting A Thriving, Creative Industry Full Of Good People From All Over The World
OK, maybe you never will get around to playing the ridiculous amount of games you've bought. At least you can take comfort in the fact that the money you spent will be going towards an industry you love. The game you bought from that small Japanese developer that's just getting itself established will help fund their next game, and help support them and their families.
They wish that you would play their game that you already bought from them, but since you can't, or won't, they're going to do their best to put the money you gave them towards a game project that will be so good, you won't be able to not play it. There's much worse things you could be frivolously spending your money on than unplayed video games.
5. It's Not About Beating A Game, It's About The Time Spent
What is better, spending 100-plus hours on a game, but not beating it, or spending ten hours on a game that you beat, but will never go back to?
For me, I'd rather have the 100-plus hour game. Others may differ, and it may depend on what you're in the mood for at a given time, or your lifestyle in general that may or may not allow for longer game experiences. However, replay value is a priority when I buy a game, and as long as those longer games are solid and memorable, I find myself gravitating towards them.
Right now, I have about 230 hours logged in Animal Crossing: New Leaf, a game that literally has no end-goal. I have yet to get bored with it and have no plans on stopping any time soon. That's my type of game, but your mileage may vary. If you're playing a game just to beat it instead of to enjoy and appreciate it though, you should probably find something else to play.
So the next time you find yourself distraught over your mountainous backlog, keep these things in mind, fellow gamers. I have a healthy backlog, but have never felt pressure to reduce it in size, or felt guilty when the next inevitable Steam sale has come along, where Valve has always been able to squeeze a few dollars out of me no matter how strong my resolve or how full my gaming plate has been. I like that my backlog is always there for me whenever I need something to play. No shame or guilt, fellow gamers. Embrace your backlog and game on!
And now that you're done reading this, go play something.