Play the games you buy.
No more back logs, or lists of long forgotten “meaning tos” or “must plays.” From this Thursday onward I challenge gamers to play the games they buy.
I know it won’t be easy. Steam, Humble Bundle, GOG, and all the online distribution platforms like them have changed the way gamers buy games. Digital sales have become legendary for their bargains. Valves famous bundles are Forbidden fruit, dozens of AAA games often auctioned off for a ludicrous 60 or 70 or even 80 percent off. To say it is hard to resist the value is an understatement.
For a season when giving is the goal, Steam’s slashed prices are the ultimate holiday miracle. Oftentimes the allure of bottom barrel prices spurs more than adrenaline in the veins, it opens a direct line to the wallet. Steam is a gateway drug; the well lit and decorated entrance to the video gaming underworld.
The fall always starts the same. A game you have always wanted but could never afford, day one. The price slashed by the blade of our Lord Gaben. Ten bucks is quickly torn from a debit card and stuffed into your online wallet. The value sends shivers to your hands. There is a feeling of disbelief as if you have won the lottery or found hidden treasure. Then, as your new game slowly downloads and you browse the many ongoing sales, another game catches your passing eye. You have always wanted to play it but never thought it was worth the money. The sale tells you that for the next 30 minutes the game is 85 percent off. Your jaw hits your keyboard with a smack. Quickly, you spam your cursor through another authorized dump of debit card cash onto the net. This time, 25 dollars seems reasonable, the sale is still ongoing, after all. This time you don’t even bother downloading the game, you immediately head back to the sales homepage, refreshing through the new daily deals. One by one you notice games that you never thought much of or wanted to play. Artwork drawn especially for sales catches your eye. Dragons spitting fire, orcs armies clashing on a burned and desolate plane, the images fill you with a sense of adventure. Quicky you check the reviews and your favorite streamers or youtube personality has given it a resounding 5/5. The games undergo an immediate change from unknown to must buy. Soon, your 25 dollar deposit is gone and in your library rests an eclectic group of games you mostly never wanted to play but found for a steal.
The feeling of disbelief has faded, or rather, it has been replaced by something stronger. A thirst. A bottomless hunger fueled by unbelievable, once-in-a-lifetime deals. No longer are you a passive bystander caught up unintentionally in the Black Friday rush, you are a hunter. Sales are your prey and they will not defeat you. The value will be yours.
When all is said and done, hundreds of unplayed games populate your now bottomless library. There is a sense of immense accomplishment. You feel a surge of pride as if you have managed to fell a great and powerful Stag. The sheer amount of savings, it seems unbelievable at first, but after some thought it only seems obvious given your newfound skill for the hunt. As the opening banner for the Steam sale fades and is replaced by a normal video game advertisement, you release a sigh of relief. It is finally time for you to appreciate all you have purchased. The constant stress of sales counting down has drained you. The stimulating tide of adrenaline recedes leaving a mixtures of opposing feelings. On one hand your body longs for the hunt. It remembers the thrill of discovery and capture. On the other hand you are tired and just want to enjoy the spoils of your war. Either way excitement fills the now empty space in your back pocket and quickly you scroll through your library looking for a game.
Dozens call out to you. There are platformers, puzzlers, RPGs, and FPSes. In your downward search for the chosen one a feeling of helplessness bubbles up from within you. There are too many. Most of them you have never even heard of. How do you even begin to chose one, let alone the right one? Unsure of what to do you lean back on your first choice and purchase. The game you had always wanted but could never afford to buy. As you watch the opening cinematic everything clicks into place. The game is amazing. For weeks you can barely set it down. Then, while you are opening Steam to start up your new favorite game, you notice a new sale has descended. The war drums beat, and once again the hunter prowls. The cycle continues.
The competition of digital sales is intense. I cannot blame anyone who falls for the genius marketing plan of giants like Steam or Origin. Even I have fallen to the wonder of the hunt. My steam library currently sits at a neat one hundred and seventy five games of which I have opened and installed 62, an ever-lasting legacy of my own unending addiction. Which is exactly what it is for myself and gamers like me, an addiction to savings. Not unlike the middle aged women glued to QVC, we gamers have become slaves to the zurg rush of digital sales. Which is why, nearly six months ago today, I adopted a new self-imposed rule restricting my purchases from Steam. The limitations are simple. Play the games I buy, each and every one of them. I don’t have to beat them, or plug in hours and days of my life, but I have to play them. I have to spend an hour or two exploring what they have to offer.
As a result, I buy less and play more. I don’t spend days, hours, or minutes, endlessly browsing the front-page of Steam for sales. I adventure, explore, and go to war, across fantastic lands and locales. My time has become a factor in my evaluation of value. A change I want to share with all of you. Which is why I am issuing a challenge: Play the games you buy this coming Black Friday, each and every one of them. And if you decide that you have no intention of immediately playing game, simply don’t buy it.