News Article

Talking Point: Is Time Gaming's Greatest Handicap?

Posted by Sammy Barker

Tick tock

Look at your game collection, and then back at this article. Hidden in that bad Old Spice parody is an opportunity for you to make an observation – how many titles do you have sealed, wrapped, or placed in a separate pile tagged with the imaginary label ‘backlog’? If you’re anything like us, you’d probably struggle to count the number on a large abacus. And that raises the question: are the ever animated hands of time gaming’s greatest handicap?

Regardless of lifestyle, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that there’s more content available than anyone could possibly ever have time to play. Gaming is not a minor investment; unless you’re diving in for swift sessions of Angry Birds during your coffee break, the chances are that you’ll be sitting down for at least a few hours with any of the titles that you choose to play. And more often than not, your investment will far exceed that.

To make matters worse, the games just seem to keep coming. The likes of DmC: Devil May Cry, Dead Space 3, Crysis 3, Tomb Raider, and God of War: Ascension have all garnered recommendations this year, and there’s still BioShock: Infinite right around the corner. And that’s if you’re just looking at the PlayStation 3’s line-up. Expand your horizons to competing platforms, and you’ll also find Gears of War: Judgment, Monster Hunter 3: Ultimate, LEGO City Undercover, and Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon all vying for your attention – not to mention the throngs of noteworthy indie hits available on Steam.

And then there are digital downloads, too. It’s becoming increasingly easy to amass a separate stack of shame deep within your hard drive, in addition to the physical one nestled on your shelf. Lower price points and easy accessibility – not to mention Sony’s own incredible PlayStation Plus service – are making it a doddle to hoard hundreds of hours of content that you may never get chance to play. With spare time at such a premium, is it even possible to experience everything anymore?

While it’s always been difficult to keep on top of new releases, the introduction of these innovative online marketplaces has really accentuated the issue. An average PlayStation Store update delivers no less than two or three new titles, and there have been occasions where the offering has slipped into double figures. This, on top of retail releases, means that there’s more content than ever before – and it can be difficult to decide where best to invest your time.

Recently, we published an article pondering the importance of review scores. In it, we asked whether media metrics should dictate your purchasing habits, and came to the conclusion that you should make up your own mind about what games to buy. But with so many titles out there, we can understand why the emphasis on reviews has become more pronounced. After all, it’s not merely about cost anymore, but also time. Why would you spend 10 hours with a game that scored middling reviews, when you could be playing through a game of the year candidate?

The quality of games seems to be higher than ever, too. Not one of the titles that we listed earlier in this article scored less than a 75 average on Metacritic, meaning that critics deemed all of the releases to be worth your time. When you consider that the list of titles tots up to about 200 hours of gameplay (if not more), it’s outrageous to think that anyone could ever get through them all.

So, why do we even try? Why do we amass these huge collections of content that sit on our shelves looking sorry – sometimes still in their shrink wrap? Perhaps it’s merely lapses in reason that prompt us to think that we can get through another ten to 15 hour campaign. Perhaps it’s greed, the desire for the next big thing that leads us to part with our cash. Or perhaps it’s just a lust for the industry, and a genuine desire to try a bit of everything that drives us to the checkout of our favourite game retailer over and over again. Irrespective of the cause, isn’t it time that we conceded to time, and stopped buying so many games?

Are you guilty of purchasing titles that you never play? How big is your backlog right now? Let us know in the comments section and poll below.

How big is your backlog right now? (46 votes)

I haven't got one at the moment


Between one and five games


Between six and ten games


I've got more than 11 titles to play


Please login to vote in this poll.

User Comments (26)



Splat said:

"How many titles do you have sealed, wrapped, or placed in a separate pile tagged with the imaginary label ‘backlog?"

Zero. I have never been able to stare at an unopened game for very long with out breaking down and playing it.

I guess my backlog is older games that I haven't got around to buying yet. I have got so used to waiting for price drops, that it just feels normal.



Squiggle55 said:

My backlog is overwhelming. There are very few games I haven't played at all yet, maybe only 1 or 2. Most of them I have played but haven't yet beaten. Across all formats my backlog is pushing 200 right now. PS+ certainly isn't doing me any favors in that department. I need to bite the bullet and swear off buying new games until I make a dent in the older ones.



UNC5052 said:

PS3 alone, my backlog is around 25 disc games, with many more games from Playstation Plus. I'm also building quite a large backlog for the Vita and 3DS. I still have many PS2, PSP, and DS games that I likely will never get through. Overall, this would be well over 100 games in my backlog.



ShogunRok said:

I started building up a bit of a backlog around this time last year, and there are still a few games I haven't finished. However, I have made it a point not to buy most games at launch anymore - I've started buying them when I've finished my previous game - so most of the time it works out quite well since they've dropped in price.



neumaus said:

I am so, so guilty >__>
I think I have close to 30 games on my backlog (though by "backlog," I mainly mean played them some but never finished them).
You can't blame me completely, though. I have ADHD and get bored of stuff fairly quickly. Not to mention I just love buying things.
Bad, bad combination



JayArr said:

This article hits home so hard. I have over 100 games unfinished and a nice stack of factory sealed games.

I just don't have enough time. I had a week off work over the holidays and literally played 85 hours worth of video games.



get2sammyb said:

The poll stats are already telling me what I suspected. I must admit, as I was writing this, I was asking myself: perhaps it's just me? Apparently not. I've also tried to stop buying/starting new games before I've finished old ones, but as a writer, I find that it's important for me to be as up to date on as much as possible.

Currently my backlog includes: Far Cry 3, Resident Evil 6, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, and Max Payne 3 (!!!). But it's my hard drive that's my biggest area of shame. Sometimes I look at it and gulp. There are so many games that I want to play, that I just haven't got around to yet. It's mental, really — I've paid for them, but I just know I'm never going to get around to them.



Stuffgamer1 said:

The polls ends at "more than 11?" It's cute how small your vision of my backlog is.

I put to you...this issue is why Backloggery exists in the first place. Its being a problem was an absolute given.




I must say, relieving myself of my PS3 and the attached backlog has been quite liberating. I had started picking up games that had passed me by, before long it was just too easy to grab very good games a couple or more years old for less than a tenner! So I'd just keep ebaying/cexing games I'd never played. Best laid plans to work through a lot of them were blown away by how much I ended up enjoying Black Ops 2 online.
I think a big part of it is the collecting aspect, love having a physical copy of a game!



SuperKMx said:

The ironic thing about this, is that this week's MCV (a UK "trade only" magazine) is complaining about the lack of titles on the horizon again and again and again. Their double-page article entitled "New IP Headlines Quiet Q2" goes on to list Defiance, Dead Island: Riptide, Star Trek, Injustice, Donkey Kong Country Returns 3DS, Metro: Last Light, GRID 2, Company of Heroes 2, The Last of Us, Animal Crossing New Leaf, Remember Me, and Lost Planet 3.

Apparently, 11 "must play" games in three months is "quiet" and something to complain about across multiple articles. They haven't even considered the high-quality XBLA, PSN, and WiiWare titles that are launching during that period, or anything that hits Steam that isn't also released at retail, or mobile titles of any fashion. The industry is expecting gamers to spend hundreds of pounds per quarter on gaming, not to mention thousands on hardware, peripherals, and accessories every time we reach the next generation, then wonders why a high percentage of "big-name" titles "flop" at retail.

We're heading for a crash if it goes on like this, in my opinion. We've never had it so good, but the industry can only support so many games before it becomes flooded - much like it did back in 1983.



Gemuarto said:

My backlog is zero =((( I like to beat or sell, or throw away one game before buying another. But I always have something to play in the car. Disgaea 3, Persona 4... I always play them or some weird japanese games on psp, when I don't have something big at the moment.



fishwilson said:

yeah my backlog pile is getting to kind of humongous sizes and growing, and its not getting better that I have started to replay games I already finished 10 to 15 years ago. Like the other day I played through the whole of FFIX and the game was almost completely new to me because of all the time that has passed. And I want to play at least the first three silent hill and resident evil games through again as it has been such a long time and then there are series where I want to play the latest game in the series, but also want to play all the games that came before first like the Star Ocean series and the Atelier series and I'm just halfway through Etrian Odyssey II and they are so great I want to finish all of them in order. And I recently played through Yakuza 1-4 so I am prepared for the next games in the series whenever it is they hit Europe. (And its good I do not try to platinum my games, cause there are lots and lots of stuff to do and I like to do stuff in games already as it is.)

Not to even begin on the remakes and re-issues and handheld and HD-versions of games I have already finished. Like ICO and Shadow of the Colossus and Metal Gear Solid; the Twin Snakes and Persona 4 Golden and Persona 3 which came in two versions on the PS2 (regular and FES) and then another one on the PSP with some different content, and the 3D remakes of FF III and IV on the DS. And Project Zero: Deep crimson Butterfly and on and on and on.

And then there are games like FF XII and Xenoblade Chronicles that you can just play forever (and Monster Hunter too I have heard). Thank God I'm not so hot on online gaming (yet) it would have been the end of me, have to wait till I get really old and have stopped working my day job or something.

And the fact is I really like to take my sweet time with a game, like actually really play with it, try out lots of stuff and just enjoy it, the sights the sound, the stories, the play mechanics and clever stuff that goes on. I don't want to play a game just to finish it so that I can start another game and that conflicts a lot with having so many games that I want to play and limited time.

Another thing is that if I really start on a game, investing more than a couple of hours on it, then that game have to be really really bad for me to not try to finish it and when I don't like to use faq's for games I haven't finished at least once....well it can take some time sometimes to get through.

And then there are games that are so good that you just have to play them more than once. And games that have different endings. And games where your different play style will make for a totally different game each time you play. And games that are short but super addictive.
And unlockables which you get only after you have finished the game at least once.

So with all the games piling up its important to remember that gaming is something you do because you really want to play and enjoy and not something you do just to finish another one of life's chores.

And the backlog is actually not only games but there are also movies, music, anime, manga, comics, books, tv shows......

And on that note I'll just wonder how it is to be a game reviewer knowing finishing games (and having deadlines) is part of your job?
Very good article btw. Its getting more and more clear that its time we need not money.



GraveLordXD said:

Lol reading some of these comments, I'm glad I'm not the only one with a huge backlog of games.
I keep telling myself not to buy anymore until I finish what I already have but I just can't do it



Zombie_Barioth said:

@KenB Thats exactly what baffles me about the usual complaints from people that their new console doesn't have enough games. I know for a fact that most people have a nice backlog or list of games they've been wanting to play, so why not take the chance to do so before another flood of new games arrives?

I try not to buy too many games at once since most of the games I don't get will more than likely drop in price by the time I get around to them. My main problem are old consoles since I keep snapping up game carts as I spot them.



get2sammyb said:

@fishwilson Obviously reviewing games is an enormous privilege, but there can be pressure to get things finished quickly. It depends on when we get sent the games behind the scenes. If we get it early, then there’s ample time to play it in an organic manner. But this isn’t always the case.

It’s a balance, because we wouldn’t ever cut corners on this site – but obviously you, as our readers, want to know if a game is any good around launch, or as close to it as possible.



InsertNameHere said:

My backlog consists of Ni no Kuni, DMC, Tomb Raider, MGR: Revengeance, Thieves in Time and Far Cry 3.



Hetsumani said:

Steam and PS+ are killing me, discount over discount, when I spot under $5 games with 75+ metascore I start hating having cards instead of cash.



Kor-Meteor said:

Steam and Gog sales have amassed me a PC collection, and normally don't play games on PC, but have 20 I need to work through. About a dozen 360 games, and about 25 PS3 games to work through (Wal-Mart had crazy good deals on PS3 games this past Christmas).



divinelite said:

last year when vita game is scarce i got no backlog, always finish a game, try to platz, sell them away.

but now... i got so many games, even i had to backup them to pc cause of scarce memory card space and i dont know when i will play them again.



Munkyknuts said:

I tend to wait for price reductions rather than buying a title on launch day so my back log is made up of PS+ titles and other digital downloads I tried when I 1st got them with the intention of having a real session on them when time allowed. Dark siders 2, quantum conundrum, wipeout 2048, mortal kombat and others are nestled away in my ps3 awaiting my attention. Not to mention all the mini's I impulse bought. As you get older more responsibilities try and snatch away gaming time.....I still wonder how I managed to clock 186 hrs on sky rim, and now I have all the Dlc for it to try sometime, and all the amazing looking Dlc for Mass Effect 3. If someone could sort out the PS5 being able to jack straight into the brain to allow dream play whilst sleeping, it would be great.



Sanquine said:

Have to see about 20+ Games unopened and a couple of them on PS plus downloaded. Thats only on my PS3. With vita also 8 games ( Downloadable like Atelier ) playing GOW at the moment on ps3. Vita still playing P4G

My 3DS also has some games unopened ( MH for example)

My Xbox xD i am playing GOW judgement

Wii U MH ultimate



omgitsbounce said:

So many in my backlog that I've had to decided "I'm just never going to play that," or "This new release is great, but I can't justify spending $60 on it when I have 10+ other games to play."



charlesnarles said:

My trophy percentage total is a measly 12%, if that tells you how much I play the games I own. Being an adult with a gf is quite the time consumer!
PS Is this Sammy's job? lol jealous



Zetrayrus said:

Zero Backlog, I play every game I get as soon as I get it for some taste and then vary among all of them so that I wouldn't get too focused on one genre and start feeling that its stale.



meow0369 said:

@neumaus I'v got ADHD and I cannot find myself able to NOT play games i'v bought. Unless it's on steam... then I have >50

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