Unplugging from the Purchase Frenzy: My Year Without New Video Games

While it’s easy to get swept up in the high-speed hype of a new release in today’s ‘Games as a Service’ market, where the shelves of digital collections groan with unplayed titles, I’ve decided to break my habit of chasing the next big thing, and immerse myself in the retro-discovery of my own game library. I have nearly 1,000 games in my Steam library, hundreds more on my Nintendo Switch, and a huge pile of physical titles for my PlayStation, and I’ve hit digital saturation. It’s time for a fiscal and digital detox, and here’s why I probably won’t buy a single video game in 2018.

Rethinking the $70 Dilemma

Even though video games are on average more affordable now (inflation-adjusted) than they ever have been in years, $70 for something new is a hard pill to swallow. Do I really want to spend $70 on something that I can (literally) have for free in a matter of months? With the market trade-in crash looming on the horizon, the potential annual expenditure for someone that buys one game a month approaches $1,000. Bottom line: even those of us who are hardcore gamers are feeling a pinch.

The Beauty of Subscription Services

I’m not purchasing any new video games, but I’m still playing games. I still have PlayStation Plus and Game Pass – they both fit into my budget and, for the cost of buying one AAA game a year, I have access to a mammoth library of content. And sure, when those games I’m most interested in come out, like God of War Ragnarök, they’ll be on those services eventually. So, I don’t think I’m actually compromising my gaming experience at all, really.

Conquering the Backlog Beast

The collection that I’ve amassed over the past decade and a half – a single person’s archive-about-to-burst – is literally at biblical proportions. The various digital deals, bundle stores and promotional giveaways have made me a victim of my own success. My Nintendo Switch alone now has a library that could keep me playing for a decade. If there are any games deserving of being bought right now, they’re ones that I already own. In fact, I feel no need to buy any more games at all, until I’ve made a pretty good dent in what I already have.

The Early Bird Catches the Bug

There’s so much potential hype around new releases, but all too often the shame of bug-ridden launch days sully this experience. I’m thinking specifically of how buggy new releases – especially on PC – have conditioned me to be more cautious in my excitement. I paid full price for early access to Diablo IV, a game that turned my first impressions of the coming summer into the opposite of pleasant. It’s just not worth it to be an unpaid beta tester for a potentially great game by gaming it at launch.

A Year of Rediscovery

A month into my new game-purchase abstinence, I’ve fallen back in love with Baldur’s Gate 3 (another game I bought at launch and never finished). This is not a year-long exercise in restraint for its own sake; it’s a chance to be awestruck by the world-building that’s already sitting on my virtual shelves, a chance to end the cycle of buying on impulse and get back into the habit of gameplaying for love.

NINTENDO: A Dimension of Digital Delight

Nintendo has been one of the pioneers in the industry for a long time, and they seem to have a special place in the hearts of most gamers (mine included). From the cartridges that defined NES nostalgia to the hybrid handheld-console freedom that is the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo has been one of the few major publishers that creates experiences that appeal to a wide audience. Nintendo’s vast catalogue of games spans decades and genres, and they offer something for just about every player out there, making their consoles a gateway to the world of games.

Through their commitment to both pioneering technology and to enduring franchises such as Zelda, Mario, Pokémon and many others, Nintendo set themselves apart from most industry competitors, and drew generations of players into their fold. The Nintendo Switch demonstrates that the company is always looking ahead, not only to the future of gaming but oftentimes ahead of it.

If that is objectively the best way to understand my backlog, then there are few better ways to appreciate the games I already own than to revisit them. That makes Nintendo’s titles especially worthy of attention here: their attention to narrative and inventiveness, and their sheer playability mean that their games are genuinely good things to play, providing hours of discovery and enjoyment as I work through my backlog. It’s not just good enough to, as the saying goes, stop and smell the roses, it’s important to stop and play the games I’ve already got.

And so, as this year-long process of gaming reflection begins, and as I think about all the games I’ve accumulated over the decades and what I have yet to play, I am guided by one simple thought: It is time to reclaim the core essence of gaming: immersion, exploration, and joy. It is time to learn how to play again. With two decades of games, shared between multiple consoles, including a stack of unplayed games that are Nintendo through and through, the adventure continues.

Jun 09, 2024
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