What Keeps You From Starting Games You Already Own?

What Keeps You From Starting Games You Already Own?
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I want to play Assassin’s Creed Origins, I really do. The other day, Kotaku‘s own Luke Plunkett told me that it takes inspiration from The Witcher 3, which is pretty much all you have to say to make me buy something and tear off the wrapping with my teeth. But then the other shoe dropped.

The first four or so hours, Luke said, are something you have to endure rather than wholeheartedly enjoy. They’re akin to the stale parts of older Assassin’s Creed games, rather than something fresh and witchery, he explained. I bought the game, but that tidbit from Luke has been kicking around in my head ever since.

Every time I go to click the “play” button on Steam, I hesitate. Then I black out briefly, and when I come to, Divinity: Original Sin 2 is somehow open on my PC. Is it ghosts? A hyper-specific and very dedicated prankster? Who knows! But since I’ve already beaten Original Sin 2, I know it will give me more than enough fun to make it worth my time, so I end up sticking with it.

This is hardly the first time I’ve procrastinated over a game I’m not 100 per cent sure about. Whether it’s because of a bunch of overly-long cinematics, complex mechanics I’m feeling too tired to learn, or a sloggy tutorial, I worry that the beginning of a game will feel like “work” when I’d rather have immediate fun. So I avoid the game in question for a while.

I’m sure I’ll get around to starting Assassin’s Creed Origins eventually — especially since Luke keeps telling me to play it — but I’ve gotta warm up to the idea first.

What causes you to put off starting games? Are you allergic to slow starts, like me, or are you intimidated by steep difficulty curves, open-world maps with too much Stuff on them, levels that everybody says are boring, or the looming specter of a crappy ending? Something else? Tell us in the comments.


  • This is going to sound lame but … long loading times or log-in processes. Just start the damn game already!

    • GTAV online. I get that mood. “Hey I wanna play GTA~”, then I sit for the first minute waiting for it to connect me on the load screen as it tries to find a session… then I’m like “naaah”, quit out and play something else.

      • I don’t know how anyone plays GTA Online. You spend more time in loading screens than you do playing the game.

    • Stole the words out of my mouth.

      I’d play and complete every game I own if it wasn’t for time, but as time exists, I have to very carefully pick and choose how I want to use that precious commodity.

  • Time. It’s harder to “get into” a game that requires me to devote a lot of time to get to the meat of the game.
    The “it takes a few hours to get good” is what kills me. Why waste what little time I have when I can play 30 minutes of Fortnite BR

    • So true!

      I probably only get about 4-5 hours of gaming on any normal work week. Max! (thank God for the switch so i play a lot more these days) I got 4 games for Christmas and started Xenoblade Chronicles 2 first….. you can be sure i wont touch the other 3 games for many many months.

  • Getting a bunch of them on sale… you can’t start them all at once! And then something comes out on console and I spend a month on the couch… which has the added bonus of being able to snuggle.

    • Yeah, this. Buying stuff when it is cheap. For me it’s worse since I buy mostly physical console versions, so when the games are really cheap and there is a risk that they will be out of stock + out of print, I will mostly cave in and buy. Not so much for the AAA games, but usually for the niche / Japanese / Vita games. With digital I know that sales are likely to be repeated eventually. I’m getting better at resisting those, and working on my backlog instead!

  • Time. Like others, its the time commitment I’m signing on for. I assume a game will entertain me for 20-40 hours minimum, and 100+ for the Big Games we buy in the millions.

    That’s not a small commitment, and the initial stretch through learning the game means committing a good 4-6 hours (or more) just to get the basics down. In the end, I play something I’m familiar with, and the Pile of Shame just gathers more dust.

  • Time really. I have so many games I’m yet to start across a multitude of systems. I’m a stay at home dad and my Son takes up 90% of my time from 6:30am to 8:00pm, and yet I still buy games on sale or on Steam that I know I’ll never get around to playing anytime soon. Still, he’s JUST about to start preschool, so hopefully soon I’ll be getting at least SOME of my daytime back.

  • My general reasons for balking at playing a game are either feeling like I need to be “In the right mood” or fear that maybe it won’t be as good as I thought it was. Generally mood is the biggest factor though and there are some games I don’t want to play in certain moods because it will affect how I perceive the game.

    Choice paralysis is also another factor and usually results in me just falling back to some default.

    • 100% I tend to just scroll through my games on PS4 and half the time I end up not playing anything.
      Other thing as a person who hasn’t played the originals, I feel like I need to go back and play them before I can start the new ones. Eg. Assassins creed. I know it’s irrational but it’s a completionist thing or something

  • The only thing stopping me from starting a game I already own is the other games I already own. I generally prioritise by “which game do I want to play most”, so some games have been pushed down the priority list by new games coming out.

    FWIW, I found Assassin’s Creed: Origins easier to get into than The Witcher 3.

    • If you don’t play Assassins Creed Origins for awhile and come back, you know exactly what you are doing.

      Good luck trying to find where you are up to in the Witcher. Even though I am on my second playthrough. Coming back and seeing my quest log and not remembering what stage of a storyline I am up to, puts me off and I end up walking away and saying “another time when I’m in the mood”.

  • What is preventing me from playing Forza 7 and new AC? Unplugging old Xbone and putting in the Scorpio. So, nothing more than pure unadulterated laziness.

  • friends and online gaming. I jump on my PS4 and within seconds I usually get an invite to play Fortnite, Overwatch or something of the like.

  • Short games: Heavily narrative-based short games (think Gone Home or Oxenfree) will often be put in my pile because I’m waiting for “the right time” to play them. My reasoning is that these are all once off, unique experiences. You can never play these games for the first time again, so make sure to play it when you’ll maximise your enjoyment.

    This isn’t true, not even a bit: I played What Remains of Edith Finch when I was really sick a couple of weeks ago and it was just as amazing as if I had waited till i was well rested and feeling great.

    Long Games: Especially if it’s an open world RPG, I know I have to be in the mood for that game to be the only game I play for a while. The amount of times I’ve put between 10-20 hours in a Skyrim or Fallout only to put it down for over six months and decide I have to start from the start when I pick it up again is enough to have finished those games a few times over. By this reasoning, I rarely start anything that will take more than 15 hours to complete.

    This isn’t true, not even a bit: Every time I do pick up a half finished game, I stumble around like a baby deer, but only for 15-30 minutes. Once I get my bearings, it’s like I never stopped playing. Plus a lot of huge games have clear act breaks, if I’m worried about gaming fatigue, I should work only to complete the game to a comfortable stopping point and vowing to come back instead of never touching the damn thing.

    Medium length games: These can vary, but it’s usually when I buy more than one game at a time. I spend 80% of the enthusiasm I had when buying those games on playing the first one and then the excitement I had when buying those games wane. So instead I buy a new game

    This isn’t true, not even a bit: Usually, this is when I’m time poor. I spend the money I have instead of the time I don’t. I can also reason to myself that I’ve just put money into a hobby, so I should find the time to “recoup” those costs. I don’t even need to explain why this is dumb, yet I do it constantly.

    • I’m the same in some respects with heavily narrative or some good short horror titles. I put them off until it’s the right time, but in the end who knows when that is.

      • Saving it for a rainy day. The problem is… those rainy days… I do something else anyway. The vicious cycle continues. Definitely something that I have only encountered with the past few years and my relationship with Steam Sales. Argh.

  • I had a weird change a few years ago where I tend to just want to play mindless games. I used to do lots of single player games but now just jump in for mindless multiplayer.

      • I wonder if it’s because mindless games are not a commitment. If I was sitting down to play a 12 hour campaign, I would feel like it’s a waste. But i’ll easily waste 50 hours playing a mindless game, but it’s always in small chunks and so you feel less guilt.

  • I actually bought & tried playing ACO immediately after finishing Horizon Zero Dawn recently, and it looked & felt cheap in comparison. I switched it off after the first hour… should I persevere?

  • Like others above, it’s time. With so many games wanting dozens / hundreds of hours, I’m just reluctant to start them because it means I’m committing the bulk of my gaming time for the next several months.

    Last year I played Horizon, Yakuza 0 and Divinity Original Sin. Between them (and the odd evening of BF1), that took up most of the year for me apart from squeezing in a few shorter things like Uncharted The Lost Legacy and Edith Finch. I don’t think it’s coincidence that, as much as I liked those long games, I enjoyed Uncharted and Edith Finch more.

    Right now I’ve got Persona 5 and XCOM 2 on my hard drive just waiting for me to start them, but I just haven’t been able to bring myself to do it.

  • World of Warcraft. (Or any other game with a big commitment)… its bhard to play allthe games when one game can take a hige time commitment to play an enjoy.

    Even when I drag myself from WoW I end up gravitating ti other huge games like Fallout 4, XCom 2, FTL etc. The time I spent playing 6 games on my favourite list could clear half the games I bought from Humble… but I wont.

  • As others have mentioned above: Time.
    It’s a weird dichotomy that I’ll thumb my nose at a shorter gameplay release at full price when it’s exactly what I need in my life at the moment.
    I have no issue paying full price for Witcher 3 or Fallout 4 (so much buyers regret with this one) and I know I’ll be lucky to get a solid 25-30 hours of interrupted gameplay in.
    @transientmind and @zambayoshi are also on the money – my pile of shame grows each sale season in the vain hope I can steal 2 hours here or an hour there to knock out some time with the newest purchase.
    I’m not complaining; I love my family and our kids are the greatest gift I could ever receive, but the author’s question does summon up waves of glorious gaming nostalgia of yesteryear when the trappings of adulthood seemed like a very distant thing.

    • I don’t buy very much at full price anymore simply because my pile of shame has so much on it, which is in part a symptom of how long it takes to get through so many games these days.

      I don’t see the point of paying full price on day 1 when it’s going to sit in the queue for 6 months before I get around to playing it. Between my buying it and my actually playing it, it will have gone on sale 2 or 3 times, so I might as well wait for the sale.

      I guess in a way they’re kind of shooting themselves in the foot with these huge games if the length is actually causing people to hold off on buying the next game until it’s on sale?

  • Not enough hours in the day. After the day job, there are too many things that I already have/want to do. Watch that series on Netflix. Throw something together in CAD to 3D print. Get said print going. Yard work. Work on post processing for current 3D print project. Play games that I’ve played before and want to go back to. Play the couple games that I’m already into.

    When it comes down to it, sometimes, there’s just too much else to do. I currently have Shadow Warrior 2, Stanley Parable, System Shock 2, An Elysian tale, and a couple others sitting, unplayed, on my desktop; a newly completed BoTW Master Sword replica on the kitchen counter/workbench; unassembled parts of a replica MP7 and Hellboy’s Good Samaritan on the other counter and next to the printer respectively; and I’ve started designing a pedestal stand for the sword in 3dsmax and Fusion 360, which I can do while watching Netflix. In between all that, I’ve been messing around in Mad Max and Black Ops 3 again. So much to do that starting a new game that I haven’t played before can feel like a gamble of time if I don’t end up enjoying it.

    I keep thinking I want to try Dark Souls in particular but don’t have to time for it.

    • All that said, the day the next Elder Scrolls comes out, everything else (aside from work) will take a back seat for at least the next two weeks.

    • You sound like me, I work a 48 to 60 hour week. I’m on a day off in the garage staring at a wood working project (a proper home for my 3d printer) I’ve got house work to do, or I could fire up cad and get some more designs going or my electronics projects, I just wanna relax and play a game but it doesn’t seem constructive with how much else I’ve gotten myself into.

      • EXACTLY! That’s exactly the feeling. With so much to do, just sitting and relaxing while playing a game or watching movies feels lazy, like something definitively productive needs to be happening.

  • Having to learn a whole new system , combined with knowing there’s going to be a least an hour or more before the game….gets going.

    It’s what took me so long to play Persona 5, love the series but each one is a slow burn before sh*t starts happening.

    Also habits, I’ve put hundreds of hours into Dead By Daylight and Payday 2, it just feels weird to jump into something else.

  • For me it’s mood. Persona 5 came out last year, which I’ve been waiting on since the PS2 years, but once I got it I realised I just didn’t feel like going through a routine based RPG for some reason.
    I also get stuck wanting to replay old games over new ones. Last year was a great year of releases, yet I spent more time on my PSX backlogue than new titles (other than BOTW, because Zelda).

  • Currently that roadblock is WoW.

    Some friends told me about a Australian Vanilla server called Nostralia and I’ve been playing that every day. I had been making good progress catching up on my playlist, but now Nier: Automata has sat next to my PS4 unopened for over 2 weeks and I’m not sure when I’ll decide to tear myself away from nostalgia to experience something new.

  • Steam backlog, any backlog really. Any comment here I could say almost the same. However, open world games seem to take up most of the time. I don’t really mind if it’s going to be worth it like Skyrim or Witcher 3.
    I’m working through my games though and have a strategy, which not only will enable me to finish older games but I’ll not have the need to upgrade my PC for some time also. I’m on the last expansion of Witcher 3, once I’ve finished, I’m going to work to some rules
    1- No new purchases, can wishlist but no new games
    2 – Oldest unplayed games I have first, start to finish, then work through the years the games were released. This also means that I probably won’t need to upgrade for a while.
    3 – Stop loss. If I’m playing a game which I’m really not enjoying after a good amount of time, quit it and put it on my pile of shame.

    That’s really just my preference though.

  • The biggest thing stopping me from playing games I already own is the sheer amount of games that I own.

    I have a backlog in the hundreds and not enough hours in the day to play them all. Not to mention the fact that new games get released quicker than I can finish the one I’m on, which just adds to the problem.

  • As many others have said, time. If I know a game is going to require 100+ hours to finish, I know that that means reserving a month or so of my free time to that game, forsaking all others. And these days, there’s very little by the way of “slow months” when it comes to releases. And also, there’s not much point starting a long game, getting 20hrs in, and getting sidetracked by a new release, cos 90% chance when/if I get back to it, I’ll have no idea what’s going on, and have to restart.

    Case point: I really, really want to play Pillars of Eternity. I would, however, need to forsake all other games for 2-3 months if I want to have a hope in hell of actually finishing it. That’s an entire quarter dedicated to one game. Not sure I can do that…

    • This is me with Divinity: Original Sin. Really want to buy it (currently a Deals with Gold on Xbox for $13), but I already have multiple games on the go and even more that have been shelved half finished and even more that haven’t even been looked at yet!

      • My New Year’s Resolution for 2016 was to finish The Witcher 3, PoE and SWTOR. I failed that resolution miserably with 0/3. 2017’s was to just finish TW3… I was about 90hrs into TW3 when I got sidetracked by something, and I’m not sure if I ever want to go back, because I’ll have to spend a good 5 hours just catching up on what I was doing and why.

  • Yeah for me personally it’s that first few hours of grinding. I hate gaming when I’m not enjoying it because I know there are things I could be doing with my time that are far more productive haha.
    Most games take time to develope their charm and ingrain themselves with the player, Orgins is definitely an example of that.

  • Further to everyone’s comment re:time; the fact that you have to learn the controls over and over again, because when you’ve got spare time again it’s been that long since you last played that you’ve forgotten everything about it.

    • I find RPGs the worst for this. Some new titles can be fine if they have a journal or they have a record of what you’ve done so far to get your recall going, however some are awful and give you no context.

  • I’m more likely to play something I bought for a day or two, then go back to a different, more entertaining title… and never play it again. FFXV. Andromeda. Dishonoured 2. Horizon.

    Doesn’t matter how good they are, I almost never pick them back up and finish them.

  • Every time I read one of these articles, I get one step closer to the decision not to have children.

    Anyway, yes, time is the biggest barrier, and sometimes opportunity (though the Switch has largely solved that problem). I’ve gotten much better with avoiding purchasing games I know I won’t have time for and I focus on fewer games and playing them more mindfully. Gone are the days when I could spend a minimum of 5 hours per day gaming so I have to be much more judicious in my choices. I only recently started playing BotW and as a completionist I know I’ll have my hands full with that for a fair while. When I’m done with that I’ll buy something else on a similar scale (probably XC2).

  • Yeah I have a stack that of games I either haven’t played at all or barely scratched. Witcher 3 l, horizon, doom, deus ex and dishonoured 2, all bought at release day and all only played for about 3 hours. Even tho I love them. Prob only completed 10 of the 30 games I bought last year.

  • Time, distraction. But mood’s another big one. I played the first section of The Last of Us the day it arrived, on PS3. And I thought it was amazing… but I was in the middle of a very stressful time in my life and that opening sequence affected me greatly. So I put it aside. I didn’t go back for about 9 months (actually just after I finished Black Flag and Infamous: Second Son on my shiny PS4). Very glad I did.

    Similar happened with Horizon Zero Dawn – bought it very soon after it came out. Put it in, was wowed by the opening sequence and the first part sneaking round ancient ruin… Work went to shit, I was playing a couple of other games that were easier to pick up/put down, and HZD went on the shelf until late last year. Now on my second playthrough. 🙂

  • The older I get the less inclined I feel to learn a new control system especially as some games can have a lot of commands. Otherwise I actually find the beginning of games are one of the more enjoyable parts (not including tutorial bits). I remember the tension of the Half Life 2 intro even before you could do anything but walk around (and pick up rubbish ;-).

  • I’ve actually been thinking about this a lot recently after having hundreds of games on my backlog and discovered a simple reason. It’s easier to keep playing something I already know than start something and have to relearn how to play it

  • Assassin’s Creed Origins is alot like thd Witcher 3? Haha bit of a push there… One changed open world storytelling forever, the other and just be reskinned and replaced this year with another sequel.

    • I think they mean Origins feels a lot like the Witcher 3 (which it does). You’re talking about impact. Witcher 3’s impact could be equated with Half Life 2, or World of Warcraft, or Minecraft – which are genre defining works of art, but you can hardly say they’re alike.

  • The difference for me, between a game that I play versus one that gathers dust on my pile of shame is whether I was eagerly looking forward to it’s release, or whether I bought it because it was good value.
    I magically make time for games I’ve been anticipating.

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