So many games, so little time.
Sometime ago, I wrote an article discussing the fact that in this day and age, it simply isn’t cost efficient to purchase games brand new at the full price of $50, and I was saying this before even Nintendo joined the $60 MSRP that the HD era has brought upon us. Indeed, I did grow up in the 90’s when cartridges were as high as $70 for Squaresoft RPGs, and $59.99 for other standard titles. But the 90’s was also a decade of prosperity during the Clinton administration before all the recessions hit. I’m not going to go all Grantland or TMQ on ya, but I dare you to call me a liar if I were to say that the average Joe and Jane isn’t making as much as they could have been 10-15 years ago. When I turned 16, gas was still 99 cents/gal. When the PS4 and Xbone launched, I’m sure that all the credit card companies were pleased.
But that’s macroeconomics. I’m here to talk about video games.
So by the time a gaming generation passes me by, or in the most recent case, I grab a PS3 four years into its life-cycle like I did when it finally turned $300, the wishlist that I have accumulated is considerable. For example, when I purchased my PS3 in 2009, my wishlist included games such as Tekken 6, Heavenly Sword, and Uncharted. If I recall correctly, the original God of War HD collection which included only God of War and God of War 2 had released right before God of War 3. I purchased these at around $20 each, and learned about Dante’s Inferno soon after tiring of the button-mashing GoW games. While it might seem ironic that I would desire to play a “GoW clone” after becoming bored with the inspirational series, I’m a big fan of the original epic poem, and found Visceral Games’ rendition of the Nine Circles of Hell both startling yet intriguing. Besides, Dante is a much more colorful character than Kratos—literally and figuratively.
And that’s just for starters on the PS3 without getting into stuff that had yet to drop in price such as Gran Turismo 5 or Heavy Rain, let alone Steam Sales.
Speaking of Steam Sales, at the time of this writing, the Steam Holiday Sale 2013 is coming to a close, Direct2Drive while Green Man Gaming, Amazon PC PCDD are also winding down (was devoured by GameFly). Digression: this might not be unique to the video game industry, but I feel that it hurts itself by being so heavy-loaded during the Christmas shopping season. The PC market does significantly better due to Valve and its seasonal sales, but for consoles, one must wait until late October to early November before TRU or Target does a buy-two-get-one-free video game sale. This year was particularly raucous, with games like The Last of Us, Beyond: Two Souls and Rayaman Legends selling for $25 each during Black Friday. Things became even more inhospitable for frugal wallets everywhere when Tomb Raider (2013), Far Cry 3, Bioshock: Infinite, and Shadow Warrior (2013) all fell to $10 at least four different times in thirty days. These are all critically-acclaimed games that were released within the calendar year!!!! Why companies and retailers wait to drop MSRP simultaneously rather than say, the spring, when they would not be competing directly with each other—as was the sentiment concerning Ubisoft delaying Rayman Legends for almost a full year—nobody knows. But if you’re like me and almost never pay full-price for video games, then you might find yourself flooded with a gaming backlog.
For the less hardcore, a gaming backlog is exactly what it sounds like. When it comes to movies, with the exception of the blockbusters (translation: Disney/Marvel), I wait until the movies come out on video (I’m intentionally dating myself with that phrase), then I would watch them. I especially do this with the Academy Award winters, because I would pretty much never pay money to see the kind of esoteric movies that film critics like uphold as the zenith of art direction. Similarly, I’m not paying $60 for [insert shooter here, the most popular genre of the past generation], because outside of say, Medal of Honor and a few scenes split between Gears of War 2 and 3, I generally find the genre mundane due to lack of gripping story elements. Shooting games these days are like Michael Bay movies, full of action-packed set pieces which culminate into nothing substantial because the player-characters are comprised of the stuff that made Stallone, “Schwartz,” and Van Damme famous in the 80’s; it is difficult to take characters seriously in a setting designed to be serious if there might be only twenty to thirty minutes of character development throughout a ten-hour campaign. And since I’ve accumulated a backlog of these kinds of games, by the time I get around to the good stuff, it’s that much sweeter after plodding through the mediocrity. So why would I bother playing mediocre games and just focus on quality ones?
I’m a gamer, and that’s just what I do.
An epicurean can only be knowledgeable if s/he experiences both the euphoric and the miasma.
As per the good stuff being sweeter, one way that I’ve come to organize my gaming inventory is through a list I maintain on backloggery.com. Its principle purpose is to be a virtual/visual representation of the user’s gamer delinquency. Admittedly, it is a headache first starting, especially if you are like me and attempt(ed) to archive my entire gaming history (the site recommends against this). For most, though, you might want to just focus on what you own but have not played, because you have to manually add them.
Actually, many features of backloggery.com have evolved over the years; when I first started, there was no option to indicate games that users have not even played, but just games that have not been beaten. I am sure that it is because of the aforementioned digital gaming retailers and the industry’s affinity for DLC over full-blown expansions that backloggery.com expanded its options. I particularly enjoy the ability to post my backloggery tag in my signature on message boards that allow them. From my experience, it generally lists only the three most recent and active games that you have indicated even though I might have up to ten (!!!) games listed that I am actively playing.
How do I decide which game to play? By my fancy. Sometimes, I might look on my HDD and be like, “Oh, I have not played Grim Fandango yet. I’d like to play that before a modern point-and-click adventure like Machinarium .” Sometimes, it’s hype. So I might bump up Dragon Age: Origins on the queue because it was rumored to be the best RPG since Baldur’s Gate 2; or I play Mario Galaxy because it’s rumored to be the GOAT. Other times, I make practical choices. For example, a friend or someone who respects my opinion might tell me to check out a game such The Walking Dead so we can discuss it. Other times, I’m not going to play Call of Duty: Ghosts before playing Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, nor would I play Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena before playing Escape from Butcher Bay.