Sunday, 1 February 2015

Steam Backlog: A New Year's High Resolution

The first month of the new year is over. How has your 2015 been so far? Did you already break three of your five New Year's resolutions and the other two are dangerously close? Or are you the kind of person, who doesn't give a damn about New Year's resolutions? As for me, I am probably such a person. But this year, I decided to try some anyway.

Actually, it's quite a coincidence that this came up after New Year's Eve. It was much more the combination of both a cold realisation and New Year's Eve. The reason I am sharing this with you is, I believe, I am by far not alone with this kind of "problem". And that problem is called...

The Steam Backlog...

Remember all those sales? There were games, you saw for -75% that were on your wishlist, even though you had no idea when exactly you added them, but just buying them now would erase them from your wishlist and you would feel good about it. And, all of a sudden, your Steam library has grown to an  uncontrollable beast, while you ask yourself where it all went wrong.

Don't bother telling me, this is far less than it would take you!
Source: Steamleft

For me, the realisation came, when I saw my Steam library passing the 400 games mark. (yeah, I know, for many of you, that's less than half of what you own on Steam!) However, the number of games, I finished last year, was considerably small. Furthermore, I had read an article of a developer, I don't want to mention here (except, they wish for it), who wrote about the customer getting worthless to the developer, because of sales. They buy games for a dollar, but never play them and when they do, they will complain about stuff, they are not able to fix themselves.

Suddenly, it all felt wrong. "I am different! I have a good taste in games and don't buy every little thing I see and find interesting!" These were the thoughts, I calmed myself with, when I was buying yet another indie, classic or relatively new AAA-title in a Steam Sale. In reality, however, I didn't seem to be any different than those other people. And then there was this one experience two years ago, I'd like to share with you: My purchase of Thomas Was Alone.

That game had been on my wishlist for some time already, when I saw it was -50% during a sale. "Well, I can wait, maybe I'll get it for -75%! I'll just wait until the last day of the sale, and if it's still just -50%, I'll buy it then!" So the next days, I watched some Let's Plays (which I normally never do) of the first levels, reviews, quicklooks and read articles. In the end, I got pretty excited at finally playing the game myself. Heck, I even dreamed about it. Finally, the last day of the sale came and I wanted to check, if maybe today, the magical -75% might be on and... the sale was over all along. It seemed that I had missed the deadline by a day and Thomas was back at its regular price. My world broke apart. I was so eager to play it and the sale brought the opportunity to me right there and all of a sudden I had to wait for another sale? Why?

"Or, maybe", I thought,"I can just buy it full price...?" And that is what I did. For the first time in... I dare to say ever, I bought a game in the Steam store for its full price. And it felt good. I installed it right away and after that, I played through it the same evening. Maybe the game, quality wise, wasn't worth my personal mini-hype, but the feeling of suddenly playing a game, that seemed to have value was fascinating. I still don't regret that purchase.

Now, all of the above led me to think of a little system that would bring back some value into my backlog. The problem with sales, in my opinion, is that you buy a lot of games, you potentially like, but probably never play, because you don't value them enough. Even though, (some of) these games might be great, or another "favourite game" might even be hidden away there from you, there is no practical reason to lay a finger on those. Except maybe, a lucky steamroulette roll.

Here is a very short version of how my system is supposed to work:
  • Beating a game will get me one Steam Token
  • Buying a new game requires five Steam Tokens
That way, both the games in my library as well as the new ones, I am going to buy, increase in value. There are exceptions, however, which include:
  • A game that I have been looking forward to for a very long time is coming out
  • I find out about an already released game, that catches my attention too much to be ignored 
If I buy a game under these circumstances, no token will be taken away from me. However, I must buy those at their release date, for the full price, or both to not have it affect my tokens. That way, value is pretty much guaranteed. Also, purchases from the Humble Store or any other way to get Steam keys is included in that system.

So far so good. I'm still at the very beginning of this system and I have beaten two games since. (Only games, that were finished after introducing this system count as tokens!) Those were NaissanceE and Hotline Miami. Now I am going for Cave Story+. I get the feeling of finally "allowing" myself to enjoy the games I have, again, and this is a good thing. I expect to find more loopholes in this system as the year goes on, but I definitely try to stick to it as long as possible. A flaw included is, that I don't have any kind of punishment, when I fail to meet my requirements. Also, I am the only instance to control myself.

Nevertheless, this is my attempt to bring back some value into my Steam games, and catching up - at least a tiny little bit - on my backlog. Wish me luck!

Have a similar system yourself? Wanna join in? Think, this is just a big pile of useless bullshit? Let me know in the comments.