WARNING: THE FOLLOWING CONFESSION IS SO DANK IT SHOULD NOT BE READ BY ANYONE WITH A SERIOUS MEDICAL CONDITION OR A WEAK STOMACH. IF YOU ARE PREGNANT, MAY BECOME PREGNANT, OR IF YOUR MOTHER WAS AT ONE TIME PREGNANT WITH YOU, YOU SHOULD NOT READ THIS CONFESSION. THIS CONFESSION IS SO DANK IT HAS BEEN KNOWN TO CAUSE MEDICAL PROBLEMS, INCLUDING DRY MOUTH, TOE JAM, TENNIS ELBOW, WATER ON THE KNEE, SAILOR'S COCCYX, KLINGON TONGUE, DANCING LIVER and WANDERING NOSE. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
Every gamer has games she hasn't finished. It's inevitable that some games will lose your interest before the end, or have a difficulty spike you can't overcome, or just be lost in the shuffle when something new and shiny comes along to occupy your time. You won't 'beat' everything you play.
Most gamers have a backlog. Games they bought on sale, or just because they wanted them, but never got around to playing. For many this backlog can reach hundreds of games, which they'll "get around to playing some day" even though games keep coming out and they keep buying them.
What I'm talking about tonight, however, is something altogether darker. I'm talking about the games I bought but have abandoned all hope of ever playing. They may still be in the shrinkwrap, or be on some online service never downloaded, or even be installed on a hard drive, but I know I will never play them. Over my years as a gamer and collecter I have acquired many such games. More than I care to admit. I am not going to talk about each game I've 'abandoned' but will describe some categories, and the reasons why I know I will never go back to play these games I spent money on.
1. THE DOUBLE DIP
The double dip is the easiest to understand reason why a game might be put aside, never played. Put simply, a better version came out. An example from my collection is the Last of Us. I bought it around the time it came out for the PS3, but things got busy and it was never the right time, then GTA V came out and then the 8th gen consoles, and I never got around to playing it. A year after the first release a remastered version came out for PS4, and people said it fixed frame rate issues and had a better multiplayer population at that point. So I waited for a sale, bought the Remastered version, and played through that. My PS3 copy remains in the shinkwrap and I can’t imagine a circumstance when I’d actually play this. This has happened for other games as well, generally when the upgraded version can be had cheaply and features a large upgrade. I always wanted to play Gravity Rush, but I’m never going to play the copy I got on VITA because I’d rather play a game like that on PS4, which is now an option. I think anyone who has a significant backlog has felt the call of or even fallen victim to the double dip. In the end if I’m going to play a game I want to play the best version available for the systems I have, especially if the upgrade isn’t particularly pricey.
2. THE OBSOLETE
I’m not the kind of gamer who has to play things right when they’re released. I’m happy going back to play older games, but certain games just aren’t worth going back to. The most obvious example is sports games, which get replaced with the newer option every year (or two). If I’m going to get into Madden it’s not going to be with last year’s copy, even if I happen to have picked one up cheap. I got the EA UFC game for $10, never played it, and now with UFC 2 out I never will. The same is true of the dead online game. This might be a game that’s actually dead, with servers no longer online, but more usually it’s just a game with no active population playing it. It’s pretty rare for this to happen to me, since I don’t buy online focused games unless I want to play them immediately, but it's not unknown. I bought R.I.P.D. very cheap on sale, but after trying to find a game on PS3 to play God Mode with, and failing, I never even bothered with R.I.P.D. (it’s apparently a terrible game anyway.) Lead and Gold: Gangs of the Wild West looked interesting to me, and I acquired a copy somehow (maybe through Playstation Plus?) but I imagine the servers are long deceased and I’m never going to boot up my old PS3 to find out. It had its time and place, and I missed it.
3. THE MEDIOCRE
I collect games somewhat compulsively, especially when they’re very cheap. I like having a large library of games to pick from, and I try to play a variety of games (when I have time) not just the big hits. This can be a good thing. I had a lot of fun with Conan on the 360, of a type I might not have with a better game. I also enjoyed the heck out of Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, even though reviewers didn’t. Was it as good as Arkham Asylum? No, but it was fun in a different way, and to me it was a solid B+ to Arkham’s A. However, while I like playing “B-tier” games and I have a nice collection of them, I am extremely unlikely to go back a generation to play them. While I like retro and older games, I have limited time and I’m not going to spend it playing through a lengthy but poorly regarded adventure like The First Templar or the Cursed Crusade. Not when my backlog is full of better games to play. If I’m going to play a 360 era cover shooter it’s going to be Binary Domain, not Inversion and, despite my love of Insomniac, not Fuse either. I played Uncharted 4 already, and Gears 4 is coming out this year, so it’s not like we’re lacking for modern incarnations of this genre, and there needs to be something special (like a famously bonkers story) to pull me back to older hardware.
The mediocre category is the hardest to define, because there are plenty of games from my backlog I will probably never get to even if I don’t think of them as being “mediocre” in the way that Fuse or Inversion are. My backlog keeps growing and time keeps on ticking forward. Will I ever get to Far Cry 3? I’d like to think so, but it’s likely I won’t at this point. That doesn’t make it a mediocre or ‘abandoned’ game, though, just a game I never got around to playing.
I’m sure if anyone reads this far they’re likely to want to lecture me about how this shows I should buy fewer games and stop wasting my money. That’s a fine sentiment, but I don’t feel that way. The truth is, I enjoy buying and collecting games, physically and digitally. I get a pleasure out of looking for deals, and building a library, that’s somewhat independent of whether I actually play the games in question. Will I ever get around to that $9 copy of Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands that I bought in 2011? I don’t know, maybe, but I enjoyed buying it and having the option anyway, and it didn’t cost very much.
The truth is, I don’t want to change. My video game spending isn’t out of control and it doesn’t consume a huge part of my income. While I buy games to play them, I don’t always get around to it, and in some cases I never will. I enjoyed the buying, the feeling of possibility an an adventure not yet embarked on that comes with owning a new game. I like having a collection to choose from and I’m willing to accept that sometimes the spending is frivolous and wasteful. There are lots of frivolous and wasteful ways to spend money, and bad habits that are more harmful than collecting video games. So the dankest confession of all is that even though I’ve bought a fair number of games I know I’ll never play I don’t regret it and I don’t intend to change.
P.S. Oh, and for those about to suggest that I sell the unplayed games, by the time I get around to being confident I won't play something it has generally lost all its value. I could gather up the titles I know I never play and take them to a Gamestop or something and maybe get $50-$100 in credit, but it wouldn't be worth it, at least not for me. For that kind of return I'd rather just leave them in my collection.