Daily Reaction: The Backlog Problem

May 7, 2015 Written by Chandler Wood

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One of the biggest issues we have as gamers, besides the obvious limitations of funds to acquire all of the great games, is having to time to play said games. As the industry keeps releasing must-have titles, many of us keep picking up more and more things we can’t possibly run through. Today, Daily Reaction is diving into a gamer’s worst nightmare: The backlog.

Chandler: Every time a new game is announced I jump for joy, and yet I die a little bit inside. Will this be one of those games that I never get around to playing? When it releases will it take a place of priority, or will it sit on the shelf of shame, waiting for that sliver of free time that I may have somewhere in between higher priority titles, reviews, work, and day-to-day life? From what I understand, I game far more than the average gamer, in what amounts to about a full time job’s worth of of hours each week. And yet, I still find myself with an ever amassing backlog, gazing at titles that I know I will never play or finish.

One of my problems is a personal problem. I’m a trophy hunter, so I actively seek to go back to games for Platinums and to try to get the most value out of each game I play. Sure, I have over 125 Platinums, but has replaying games and beating my head against the wall for hours on challenging or time consuming trophies been worth possibly not playing other games? That’s where the personal value of such things has to come into play, but inevitably, challenging myself with these tasks has led to some games hitting that backburner. That’s my own fault, and I accept it, even as I lament every game that I am not able to play.

PlayStation Plus, while offering a huge library of games with its subscription, has also been one of the biggest offenders of adding to the backlog. Most of the time, these games are not triaged as priorities, with bigger titles and reviews of new releases taking point, so I click the “add to library” button and forget about them. But the knowledge that these games are there, waiting for me, haunts my soul. I hardly want to look through the list of games because there are so many games that I’ve wanted to play for so long, but as time moves on, more and more games come out, and it becomes increasingly impossible to keep up without leaving something else behind.

There’s a light in the dark, however. The new console generation has helped to make the decision of what to play easier on me. I know that I am not likely to go back and play games on my PS3 much anymore. There are older games that I would love to still play, even ones that I actually own through sales or Plus (looking at you Mirror’s Edge and Buried at Sea Part 2). But the widening console generation gap has made it far easier to make the decision not to go back right now. Perhaps in time I’ll take a trip down memory lane and boot up the PS3 to see what I missed out on, but with so many new and lengthy games to play — and review season starting to hit hard — the chances of me going back anytime soon are slim.

Fortunately while it’s an issue and a nightmare, it’s also one of the greatest parts of gaming. We have so many things to pick from that we are actually finding it hard to have time to play everything we want to play. We are in an abundance of great titles, and knowing that I always have something else to play is a great thought. Sure, it sucks that I can’t play it all, but as long as I am prioritizing simply enjoying my gaming life, I see this more as an inconvenient blessing than a real problem.

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Dan: Thankfully I don’t have the same issue as Chandler, as I have a peasantly 16 Platinums to my name. But, instead of investing time hunting trophies, I usually spread out my time playing just about everything I can get my hands on. While the majority of my time is spent playing titles on PlayStation platforms, I also look at games across just about every platform, and see what is popular, or has potential. As for me, I simply enjoy having a breadth of experience and understanding of how the industry sways between trends throughout the year.

Sadly, what this means for me is that I rarely ever get to finish games on my own time, unless it is something that I genuinely must see to the end. As I accumulate more and more games, my backlog of titles that I would love to play through, or even see more than a few hours of grows by the week. As Chandler said, PlayStation Plus really does just add to the always growing pile of possible experiences, especially when they include something that I was just waiting on picking up.

Ever since I was a kid, the experience of playing a new game has always been something very meaningful to me. It never had to be something recently released, but something that I just obtained, so whenever I know there is something I want to play, but couldn’t at the moment, I try to wait until I am ready to pick it up. This also sadly means that going back through my existing backlog is almost always less appealing than playing through something new.

Recently, one of the biggest time hurdles I have found is the amount of online connectivity and need to stay current on some titles has had on my ability to work through as many games as I would like. Titles like Destiny and Borderlands offer a mixture of RPG mechanics, but also tie in the ability work with your friends online, which means to play something else is a missed opportunity to share an experience.

This new type of micro-ecosystem on console games is becoming a growing type of design made to keep players invested into a single experience for as long as possible. With the almost standardized usage of periodic DLC packs, and a leveling/grinding design, I think we are going to be seeing more and more people playing less and less games overall, as they keep with a single experience for a longer period.

Now this doesn’t mean that everyone will get stuck on a single title throughout the year, but with the growing expectations for a game to offer dozens of hours of content, it is completely possible that we will be seeing more people with games they simply cannot find the time to play through, just like us.

Have you had to make the hard choice to not play a game? How big is your backlog getting? Do you try to play every free Plus title? Give us a backlog of comments to read below, choose what tweets take priority on Twitter @Foolsjoker and @Finchstrife, and email us at DailyReaction@PlayStationLifeStyle.net to add your voice to our growing library. 

Make sure to catch-up on our previous Daily Reaction articles here.