Piling On: Four Hundred Games I’ll Never Finish, And Counting

Piling On: Four Hundred Games I’ll Never Finish, And Counting

Tuesday afternoon I got the Internet connected in my new home. From Wednesday morning until Thursday afternoon, my PlayStation 3 was downloading every free title due to me as a PlayStation Plus subscriber. Since I moved, that console has literally spent more time acquiring games than I will likely spend playing them, or any game on that console for at least the next month.

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine? Did I have any interest in that game before now? No. Lara

Croft and the Guardian of Light? I wasn’t even aware of that until it showed up. Sure, I’d been meaning to get around to inFamous 2, but Choplifter HD? Really? Why?

At least it’s easy to identify why I picked all of these up: They are free, and if I don’t download them, then some or all of the subscription I’m paying to Sony is being wasted.

But most of the others I have, especially those gathering dust on a shelf, don’t afford the same excuse. I cataloged every single video game I own — console and mobile, retail and downloadable, even including the free-to-play clients I have installed and the stupid poker simulators I bought for my iMac in 2007. The total? Four-hundred forty-seven.

Think about that for a second. That’s more than 400 video games. That includes titles like MLB Stickball and Red Dead Redemption. It applies to beloved, dog-eared titles like Borderlands and classics I never finished — but should have — like Grand Theft Auto III. It gives Canabalt equal weight to DC Universe Online, sure, but it also doesn’t account for a game that took hours from me — like L.A. Noire, or Bully or Mafia II — before I traded it in. Nor all of the sports video games I have played, from NCAA Football 2005 through countless obsolete versions of Madden NFL.

I seriously must wonder if having video games has become a greater priority than even playing them.

This isn’t like a music collection, in which you are practically assured of owning more content than you could possibly be expected to know in a firsthand, critical fashion. It’s more like a wall full of unfinished great books. The difference is, frankly, it’s easier to fake knowledge of the contents of a book, no matter how important the work, than a video game. Cliffs Notes and Wikipedia will give you what you need to know — the story, the characters, their motivations, etc, from Moby Dick to Anna Karenina. I can find all of that for the original Mass Effect. But if the controversy over that trilogy’s ending, and reconditioning, has shown us anything, it’s the necessity of actually playing through the game to speak to its outcomes with any sort of authority.

I’m never completing the entire Mass Effect trilogy, but I still have all of it. I still have Fallout New Vegas, which I swear I haven’t touched beyond speccing out my first character at 1 a.m. one night and then realising there would be no way I’d ever finish what I had started. I have Saint’s Row: The Third still in shrink-wrap, next to SSX and WWE ’12 I can go ahead and sell WWE ’12 now, I won’t finish a career in it before WWE ’13 arrives. And, hell, maybe not before WWE ’14 comes around.

This is where the Pile of Shame, which every gamer has and refers to in a self-deprecating manner, begins to anger me. Because it represents a waste of money — a game you’ll never play; or a waste of time — thousands of man-hours spent building something that only got a weekend rental’s worth of use, even if it was purchased.

In one sense, this is my occupational hazard because I’m required to have an inch-deep/mile-wide understanding of my subject. But unlike a film critic, I really do take my work home with me. I keep it. I put it on a shelf. I tell myself I will see all it has to offer. Some day. When I’m stranded on a desert island with a console and a TV and a power supply.

Hey folks, Something Negative is a rant. Love it or hate it, we all need to blow off steam on Fridays. Let yours out in the comments.


  • I think I need to get into the habit of buying one game at a time and finishing it before getting another one. Or just getting games I’m genuinely interested in and not just because they’re on sale.

    • Haha I tried getting one game at a time… Worke fr a while untill they released a few with in a week that I was keen on

  • Just trade them for new games you will never play. Not including downloadable games I only have New Vegas, Bully, Halo HD in my pile of shame. Including downloadable games probably 100+ xbla, psn, steam.

  • I have made a conscious effort not to buy anymore games til i finish those i have, playstation + subscription is the only game related expense i have atm and it feels good. Chalk it up to being an adult and not having as much freetime anymore. I will make an exception for skate 4 if it ever comes out and the Wii U. that has me excited.

    • I’m with you on that one. I only buy new games when I’m finished with the ones I have. The only exception I made recently was for Mass Effect 3. Kotaku and many other sites kept discussing the ending so much (seriously, at times it felt way too much) that I I had to go out and buy it right away lest I accidentally come across a spoiler.

      Books on the other hand…

  • I am a completionist so I do not really have a pile of shame. I hit the 100 mark a few months ago on boxed retail games for PS3/Xbox 360 and only 2 of those I have yet to finish. I don’t play XBLA or PSN very often so they are not a problem for me.

    A pile of games like that would irk me every time I looked at it. Might be time do something about it such as sell, trade or give them away.

  • I’ve had a great time sifting through my pile of shame playing each game again or for the first time racking up achievements. The pile of shame will always be there, nothing better than killing time trudging through it. Some notable pieces in my pile (all of these are still untouched/unopened) … SSX, Mass Effect 3, Saints Row 1, 2 & 3, Dead Space 1 & 2, LA Noire, Witcher 2 and Max Payne 3. Currently I am working my way through Skyrim: Dawnguard. I will get to my pile soon TM but also keep adding to it!

  • I’ve kind of gone a little crazy these days with all the sales popping up and letting me grab games I might have missed or want to get now while they are still available but I intend to play every single game I bought, no matter how long it takes.

  • I get through mine and quickly trade them in, usually don’t have more than 10 at a time. Some of mine I import from the UK, so I sell them on gumtree instead since EB won’t take them.

  • I never understood peoples addiction to always buying new games. Perhaps they get conned into the hype? Also, I NEVER buy brand new games anymore. After 4 months they are already almost half the price. Look at Max Payne 3, already down to $68, from $98.
    Solution? Stop buying games. Simple.

  • As a collector with a library measuring similar size, I can relate. My pile of shame was once counted at 140, no doubt it’s grown since then.

    I don’t buy games full price, and for most of the newer ones that I have interest in I’ll wait til they hit the sub-$30 bin before picking them up. But I still think “hey, this game was supposed to be pretty good! I should check that out!” and buy it. Even if I don’t get to it for months. If that.

    I wouldn’t necessarily say that having games is more a priority than playing them in this case, since I get through as much of my current games as I can. But it’s definitely true for the older platforms, where I know I won’t get to them for a long time, save for that initial play around when it first arrives.

    • Also I will clarify that those numbers are only a mention of physical retail titles. No digitally distributed ones come into play 😛

  • I just noticed earlier but the real shame here is organising your games alphabetically when they’re NOT by platform/console! Such madness!

    Best way IMO – is by platform, then alphabetically with the exceptions of sequels (Demon’s Souls before Dark Souls).

    Also I thought I had a lot of unplayed games but some of the folk here have pile of shames larger than my entire collection… Dayum!

    (I’ll be happy to help reduce your pile of shames and bear the burden :P)

    • I prefer to keep mine chronologically. Generally order of release, but really it’s order of purchase.

  • how are there even 50+ titles between the xbox/ps3 that people would even consider buying? this actually physically disgusts me.

  • How can it disgust you? You jealous?

    I’m closing in on 80 games purchased this year. I only buy games I’ll want to play.

  • I just reached 109 games between PS3 & 360 a few days ago, most are unfinished lol. I’ve become quite obsessed with buying games on sale at Playasia. I told myself I was going to stop for a few months once I reached 100 but I just keep seeing so many bargains that I refuse to pass em up! Most recently I picked up Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, Shadows of the Damned and Enslaved, dirt cheap.

    I just figure if you’ve got the money and gaming is your hobby, why not? I won’t be running out of things to play any time soon 😀

  • Ugh, I have a massive steam library of games I bought and never even downloaded. Out of the 200 games I probably play 5.

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