The Backlog Versus Reality


This is one of my backlog shelves. I strategically position them in a way that it is easiest for me to reach while I’m sitting at my gaming desk. I like to think that having those particular games sit in prime shelf space serve as a reminder that I want to get around to these eventually. Between physical and digital releases, I have a few dozen unplayed games lying around.

Having the luxury to play something new to me at a moment’s notice is nice. However, there is a certain point where the expectation of completing a backlog becomes unrealistic.

Gaming can be a very expensive hobby when new physical releases are $60 a pop. Because of that, it’s hard to contain my wallet when games I’ve wanted to play, yet couldn’t justify $60 for, go on sale. Personally, I crumble when a game I have even the slightest interest in hits $20 or less. Target in particular got me good with their crazy markdowns, as they were routinely blowing out their older or stagnant stock for $5 to $15. On one hand, yes, I’m saving a ton of money by buying these once full-priced games for way less. However, what value do I get out of a game if I never actually get around to playing it?

Let’s use Resistance 2 as an example. I never played the original game. Quite frankly, I had very little interest in trying out the franchise at all. However, I got it as part of a buy-two-get-one-free deal and figured it was worth it. Besides, the general consensus is that the game is good, so why not pick it up? Well, years after purchase, that game continued to sit on my shelf, still sealed. I may have saved a few dollars a few years ago, but that savings means nothing when I don’t actually play it.

Why didn’t I take the time to try it? Well, the thing is, the amount of games I buy versus the amount of games I play does not equal out. I buy games almost every week, yet it usually takes me about two weeks to finish one. At a certain point, the backlog just gets too big and certain games will never make it to the front of the line. Sure, I could just randomly throw in all of my backlog games just to say that I tried them, but this sort of scatter-shot approach will likely lead to me not finishing them anyway.

Trade-inA few days ago, I finally accepted the fact that there are games in my collection that I’ll never get around to playing, such as Resistance 2, Shadows of the Damned and Two Worlds II. Instead of letting them sit on the shelf to collect dust forever, I decided to trade them in. Sure, the trade-in values for some of those games is paltry, but that is still better than the non-existent value I get from having them sit on my shelf. With the games pictured above, I traded them in for Skylanders: Swap Force. Maybe I lost the value that could have come from playing those games I never took out of the plastic. However, the fact that I’ve already played Skylanders and never even thought to open the others is further proof of this reality.

Going forward, I need to do a better job of realizing that there’s more to the purchase consideration than an interest in the game and an attractive price point. If I’ll never get around to playing it, I really should save my money for something else I really want instead.

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5 thoughts on “The Backlog Versus Reality

  1. ezrawexler December 18, 2013 / 4:37 PM

    I’ve tried to slow the whole thing down by finishing a game at a time before before buying new ones. This is actually something that I’ve also blogged about a few times. At one point I think I had over 60 unfinished or unstarted games. Pretty ridiculous when you consider that gaming should actually be relatively inexpensive as one 60 dollar game can easily entertain for more than 60 hours, which if you get to play for 2 hours a day should last a whole month… Of course, it depends on the game, but an example is kingdoms of amalur that you have there. That game is very fun and easily has 100hrs of stuff to do. Then there are games like animal crossing which people play for 400hrs. I got about 100hrs out of borderlands 2. My general rule is that I want each hour to cost me about 1$, not including the cost of the console of course. Excuse the longer comment, but I enjoy this topic. 🙂

      • ezrawexler December 19, 2013 / 4:08 PM

        Right on, I’ll check it out!

      • ezrawexler December 19, 2013 / 4:18 PM

        Cool, good article. I do agree with you from a “valuation” perspective. I think of it more in relation to the overall cost of being a gamer. I personally like when it works out to be about 1$ an hour to be a gamer as I play about 1000 hours a year and do not want to spend more than 1000$ a year. If a game costs less than a dollar an hour I see it as a savings, not as a value add. And those savings can go towards consoles every few years. Now, if I was someone who could just buy one game and play it for all my game time for a year, like a monster hunter or an animal crossing for example, I would probably have never even considered any of this. But as someone who is always drawn in by the new, and used to end up with mighty backlogs, this metric works more to keep me in check than to help me evaluate the worth of the games.

  2. Matthew Farmer December 20, 2013 / 11:06 AM

    Dragon Age is in your backlog. That’s a whole lot of hours by itself :p

    I understand exactly what you’re talking about, and I’ve had the same problem since starting gaming on PC. Steam sales are absolute murder on backlogs. I’ve bought so many games “because CHEAP” and then realized that I had no actual interest in the games I’d bought.

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