The curse of the gaming backlog


Chances are if you’re reading this article you are an avid and active gamer but take a second and think, how many games do you own?

Now you have a rough figure, think some more…how many of those games have you seen the end of?

If those two numbers are not the same i’m afraid you have fallen into the trap that all gamer’s do; you have accumulated a gaming backlog. However fear not for you are not alone! According to Valve 37% of games bought on steam have NEVER been loaded let alone completed.

The gaming backlog is a problem that affects all gamer’s at one stage or another; I have a gaming backlog of roughly 40 games on various platforms, 10 of these are role-playing games that take upwards of 20 hours each to complete. 200 hours of game play to clear 1/4 of my gaming backlog or 8.3 days if i forego sleep, work and life. I know how i accumulated these games (the internet, steam sales and drunken excursions to eBay) but i want to know why we create these gaming backlogs. I play a lot of games yet i find myself with a problem that will take at least a year to clear, assuming I don’t buy another game this year.

 I love playing games, and I love the satisfaction of seeing the final credits; so why do I have 40 waiting to be defeated? Why do we all?

In 2014 i made a resolution to NOT buy any new games until I cleared my backlog;  Needless to say this resolution did not last, i’ve bought a Vita and a handful of games; i’m also looking into the future and eyeing up titles like ‘Watch Dogs’ and ‘The Stomping Land’.

It was my backlog that inspired this blog; motivation to plunge into games sitting in my collection for well over 2 years in some cases. Why do I need motivation to pursue my hobby? At times I feel like a prisoner to it – and that is no way to feel about anything. I don’t want to play games merely to tick them off a ‘to play’ list. I want to play for enjoyment.

The number of times i’ve said to myself that i won’t buy game ‘x’ on release only to find myself a week later pre-ordering is staggering – this is how it is for me. My desire to play games that i’ll enjoy; the latest and greatest, getting caught up in the hype time after time pushes me to continue adding to my backlog. This is not the universal reason for backlogs of course everyone is different and circumstance is very much subjective.

Some of my friends have found life gets in the way, a few have started families and found their gaming time restricted, several have their time dominated by careers, a small number have found themselves falling out of love with gaming, while others are currently obsessing over a title (MMOs and online shooters mostly).

We all have games that we find ourselves going back to (Rock band and FIFA for me) and eat into our gaming time…there are times when I decide to play a game I haven’t completed only to be overwhelmed by sheer numbers then revert back to type and play FIFA; I cannot be alone in choice being a barrier.

I want to know what has caused your gaming backlog, are gaming backlogs a fact of life that we should just deal with?

And the biggest question of all, do gaming backlogs create a market of gamer’s who are afraid to buy new titles?

Or a subset of gamer’s who only buy games weeks or months after release, because they have been clearing a few titles from their backlogs?

Could the buying habits of these groups have a detrimental on the industry we love?

Essentially could backlogs cause a crash similar to the one in 1983?

Please leave any thoughts in the comment section below.


7 thoughts on “The curse of the gaming backlog

  1. Ah the next topic in the Talkback Challenge. I actually suggested this very one on the forum. I was planning to tackle it this week as well. I think backlogs are the result of games being more accessible (free to play titles along with constant sales — particularly on older titles) and many gamers being adults with expendable cash. I know when I was a kid I didn’t have much of a backlog. I only got new games when holidays came around, or I happened to save all year to get something new. Besides that, rentals were the way to go, but then you usually didn’t finish the game. Being an adult with expendable cash, I buy anything that has remotely interested me that’s on sale with the intentions of trying it out, and then adding it to the backlog. The only games that enter my collection and are instantly at the forefront are ones that are stellar additions. Some games just grab you, others are complete wastes of time.

    The industry isn’t going anywhere. Having a backlog won’t affect it, because the companies are still getting their money regardless of you finishing a game or not. People might try and say they won’t buy more games until they finish the ones they have, but you said yourself, those types of ideas don’t last long. With the millions of gamers out there, I don’t think any bit of the industry is hurting one bit.

    I took it upon myself to put a poll on my blog to help me pick which game to focus on next, and so far that method has helped me to at least partially focus on finishing one game. After that’s done, I’ll probably put up another poll. Sometimes knowing that many of your peers enjoyed a game is enough to motivate you to dive into it.


  2. I agree completely, I think there’s a multitude of factors, the ones you have outlined like accessibility of games, the rise of online venders selling games at ludicrously cheap prices and the fact that gamers are getting older.

    Like you I remember getting games as a kid on my birthday and christmas that was it! Maybe three games a year – and they we’re crazy expensive, I remember my mum buying me and brother street fighter 2 on the genesis for £70!

    I like the idea of getting readers to pick my next game! I may shamelessly steal that idea lol! Thanks for the comment though it was very detailed and has given me plenty to think about!


  3. Reblogged this on 7 Days a Week and commented:
    I use the comment I made in JVT Workshop as im lazy:
    Right on spot! I have been thinking a lot about this lately as I see my guild friends jump from game to game in an endless loop. The more they jump the less satisfied they seem to get and it gets harder and harder to get that “fix” from a game.

    So I stay in The Rift. I got ESO as Bday gift and that was an eye opener. I realise there was no point in playing it until i felt “finished” with The Rift and im far from. So far I have only played these 2 game and I will try to avoid becoming a “game jumper”. GW2 had a 50% sale some weeks ago and I was tempted. But after the ESO issue I realised i wont have time as I want to play Rift so I never bought it. And Im glad! As u say even if it was sale its still a loss if i never play it. Im a bit addicted to my guild so I guess Ill follow the stream. If the majority change to another game i can live with, fine.
    How about your backlog? :):)


  4. Ettesiun says:

    There is two different things for me : the not finished games, and the not started games.

    For the non-finished games : I have never finished any games (exception are : Starcraft, Portal and… Max Payne ? Not sure). Why ? Because what would make me finish a game, is the story. Nad the stories are never good enough. The rare that are interesting are too stretched, with less content in 20hrs than in a 2 hour film. Thus without story to motivate me, – and I am not an “achiever” thus I do not take pleasure from finishing someting- I only play games for the fun of it. Thus two possibilites : either the fun of the game last longer than the story, and I see the end of the story, or not, and the game will stay unfinished.

    My backlog of not started games is a bit different : two things create it : I discover Steam and its sales at the same time I started to have incomes, and after a 5 five years stop of gaming. Thus I had the desire to discover a lot of games, with the revenue to buy them, and with the added good news of discovering low price games.


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