Online Stores Making “The List” Insurmountable

Most people who identify themselves as gamers can easily relate and understand the concept of the “list.” That collection of games that you’ve sworn you’ll beat that seems to gather and compound almost exponentially over time. You start off with a simple run at Minecraft and the next thing you know you’ve convinced yourself that beating every Bioware title consecutively has to happen.

In a time where access to video games has become easier (and often cheaper) than buying a morning cup of coffee, online stores like Origin, Steam and Good Old Games are flourishing. Alongside their growth comes the painful truth that they may be responsible for a backlog of games we will never overcome.

Take Steam; for instance. Before it started to see widespread popularity around 2005, many gamers were still locked to their consoles living off of the two to three games that they had. Even if you were sitting on Treasure Island for the PlayStation 2, you would still power your way through it because that was all you could afford on an allowances salary. These were the times when buyer’s remorse made people more educated when it came to the purchases that they made.

The problems that arise now, are that for the price of a full, boxed title, you can just as easily acquire 70 other games for the same price permitting you wait for the inevitable sales. Good Old Games, for instance, held a winter promo sale recently with nearly $100 in Dungeons & Dragons games selling for about $21. With developers permitting these sales, they are often gaining a near equal amount of profit with selling games en masse rather than a few at higher prices. It becomes easier and more appealing to get every popular D&D game rather than buy just one, and you realistically end up with about 10 games that you may never even touch.

Another instance of this phenomenon is the rise of the Humble Bundle. Humble Bundle is a website that sells a collection off digital items, whether it is games, books, soundtracks or anything of the likeness. The price paid, however, isn’t set by the developers or the website itself. Those who wish to take advantage of the service can pay any price that they set but there is incentive to pay more as you unlock more games by doing so. You can set the percentage of the money you spend to be distributed as you wish to charity, the website and the developers themselves. Having the option to spend less than a dollar for upwards of five games is testament to the issue that gamers are bringing upon themselves.

It isn’t just the prices that are contributing to making your “list” insurmountable, it is the fact that you can get your hands on games (so to speak) easier than ever. With online stores becoming more intuitive and accessible, you can find yourself buying the full Painkiller series for less than $10 while you’re sitting on the toilet. If you have some form of internet connection, you can likely be adding to your “list.”

This isn’t just a PC phenomenon either. It has become par for the course to hand out games on consoles too. The PlayStation Plus service is perhaps the most giving of the bunch. New games are set out on the PlayStation 4, 3 and Vita every month for “free” (factoring in the subscription), and this leaves some gamers finding themselves having a catalogue of games they were given that overshadows the games they’ve purchased themselves for the consoles.

The greatest issue here that is perhaps the reason why huge “lists” are becoming a fact of life rather than a set of games you’d like to play. The easy access to cheap games that require minimal effort to install has ultimately contributed to breaking our attention spans. Once you find yourself staring at a list of over 100 games and not knowing what to play, you can start to grasp the unfortunate facts. Specifically, even though you have saved money on every game there, the fact that most stay uninstalled and un-played means that you may never have the ambition to truly overcome the “list” you have created for yourself.

Access to games is becoming more affordable and that isn’t a bad thing. Not every gamer is sitting on hundreds of unplayed games, and there are many who are loving the fact that you can get a hold AAA titles not long after their release for relatively cheap. It does start becoming a problem however when you go from innocently buying Skyrim for five dollars, and end up owning every Valve game ever made.

Whether you are a casual or veteran gamer, there are two sure-fire thing you can do to save yourself from buying into “list” oblivion: buy smart, and prioritize.