It has never been easier to get video games than now with digital distribution paving the way to bundles and sales all over the place. They’re great, but you then realize that you have way too many games and too little time to finish them before you know it. Video games now seldom get finished due to both oversaturation and the attitudes of gamers these days. There are so many games now, but so little time to enjoy all of them. I’m not saying outright that game hoarding is really bad, but you have to play what you buy.
I have almost 400 games now in my Steam library, and then a few more in my uPlay and GOG accounts. I also have some console games on my shelf and in my PS3’s hard drive. Obviously, I haven’t played them all yet—much less finish them—since I do have work and other priorities to get to. Now I have to set aside some time and effort into putting those games to good use (for the website, of course).
Definition of “Game Hoarding”
Collecting games is not bad; it’s a hobby like any other. Serious retro gamers in particular tend to have have shelves of old cartridges. They browse eBay and Craigslist daily to find whatever they don’t have yet and build their own cornucopia of splendor.
But then, purchasing games en masse and not touching them for an extended period of time is technically game hoarding. It’s good to give money to developers who’ve toiled to make these games, but it’s also important to enjoy their work as well.
It’s easy enough to hoard games these days due to game bundle stores like Humble Bundle, Bundle Stars, and Indie Gala. That’s how my Steam library ballooned from under 80 games to 400. That’s what happens when your Xmas game shopping spree continues all the way through March and beyond.
Digital Game Hoarding (and my recent experience)
Take note that I’m talking about game hoarding at a severe to extreme scale in this article. If you happen to be a game collector and you get offended by the following, then that’s on you. As with any act of excess, game hoarding is rooted in various psychological problems, similar to other addictions and other compulsive behaviors.
In my case, the act of buying game bundles on the cheap had its rewards. It’s mostly being able to get a title I’ve been wanting to have for a while for a very low price while having other games to go along with it as well. The bargains were nuts, and I also liked that a good portion of what I pay goes directly to the developers. Some of it even goes to charity as well, as is the case with Humble Bundle.
Those good points kind of justified my splurge, which occurred from December 2014 to April 2015. Last year was pretty good to me financially, so I thought that I could reward myself for it by growing my Steam library. It started innocent enough, but having a credit card (or debit card in my case) and a PayPal account accessible with a few clicks meant that I could just buy whenever I wanted.
Perhaps it was also to calm my bleeding heart in a way. I had been dealing with depression for most of 2010s so far, and video games help with “that sinking feeling” most of the time since I don’t have to deal with those voices in the back of my head whenever I play something. Finally having the financial freedom to buy whatever I wanted added a whole new dimension to that therapy. Many people have it with shopping for clothes and shoes; I have it with buying games.
It came to a point where I had to slow down once many of the bundles I’ve been purchasing had games that I already owned. Fortunately, I was able to pump the brakes and taper off (and also take the first step of admitting my problem in this blog post). Those $1 to $5 purchases do add up quickly if you don’t watch it, and it also means that most of those games just end up sitting there with no minutes played.
Having Too Many Games
You know you have too many games when you don’t even remember getting most of them, although you do get a list of your games in the library. It wouldn’t matter much if you only have 30 games, but you’ll need it once you get to over 100. Being able to keep track of every title is key to getting through them.
This is where gamers who usually play only one or two games (MOBA and MMO players, among others) have an advantage over collectors and hoarders. On the other hand, there are those like me who value breadth of experience and appreciation for different games. (Being able to write about these games is a bonus.)
You should still get value for your money, although most gamers don’t always finish video games these days. Most AAA singleplayer releases have an average bounce rate of 90% — meaning that only around 10% get to finish them. That’s what happens when there’s more than 12 hours of content and only a few hours of free time for most people each week.
There’s no shame in not being able to finish games; a lot of people don’t finish books and TV shows either. But it does stand to reason that a product of the developers’ hard work should be appreciated in its entirety if possible. But then again, what usually happens is you’ll promise yourself that you’ll play them the next time you’re free, but you then find yourself unable to do so for various reasons.
As with many other things in life, starting is the hardest thing to do. If you do set aside the time to power through your game library, then here are some ideas on what to do.
Ideas on What to Do with Them
The obvious thing is to play the games, but you’ll have to accept that it’s hard to go through that library. You’ve pretty much screwed yourself over by buying too many games at once. There are also the upcoming releases, so the library may get even bigger unless you make a decision to stop buying altogether.
Let’s say you already have 400 or more games in your Steam library and you’re thinking of going through as many of them as you can. If you can play a game a day, you won’t get through them all by the end of the year. Perhaps you can leave out multiplayer and “endless play” titles and have everything that can be finished in at least one go.
If you’re patient and pedantic enough, you can have a checklist of what you’re willing to play through. It’s up to you on how to keep track of your gameplay, but it’s a good rule of thumb to have some way to know what you’ve already finished. It’s not to say that you can’t play a finished game again if you wish, but you may want to put time into other titles at that point.
You can use the category function in Steam to your advantage, putting in separate categories the titles you’ve finished, those you’re about to finish, those you’d play repeatedly, online multiplayer games, and games that have no real end. Whatever your method is, just take note that organization can help here, even if you think that’s ridiculous.
Upon playing them, you can write about them, take part in forums, and even make videos about them if you wish. It can be about whether you like them or hate them. That’s the main reason why this website exists, so there should be more game reviews and features. (Yeah, there should be more. I need to “blog” more.)
Why Have So Many Games?
I don’t know. Why do people splurge on shopping? Why do crowds get rowdy during sales? Having stuff is quite a powerful thing, even if others think there’s too much to be had. You can be the practical cynic on the side who scoffs at such blatant lack of self-control, but most people do have their indulgences.
Even I myself am like that most of the time; I live a fairly simple lifestyle and the only things I have in excess are games and books. Unless you are a monk living in a monastery up in the mountains, you’d most likely have something in excess as well.
For those who do have a lot of games, it’s because they love the medium and would like to experience as much of it as possible. Unfortunately, that enthusiasm can go a bit too far and there’s only so much time for playing them before having to trudge reluctantly back to work and other obligations.
In the meantime, perhaps it’s nice to be in an environment surrounded by such joy. Every single title in the library holds potential for hours of fun, even if some of them do turn out to be less than satisfactory in quality.
How to Control Game Hoarding
Being able to control the behavioral triggers that result in game hoarding is about sticking to a definite rule of thumb:
“Play what you buy.”
All game purchasing decisions have to involve asking yourself whether if you have the time, energy, and motivation to actually play what you’re about to buy. It’s also an exercise of self-honesty, wherein you have to pull no punches with answering that question for yourself.
If you know you can’t play at least 50-75% of the game in question, then you mustn’t buy it, no matter how good the game is and how much of a bargain the deal is. It’s just like with everything else in life; the only difference is that downloaded games don’t literally gather dust in your house.
(I say at least 50% and not 100% because it’s possible that a game could be so bad for you that you may not be able to finish it.)
This is a humble plea to those who may have more games than they can go through in a single vacation period. You may not be able to check every title off your to-do list, but do know that finishing games feels good. If anything, it helps reaffirm one’s love for video games.
However, if you’re spending a big chunk of your cash on games that you’ll never get to play, then there may be a problem. There may be a hole in your heart that you’re trying to fill, and game hoarding is only a temporary fix to that. It’s not a definite solution, but perhaps you can try finishing those games and get a sense of accomplishment from that. That could then translate to the real world, where finishing what you’ve started is the key to a better life.
If you don’t believe that, then try it out and see for yourself. In any case, you’ve already bought the games and the publishers are in the money. If you can actually have fun with them now, then that would be great.
- Video Game Collecting Vs. Hoarding (Pause Press Radio)
- Why most people don’t finish video games (CNN)
- Most players won’t finish your game – and that’s not a bad thing! (Gamasutra)