Let’s Worry About The Games We Already Have

Let’s Worry About The Games We Already Have

When I was a kid, my parents bought me a copy of Final Fantasy Legend II. This was OK for a while. It was a fun game. Then I found out there was a sequel.

“There’s a Final Fantasy Legend THREE?” I said to my mum, screaming. “WHY DON’T I HAVE IT?”

Things haven’t changed all that much. I am driven, as I imagine you are driven, by a powerful, ever-consuming desire for The Next Big Thing. There’s some chunk of our brain, some lizardy chromosome that encourages us to read Kotaku and browse screenshots and watch trailers as we greedily anticipate all the great-looking video games that aren’t yet out.

If you’re anything like me, all it takes is a couple of minutes of gametime for the apathy to hit. Oh, what’s this? The next Final Fantasy? Another Dragon Quest? OK. What’s next? Before we’ve even played for half an hour, we’re ready for more.

The other day, Nintendo sent over a copy of Paper Mario: Sticker Star (which I’ll be covering and reviewing over the next few weeks). This is a game I’d been anticipating for close to a year now. I saw a hands-off presentation at E3. I played a demo at PAX. I couldn’t wait to dig into it.

Around the same time, I read Jeremy Parish’s great preview of Bravely Default: Flying Fairy, a game that Square Enix really needs to announce for U.S. release already.

“For [Final Fantasy: 4 Heroes of Light‘s] spiritual sequel, Square has pushed the design sensibility forward by about a decade, tying together the feel of Final Fantasy IX (a whimsical-looking fantasy underscored by disaster and tragedy), the visuals of SaGa Frontier 2 (beautiful hand-drawn backdrops, these deftly combine 2D and 3D elements to create a stunning, immersive look), the Job mechanics of Final Fantasy V, and a somewhat old-school turn-based battle system that expands on some of 4 Heroes‘ concepts without being as hands-off or punishing about it. Parish wrote. “Despite its name, Bravely Default really is the sort of Final Fantasy experience gamers have been clamouring for.”

Bravely DefaultFinal FantasyPersona 4 Golden
Ni no Kuni

See what I mean? I often wonder if our ability to enjoy entertainment is hampered by the constant buzzing in our brains about what’s coming next. And I often worry that being excited about a game I don’t have yet is more fun than playing something I do.

Granted, working for Kotaku gives me far more exposure to exciting new video games than your average gamer. Not only do I read and experience everything there is to read and experience about what’s coming out in the near future, I tell other people all about them. And I play a role in encouraging peoples’ fixations on the new. But even before I started keeping up on the 24/7 cycle of video game news, I was always addicted to anticipation.

The other day, a friend of mine e-mailed me with a link to a Google document. On it he had written his entire backlog of video games. Games that he had purchased, but never played, from L.A. Noire to The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks. The title of the document: “A personal neverending hell.”

My first reaction was not to empathise, but to wonder how much worse my version would be.

Maybe you’ve got something similar. A Steam library full of games you’ve bought and forgotten, purchased during cheap summer sales and immediately left to collect digital dust. Or a stack of discs next to your television with a note next to them: “To Play!” As if you ever will.

Or maybe it’s Amazon. I bought Star Ocean: The Last Hope on Amazon yesterday when it was on sale for eight bucks. The Last Hope is generally reviled by RPG fans as a mediocre game and horrific abuse of the Star Ocean title. But come on. Eight bucks! Will I ever open it? Who knows. I just couldn’t resist the call. An RPG I haven’t played yet. Super cheap. Brand new.

Even with these backlogs, these shelves full of discs and harddrives full of games we know we’ll never have time to play, we still continue to look to the future. We’re searching for something. Chasing something. Like heroin addicts hunting for black tar to shoot into their veins, we are constantly looking to get our fix. And we’re never satiated.

Not to get all depressing on you, but how many times have you purchased a new game only to find that it has lost your interest, that something bigger and better is on the horizon? How many games in your library have you finished? How many times have you stopped playing a game after just a few hours because some tantalising new siren is chanting for you?

So let this be a call to you. To me. To anyone who feels like they’re constantly looking to the future for new things to experience. Let’s take more time to appreciate what we have. Let’s look through our backlogs, pour over our shelves. Let’s spend a little less time in the future. Let’s spend a little bit more time in the present.

Random Encounters is a weekly column dedicated to all things JRPG.


  • Yeah these days I get bored of games relatively quickly. This would indicate to me that I am over gaming and perhaps I should take a break. But no I still keep coming back and getting excited about some new game just to get bored not long after. Sigh addiction perhaps?

  • I know the feeling. I used to love 50hr+ games, but now I have so much disposable income I can buy a new game every week. I still appreciate long games here and there but I mostly stick to 10-12hr games when I can, because there’s always something coming out soon that I want to play.

  • A few months ago I was fairly focused on finishing a few games, finished DQ4-5, Etrian Odyssey, and was attempting to finish Resonance of Fate, now however dont seem to be able to focus on any one thing for long enough to get it done, far to many things coming out to quickly.

    • Every couple of months, i will sit down and force myself to finish 5 games a month, usually they are ones i’ve almost finished, or got bored half way through, usually 5 a month is pretty good.
      My steam list is slowly… very very slowly becoming an accomplishment list.

      Keep in mind when i say 5 games, i usually throw 1-2 Indie games in there to keep me from AAA overload, which reminds me, have to finish sleeping dogs, and deadlight.

  • I’m kind of obsessed with the idea of finishing games (remember when people used to call it ‘clocking’?) so i always finish my games irregardless of how much im enjoying it

    • Haha! I have a friend who doesn’t play games but will always ask if I ‘clocked’ that last one I was playing. It always throws me off guard, because I would say ‘finished’.

  • I sometimes I get this. I dropped everything when metal gear comes out.
    And right now I don’t know if I should continue playing my second play through of disonhored or trade it towards a wii u.

  • I don’t see why people are so hard on Star Ocean 4. It wasn’t that bad. Although, that may be because I haven’t played any of the others.

    On less of a tangent, I’ve figured out my impulsiveness with games comes from growing up in a time where titles would disappear before I had a chance to purchase them. Being a physical media, it meant they would stop printing or stop being distributed at some point and I would miss out because my finances were limited. (Pocket money only goes so far!)

    So, when I grew up and became an adult, that same sense of urgency remained and I pounce on games that interest me lest they disappear before I am ready to play them. In this digital age though, games hang around indefinitely a lot more so I’m starting to relax and enjoy what I have. Steam sales are still the bane of my existence though.

    • It wasn’t the game so much (though EDGE MAVERICK is possibly the most offensively stupid JRPG protagonist in years, possibly in the history of the genre) it was the horribly bad English dub.

    • I’m the same as GerminalConsequence; I buy more games than I have time to play because I can’t help but think that if I don’t buy them now, I won’t be able to find them later when I do have time. Even now I’m still hunting down games for the PS2 that I wish I had bought back when they were released (though the likely hood of playing them any time soon is even less than it is for all my PS3 and 360 games).
      Also, on top of all that, I may have some slight hoarding tendencies. 😀 I never get rid of a game – ever. 😀

  • i swear, i cant tell if because i’m older i’m not getting into games as much OR game quality was just better as a child

    • It has to be the earlier. It’s practically impossible that we as a species were only capable of making a certain quality of anything in only one period of time.

  • I’ve always been a gamer, but for much of my life I’ve had a limited gaming collection. I’ve never felt that full price games offer value and i’ve always stuck with bargain bin games. Or piracy.

    With the PS1 I had access to a handful of pirate games, and I purchased just a handful of full price game as I recall. The rest of the time I played discounted games and demo disk games, and although I was jolly interested in gaming I wouldn’t say that I was obsessed.

    With the PS2, and the Wii, I had piracy from day 1 and with access to the internet I was able to have access to as many games as I chose, but I only found lasting enjoyment with a handful of PS2 games and even less than that on the Wii.

    With the PS3 I’ve not had nor wanted, any pirate games and I’ve bought literally 100s of games this generation – i’ve really out done myself. Last year, primarily with the help of JB Hifis 3 for 1 deal, I’ve been able to scratch my gaming itch by purchasing. playing and subsequently trading in (at cost value) more than a dozen games on day 1 of their release. This enabled me to sample games right at the point that I was most excited for them, which is something that I’d never been able to do before, or certainly never been able to do legally before.

    Now that i’ve gone through that experience of playing multiple games upon their release I no longer feel the need to do that, and I can now return to my habit of purchasing games once they’ve dropped in cost, without the feeling of longingness and deprivation that I previously held.

    What I’ve found is that the gaming media is incredibly adept at stoking the fires of interest amongst gamers. The journalists get excited, and write, blog, podcast about how ground breaking a game is, how genre defining it is and how much we owe it to ourselves to buy on day 1, but the reality is the game will be just as good on day 2, and just as good once it drops 80% of its cost in 9 months time. In actual fact it’s quite likely that the game will not be at its best on Day 1.

    I’ve still got a very big PS3 collection although it is reducing as I’m gradually playing through games and then trading them or selling them on ebay. I’m still purchasing the odd game but only if it’s a bargain price. I purchased GT5 for $12, but I even had to justify that as I have approx 20 racing games and I’ve not played any extensively as yet.

    And it’s becoming harder and harder to justify making new purchases when PS+ is giving us last years best games for free.

    There’s no way I’ll be purchasing AC3 when I own AC1 and 2, and could pick up AC Brotherhood for $20. Why buy GTA 5 when GTA 4 is still largely untouched. Better to start Far Cry 2 before purchasing Far Cry 3 – even if it will be a non related story / setting and a superior game.

    So yeah I have a pile of shame, but I’m not really ashamed about it. It’s simply a product of succumbing to gaming hysteria and lack of time.

    I can now accept that I don’t need to buy a game just because I’ll like it.

    • Awesome comment 🙂

      For me there’s the ‘must-haves’ which are day 1 MUST GET THE GAME ASAP type of games, and then there’s games which I know I’m better off waiting for to drop in price. Nowadays it’s pretty easy to tell which games are going to drop and when and I’m not only saving money by waiting, but time.

      But then… sometimes games just drop to my target price much quicker than expected and I buy them anyway… Also Steam sales :/

      Video Ezy had 20% off their games. I was waiting for a price drop on XCOM and Dishonored but were able to get both for around $28 each. I wasn’t so sure about FC3 or AC3 and was willing to wait but $25 for each at launch was too good to pass up. I also ordered more things I was planning on waiting on 😛

      Sometimes it’s hard to avoid spoilers when a new big release drops though 🙁

      • Yeah I’ve tried to only buy games for $20 or less, but then get excited when a relatively new game falls to $40, only to then be frustrated when it eventually does fall to $20.

        I have multiple sealed games, never touched, some of which were bought on Day 1, some when they experienced an initial price drop, that can now be bought for $20 or so. Even worse, the “Game of the Year” editions with added content can be bought for $20 or so. I feel disapointed that I paid $70 for Dirt 3, a great game, but it can now be bought for $20 and come with additional content. I feel ripped off actually. I paid more than 3 times the amount and I get less content. Why are gamers happy with that? If I had the spare time to play it alot perhaps I wouldnt feel hard done by but as an adult gamer, with a job etc it’s hard to find time to play.

        Buying games full price just becomes a frustration. I personally would say that it’s justified for games that offer immense value – those games that you will play online endlessly. I would really like Black Ops 2 – that does seem to be a genre leading game, and I’ve enjoyed most CoDs this generation, but I just have to resign myself to not getting it. I cant justify the cost of a full price game. I’ve barely touched multiplayer of the CoDs, or several other leading FPSs, that I do own. I would like it a lot, but will it be a massive improvement over other games I already own? Probably not. It will likely have excellent multiplayer, but will I have the time to enjoy it. No.

        Another relevant point is that the Call of Duty franchise seems to be very much alone in being largely immune to the price dropping syndrome, although that does appear to be weakening.

        • Yeah, even at launch the CoD games are relatively expensive. First party Nintendo games take a while to drop too, especially Pokemon (HG/SS are STILL around $40ish).

          I also find myself less likely to play multiplayer driven games like CoD or MMOs since most of them are technically “never ending”. I’d rather just spend my time completing other games than play the same sort of thing over and over again for better loot, ranks etc. – that’s not to say I don’t enjoy them though but I’d rather a different experience.

          I forgot about the whole GOTY thing. There’s also games where I just know one is coming out so I try to wait for the “GOTY/Complete/Gold/Ultimate etc.” edition with all the DLC. At the moment I’m still waiting for some sort of Mass Effect Trilogy edition and although one was just announced it doesn’t include the DLC!

          Season passes make this a bit easier though as they usually offer a discount on the DLC as a whole rather than individually but there’s still some cases where it’s cheaper to just re-buy a GOTY edition compared to one piece of DLC. I wanted to wait for a Borderlands GOTY edition even before any DLC was announced but I couldn’t resist and purchased it anyway. I missed out on all the DLC on console but it was so much cheaper to just re-buy the damn thing on PC during Steam sales.

          Sort of had a similar situation with Borderlands 2 but it was the kind of “GET AS SOON AS POSSIBLE” kind of game for me. Luckily it was only $40 on PC and the season pass was $16. Pricing error ftw! I can’t believe I was tempted to get it on Xbox for the standard $70-90 price range only to re-buy the GOTY edition on PC later. Stupid, stupid me!

  • Like drugs, the more you have the more you need to get the same rush. Play enough and stimulate yourself with a constant barrage of trailers over ‘what’s next’, and what you get is unmitigated desensitisation. Play a little less, chill out a bit more. You might actually rediscover the enjoyment of it all.

  • This is me as well. But I have since vowed not to purchase any new games until I have completed at least 3 games I have already purchased. Which is an easy promise as there’s nothing I want until Black Ops 2.
    My Steam library contains 40 games, of which about only 4 I have actually finished. So this weekend, I started back with Bioshock and FEAR. I forgot how much fun these games are!

  • I don’t buy as many games anymore.

    Find myself going back to older games much more now. Achievements and trophies have screwed me up though.

    I’ve beaten almost every game I own, but achievements and trophies keep me going back to try and get them all. God damn it.

  • I think my pile of shame is linked to my need for achievements. I have found that since I’ve stopped chasing those little boasts obsessively I’m buy less and enjoying more. All my games now are bought cheap and usually substantially after release (and just as importantly lots of reviews). I still get excited about playing through the latest and greatest I just find I can control my expectations a lot more now.

  • A lot of games I buy to play day one, for fear of if I take too long, spoilers will be everywhere.

    I took too long to play GTA IV, and had an important story moment ruined. Red Dead Redemption, the same, along with countless others. Even if it’s a silly story, in a silly game where the story doesn’t matter, I still want to hear it.

    I wanted to find out what Handsome Jack was up to.
    I wanted to see Chris and Weskers big showdown.
    I wanted to find out why I was in Rapture.
    I wanted to see if Master Cheif could finish the fight.
    I wanted to see how humanity faired against the locust.
    I wanted to see Commander Shepards adventure through.

    Some of these I got to enjoy as intended. Others were spoiled and lost quite a lot of their impact, just because I didn’t buy and play straight away.

    • Yeah spoilers are evil. It sounds like you’d benefit from reducing the amount of gaming media you watch, read, listen to.

      I’ve heard spoilers about games before, but then I forget about them.

      I think some games this generation have had really good stories, but I think that most are still trash. I get into the mood of a games story but just don’t have the interest level to pay attention to any nuances.

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