It's OK To Stop Playing 

Recently it was discovered that Anthem was causing some PS4s to crash and possibly even stop working until fixed. Red Dead Online’s latest and biggest update ruined the game for many players and didn’t add enough content. Fallout 76 seems to always be in a constant state of barely working.

Many players, even after all these problems and setbacks, keep playing even if the game is making them unhappy, angry or disappointed. Folks, it’s time to stop playing. It’s ok to take a break.

I’ve played something even after the game has done nothing but upset or disappoint me. Years ago when GTA Online first launched I poured hours into it. After a few days, my friends stop playing as much and ultimately many stopped altogether. I didn’t. I stayed with it. I kept hoping that the next update or patch would help fix everything.

“Heists are coming any day now!” I would say to myself. Months passed and eventually, I realised that I wasn’t having fun and I just needed to walk away.

Sometimes it is easy to fall into a pit where you keep playing because the game has a really fun core experience to it or because you paid for the special edition or maybe you just don’t want to fall behind. I remember taking a few days off GTA Online and returning to see players triple my level already.

I remember panicking. I needed to catch up. But I really didn’t. Falling behind isn’t a big deal, even if your brain disagrees.

It is also possible to guilt yourself into playing a game. I know someone who bought Artifact and plays it even though they don’t like the grind, there aren’t many players still active and Valve seems to have forgotten about the game entirely.

Their reason? “I spent money on the game and the cards and I don’t want to waste that cash.” I’ve felt that way too. I remember buying The Division and grinding and grinding for days and weeks because I didn’t have a lot of money and every game was an investment for me. Most of that time I wasn’t really having fun, especially when I played alone. Long after I should have, I finally did stop playing it and I felt better.

Many games these days launch in various states of finished. It seems nearly every major game release has a roadmap. It can often feel like these roadmaps are plans for when the game will become better. When it will finally be fun. Maybe even when it finally becomes good? Yet these roadmaps are also a great indication that perhaps it’s best to stop playing and wait.

My boss Stephen Totillo wrote a great post echoing a similar-to-this idea last year. He waited a year to play Destiny 2 and ended up having a pretty good experience.

Except I’m not really talking about waiting to play a game. I’m talking to you, the person who might be playing something right now that isn’t clicking with you or is making you frustrated. You keep checking Reddit, watching dev streams or popping into the game’s forums. You are hoping to find solutions to problems and wanting more and better things to do. Odds are these things will come, but don’t suffer while you wait.

I spend a lot of time in the Red Dead Online community reading forum and Reddit posts. Many of these comments today are angry or negative, which is understandable. The game isn’t where many fans want it to be. Still, I can’t help feeling a bit sad reading these comments. I really want many of these folks to just step away from the game. Come back in a few months or a year and see if things have gotten better.

Don’t just stop playing either. Completely disconnect. Stop thinking about it. Play something else, maybe a game on your backlog. There isn’t any reason to keep making yourself angry or upset over something that you have nearly no control over.

I’m not saying don’t leave feedback or suggestions, but realise that at some point if you are spending more time hoping and talking about fixes on Reddit than playing the game, it might be time to step away from it.

Whatever your reason for still playing that game that is upsetting you or making you feel bad, it’s probably time to stop and take a break. Play something else. You’ll probably feel better. Plus when you finally come back to that game it might just be worth playing.

This is an important thing to remember as more and more games become “live experiences”. I like the idea of a game growing and updating over time, just don’t feel like you need to stick around through all of that evolution.


Comments

    Totally agree with this. Stopped playing Anthem to play Apex Legends and now looking back I realise I wasn't having fun but I was playing it to justify my purchase and my hype for the game before it came out.

    I feel like people do this just so they can have something to whinge about. If I don't think I'll enjoy a game I don't buy it, if I've bought it and I don't like it then I won't play it anymore.

      It is called the Sunk Cost Fallacy. You have invested into something that was not worth it in the end, so you try and justify you cost.

      As a result of this disappointment and emotion to keep playing causes the whinging.

        That's understandable when you're locked into the purchase, like buying digitally and exceeding whatever the refund terms are. If you buy physical for consoles then you can just take it back. EB for example has a 5 or 7 day no questions asked refund policy.

    For me I am actually having a blast playing Anthem, when it works. I am not blind to the flaws but am adult enough to see value in a rough diamond. While people were screaming about quitting (instead of just doing it quietly) on Destiny 1, I couldnt for the life of me find myself getting that upset over something, just because it was not perfectly made into my imagine of perfection.

    Honestly reading the loot stuff about Anthem is frankly embarrassing, yes it is not perfect, yes it needs looking at but no I dont think the games needs to have loot dropping like candy. Especially with a loot pool that small. But the way people are going on it is like its the greatest gaming disaster since the last great gaming disaster. What was it? No idea, they seem to happen weekly these days.

    I think some gamers just lose perspective and seem to think the type of changes that they want cant happen over night. And Bioware has proven that they are way too reckless and way too fast in delivering patches to try and cater to the mob, they end up breaking more than they fix.

    All I know I am having a blast playing Anthem, for all its faults. Yet what is making me want to quit is the Hammer Horror style lynch mob over at reddit, who have lost the real scale of the situation and made it (seem like) a matter of life or death.

      You do realise that a large portion of gamers seem to enjoy acting like spoilt children, right?

      All games must run at 4k at max detail on their budget CPU, 8GB RAM, and 5 year old mid range GPU otherwise it's a bad port with memory leaks.

        Right.

        Gamers are spoilt children for wanting a game to be functional on release and not cause their consoles to shut down and corrupt storage.

        Such Entitlement!

          yeah but the outrage isnt about bugs and all that. It is about the amount of loot they are getting. Personally I can barely play the game when I hit A. Maybe seven times I have to hit A. Then in game I crash after every single mission. Sure i am mad, sure the game shouldnt have launched with issues, but this outrage is not about any of that, it is about people wanting more loot and then like what happens on reddit people who dont even play the game jump in as a 'rent a crowd' for the lol's. We see it time and again. Meanwhile all the posts from people such as myself are buried. So yeah entitlement.

          They are when they preorder a game and complain about it afterward. As adults we know that any game with heavy online (or online only) will be a crap show unless there's an extensive open beta, stress testing, etc...

          Spoilt children need to have it on day one while adults can use self control and patience.

            No they aren't. You are making a lot of huge assumptions. If I pay for a game I expect it to be functional and not crash my console and corrupt the hard drive.

            Your arguments are lacking in logic and sense. Labelling someone as entitled for complaining about a product they paid for is frankly a fucking moronic argument to make.

              It's exactly the same gamble you make backing something on Kickstarter, or buying the first generation of new tech. Being an early adopter is risky.

              Paying for a game 1 or 2 or 6 months in advance isn't the smart thing to do. There's no benefit to pre-orders or day one purchases. If we're using logic and being sensible then the best option is to wait to buy a game some time post launch.

                No it isnt at all

                Kickstarter is an investment

                Buying a game is buying a product with the expectation of it function. Companies love people like you who make excuses for them. They can shovel as much shit as they want and you will make excuses for them

                What's next? I go to a restaurant and get food poisoning and you call me entitled to complaining?

                Your comparison is illogical and your argument is still moronic.

                  If you back a game what do you get when (if?) it launches...? You're not an investor, you don't have a stake in whatever you back.

                  I buy my games late. I get them on special. Sometimes they're free. Companies love people who drop their cash early.

                  But hey, you do you, don't let anyone stop you from buying those games.

                  It seems to me that you are arguing about how things were/should be (purchasing a product = receiving a fully functional product or else, having a right to complain and make demands), while rufati is talking about how things /are/ regardless of how much we think it's fucked up. It's not like it's a very new thing, even. People have been reporting on how objectively wrong and counterproductive to one's satisfaction is to pre-order a game for several years now.

                  In other words, you can keep acting as though you live in a reality that, very, very sadly, no longer exists and feel frustrated and angry when, predictably, you get screwed over by the new reality, or you could swallow the jagged pill of change and accept that you must adapt your behaviour in order to minimize frustration.

      All I know I am having a blast playing Anthem, for all its faults. Yet what is making me want to quit is the Hammer Horror style lynch mob over at reddit, who have lost the real scale of the situation and made it (seem like) a matter of life or death.

      Perhaps stop reading Reddit and stop caring what others think about the game?

      Seriously have you even visited the Anthem reddit? Much like the Fallout 76 Reddit its full of fanboys in denial who downvote anyone who is negative about the game.

      When Someone posted Skillups anthem review to the subreddit there were hundreds of comments of people calling him biased or just hating on the game to make money.

      If people saying negative things about a game wants to make you quite, You obviously don't truly like the game if you are that sensitive.

      You are yet again trying to downplay the issues with a game by labelling anyone who dislikes it as a "Mob".

      I cant wait to see the next game that is a dunpsterfire on release that you will defend.

        The Anthem subreddit is a dumpster fire of negativity. No idea where you think people get downvote for being critical of the game. It's the opposite. Make a lengthy post complaining and it showers gold and upvotes.

          No idea where you think people get downvote for being critical of the game

          It was like that before the demos, all through the demos, even the first few days. The place was full of EA apologists, defending them entirely and absolutely. It was scary and more than a bit creepy.

            Makes sense. That stopped pretty quickly once enough people hit end game.

      Same, I've found Anthem to be the type of game you play for an hour and stop.

      I think the people who want it to fill 8 hours of their day need to do something else.

    It's ok to not buy every AAA game that is hyped to the max. Most of them are utter shit.

    Don't waste your money or time, wait for some reviews from the public or 'trusted' reviewers and never pre-order unless you are 99% sure you're getting what they are promising.

    But if everyone walks away than development on the game shuts down and stuff!
    I personally like to avoid games that are being built after release. There's several generations worth of games to back and play while developers finish their jobs.

    Did that with PUBG, loved the Mobile game, bought the game on xbox, hated it, much harder to get weapons, less features than free version, played maybe 10 hours and haven't gone back! I wanted to like it but it's too hard to get into.

    There's a name for it, the "Sunk Cost Fallacy". You convince yourself that you're investing in a potentially good future for the game when really you feel hesitant to drop something that you've already invested time, emotion and money into. In reality, those investments have already given their return and you're better off cutting your losses or just taking the good memories and walking away.

    There's also a Fear Of Missing Out that pervades your gameplay, making it even harder to walk away. What if it gets good soon? What if I come back and find I've missed something really important? What if my friends get too far ahead of me and I can't catch up? etc.

    Really though we all know it's so you can complain about something you hate on the internet because there's nothing that gives a greater sense of worth and superiority than being negative about something.

    Think you missed one crucial point considering this is an Australian audience.

    Sometimes you don't have a choice due to player bases, my fear now is that if i don't get in early all the players will be onto the next game leaving scant servers / player base available.

    Consider Warhammer vermintide 2, i started playing this a month or so ago and the player base must be around 100 - 200 now

    Last edited 12/03/19 1:21 am

    Good article. In my case it was Fallout 76 had a decently designed map but dear me what a dumpster fire and I am so much happier walking away from it

    I got Anthem on the PS Store on launch and after a day or two of my friends and I playing it we were all pretty much agreed that despite the game still being in the 'honeymoon period' (where you keep playing it because you convince yourself it'll get better, we already had no desire to play it at all.

    Uninstalled and $99.95 down the drain but taught me a big lesson.

    2018 / 2019 has been great for my wallet.

    I've gone from someone who bought literally every AAA game, often double dipping on console and PC, to now only purchasing quality titles which aren't designed around live services and microtransactions.

    Typically I've always been in the thick of new release drama - wading through the muck with everyone else. But I've realised that, after all the time spent playing live service games, I just wasn't having much fun. It was something to do, sure. But none of it felt rewarding, or even important, in the way God of War , Metro: Exodus or Bioware games of old used to feel.

    Live service games feel like they carry an incurable sickness with them. A desire to keep you logging in, but to tweak the numbers just enough so you're never quite satisfied. You're playing a lot, but you're never really that satisfied. You're just... sorta... going through the motions.

    There are some that almost get it. Warframe is remarkably fair. And Apex Legends is a solid shooter that I feel zero desire to spend money in (I will eventually, if only to support them).

    But for the vast majority, 2018 was the year I lost any sense of trust in the big publishers. They all seem to be designing their games via analytics now - how far we can be pushed before we reach for the in-game currency.

    I'm no longer hyped about anything upcoming until I've at least heard from some trustworthy YouTubers (SkillUp, ACG, Jim, Angry Joe, Super Bunnyhop etc). Our own Alex Walker, too.

    I highly recommend those of you still running with AAA live services to consider the alternatives. Or at least to start reflecting on whether you're having any real fun. Will you look back on FO76 the way you will FO3? Or Anthem the way your will ME2?

    With more time to experiment, over the past 12 months I've had enormous fun playing smaller titles like Into The Beach, Warhammer 40K: Mechanicus, Metro: Exodus, Subnautica, Darksiders 3, Ashen and much more.

    It doesnt help that almost every single kotaku article on one of these unfinished games, especially anthem

    Has a “well maybe itlll get good later so dont give up on it yet” bit at the end of a weakly negative article

    If the game is bad now, dont get peoples hopes up so they keep playing it, if its bad NOW dont play it NOW

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