Sometimes You Just Have To Let Backlog Games Go

Sometimes You Just Have To Let Backlog Games Go
Image: Square Enix / Kotaku

Most of us will probably never play every game we own right now, let alone all the others we’ll buy or download in the future. In that sense, backlogs are like the universe: infinitely expanding and confounding to physicists. Sometimes you just have to make peace — or force yourself to make peace — with the fact that certain games will never leave the old pile of shame. On this week’s episode of Splitscreen, we ritually delete beloved games from our backlogs — and also celebrate Kotaku’s backlog month in other, less emotionally devastating ways.

To kick off the episode, Ash Parrish, Mike Fahey, and I dig through our personal backlogs and talk about the games we just can’t seem to dislodge. I bought an entire ultrawide PC monitor to get the best possible Death Stranding experience a year ago! I still haven’t played it! What is wrong with me?

Then we discuss backlogs as an ever-present video game culture concept, focusing on the way the implicit need to complete everything turns a hobby into a job — a job that conveniently benefits companies and storefronts far more than it benefits regular people. We also touch on how live service games exacerbate this issue to the point of psychic agony.

Lastly, we gather ‘round a dim ember on the night of a blood-red moon — or at least, we imagine that’s what we’re doing — and each offer one game from our respective backlogs as a ritual sacrifice. The rules are simple: Whichever game we pick, we must never play. Backlogs are job-like stress made manifest. At some point, you have to learn to let go. Real shame Fahey picked Genshin Impact, only to find out seconds later that it has a PC version, though. Let that serve as a cautionary tale: You should never get too cavalier with your rituals.

Get the MP3 here, and check out an excerpt below.

Fahey: [In a deep, scary voice] It is time. It is time for games in our backlog to die the final death.

[In a regular voice] I can’t keep this up. For the purposes of this segment, we will each be choosing one game from our backlogs — our substantial backlogs. Ash, why are you laughing?

Ash: I’m not laughing. I’m looking at my Steam library, and I’m like “I don’t want to do this.”

Fahey: She’s crying.

Ash: You’ve driven me to tears already. I can’t make this choice.

Fahey: Anyway, what we’re gonna do is, we’re each gonna choose one game from our backlog — one particularly vexing game — and we will uninstall it from our very being.

Ash: They have to be good games. Don’t do anything, like, low stakes.

Nathan: This has to be painful.

Ash: Yeah!

Fahey: Let’s go ahead and pick our games. Ashley first. Which game will you be deleting from your existence?

Ash: Does this mean I can never go back?

Fahey: You can never go back. If you write about it, we will give you shit. Endless amounts of shit.

Ash: Because I have a game that I want to delete, but I already played it. I want to play it again. So I guess it doesn’t count.

Fahey: No, no. We’re not gonna allow that. “I guess I’ll never play this game I’ve already played before.” You choose another one. Nathan, what are you bringing to the table — to the altar?

Nathan: I’m in a weird spot because there are a couple I could do, and they’re both valid for different reasons. One of them is Hollow Knight. I’ve played a bit of it. Every time people talk about it, they make it sound so good, but every time I play it, I’m like “I don’t like this game at all.” Recently, one of the sadly deceased former hosts of this show, Kirk Hamilton, who is definitely dead and not alive and well on another podcast, did a musical medley from Hollow Knight, and it was beautiful. It was absolutely gorgeous — an incredible composition — but it was rooted in a really strong track to begin with. And I was like “Man, I can’t believe this game has such good music. It has really good components. I want to play it again.” But then I discovered that, no, I still just don’t love it. So that’s one I could stand to part with, even though everybody loves it.

The other one is Nier, because realistically, I will probably never finish it — not just for the reasons I outlined previously [short version: I’ve started it on four separate occasions!], but also because it’s become, like, a meme. For me, it’s really hard to get lost in a world where every time I see a character or some element of it, I think, “Oh yeah, I remember that meme, or that part of the discourse, or whatever.” Especially when it’s a world unique and alien as Nier’s. I don’t know if I want to pull all that baggage into playing it.

So those are my two picks. But what I’m gonna do is a little twist: Y’all get to choose for me. What do you want me to get rid of forever?

Fahey: Oh man, it hurts to say this. I mean, what do you think, Ash?

Ash: Nier.

Fahey: We’re gonna be that mean and just say he’s not gonna play Nier ever?

Ash: Yeah.

Fahey: Amazing. We have the power. [In deep, scary voice] Nathan, you are hereby forbidden from playing the game Nier: Automata, Aumotama, or any game, even if they remix it with 25 numbers at the end of the title. You can still play Nier Replicant, but you can never, never again, attempt to play Nier: Automata. And if we find out you have, we will come to your house, and we will fuck you up.

Ash: See, you’re gonna regret not letting me choose the one I was gonna choose, because if I was never allowed to write about it again, you would, like, freak out.

Nathan: Is it a Dragon Age or a Mass Effect?

Ash: It was a Dragon Age and/or Mass Effect. It was gonna be Dragon Age Inquisition, but I’ve played that already, so it doesn’t count. Guess I’m gonna have to write about it for the rest of my life now. You guys missed out. So my choices are either Persona 4 Golden or Destiny 2. I really want to play Persona 4, but it’s just like, oh god, if it’s anything like Persona 5 — and people are telling me it’s better than Persona 5 — it’s gonna take at least 100+ hours. Nobody has that time. But I want to. It’s there. I want to.

And then there’s Destiny 2, which is a great game. It’s a good appointment gaming thing, where you can pick it up, play for 20 minutes, fill some time, and feel good about it. But it’s also taking up upwards of 80 gigs or so on my computer, and I’m having storage issues because I have so many games I’m not playing, and I need to get rid of something. Deleting Destiny 2 would free up a lot of space, so it’s like, shit, I don’t know what to do.

Nathan: If I were in your shoes, I’d pick Destiny 2. The reason is because you already have a game occupying your MMO slot right now — which is Final Fantasy XIV — and it seems like you like it a lot. That game is probably gonna be your MMO of choice for a while at least. Destiny 2 is fun, and it feels really good to play, but I think it’s a game where — more, maybe, than Final Fantasy XIV — you need to be playing it with friends. I think that as soon as you’re not playing it with other people, the appeal goes way down.

Ash: I think you’re right. Where’s that uninstall button?

For all that and more, check out the episode. New episodes drop every Friday, and don’t forget to like and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Stitcher. Also, if you feel so inclined, leave a review, and you can always drop us a line at [email protected] if you have questions or to suggest a topic. If you want to yell at us directly, you can reach us on Twitter: Ash is @adashtra, Fahey is @UncleFahey, and Nathan is @Vahn16. See you next week!


  • Indeed. I finally started tackling my 359-game Steam backlog in earnest at the beginning of February, and even from the beginning I knew there’d be games I’d be skipping for one reason or another.

    After knocking the 100th game off the list, however, it became abundantly clear to me that I’d need to be a little bit more ruthless with my cuts for the sake of my own sanity. So I went through the entire list, and cut 50 of them.
    Is it annoying? Sure, but ultimately the most important thing is actually finishing this project.

    Another thing that’s made this process more interesting is keeping a living document on the games I’ve played, and a few thoughts on each one in order:

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