In some ways, the first year of Next-Gen felt like the gaming equivalent of being stuck in an airport for me. By that I mean that it was often characterised by large periods of waiting; periods in which I’d be sort-of half-heartedly doing bits and pieces just to pass the time/fend off boredom until the next significant event happened. Games seemed to trickle into stores at a fairly leisurely pace (at the time it felt like a positively fucking glacial pace), and with various delays and such being a factor too, the first few months of being a PS4 owner were never what you could reasonably call a time of plenty and abundance. This was great for my Trophy Lists (with some games getting waaaay more attention than they probably would’ve done ordinarily), and actually, for broadening my gaming horizons (playing genres I normally might not have bothered with), but there were times when I’d just felt distinctly underwhelmed.
The upshot of this was that when a new game did hit the shelves, I’d snatch it up like…..well, like a gamer who’d been waiting two months for a new game to come out! However, because it was a fairly lean year – and because purchases were staggered throughout it – this didn’t really feel like a huge expense, and because there weren’t loads of games available anyway, there wasn’t the sense that I needed to juggle my time to play through a ton of games I really wanted to play. In other words, my gaming schedule was dictated by the release schedule of the PS4, and I never really had a ‘To Play’ pile precisely because that schedule wasn’t particularly packed.
At some point though that changed, and even if I didn’t necessarily notice it at the time, I did develop a pile of games that I hadn’t played yet, another pile of games that I was playing a bit at a time, and yet another pile of games that I’d got so far with, but hadn’t finished and fully intended to go back to at some point. There were yet other games that I’d keep handy because I often dipped into their multiplayer when the mood struck, and others that I just enjoyed going back to for a bit of fun, or to relieve a bit of stress with some Zombie Head Shooting, or whatever. There were a couple of games about which I could’ve said ‘Yeah, I’m basically done with that’ – but not many, and even then, never say never and all that jazz. Then, when I got my Xbox One, I effectively doubled that position (with fewer games, but the same categories essentially) so, basically, I had lots of games in various states of (un)playedness, and with varying degrees of future (re)playabilityness. They’re not real words, obviously, but you get my point…….
Now – and here’s the crux of my turmoil – how does one go about deciding which of these to replace? Which category is a priority? What if a particular game’s in two or three other categories, but not in the one that’s considered a No-Brainer, indeed, is there a category that’s considered a No-Brainer? On a practical level (and because, as a general rule, insurance companies can be proper bastards who aren’t necessarily guaranteed to fully reimburse your losses), should I forget about categories, and just let price – or likelihood of picking up a cheap, used copy – dictate how I begin rebuilding my Game collection? If the cost of replacing a newer game that I haven’t yet got around to starting is the same as three older games I played a lot, should I go with the former one, or the latter three? What if the games don’t really fit into any categories, or I wasn’t in a position to decide which categories they fit into?
Take MGSV – a game I’d played a shitload, but hadn’t finished; should I cut my losses and say I’d mostly finished it? To make the decision more complicated, even though I don’t think I could stand redoing the grinding necessary to get to the same point in the SP campaign again, I’d not actually got around to trying the Multiplayer yet, and I’ve heard really good things about that aspect of the game! Does that change the ‘mostly done with it’ bit; does the potential of it being in the ‘dip in and out of its multiplayer for the foreseeable future’ category carry more weight than another game that’s definitely in the ‘want to finish 100% at some point’ category?
The bottom line here, is that I’ve got absolutely no fucking clue how to go about it. Some seem obvious (I had a few games I wanted to play again before a next instalment came out, for example), but even they become less obvious when I have played them before, because I think ‘hang on numbnuts, wouldn’t that money be better spent on a totally new experience?‘. Fallout 4 was obvious, and I’ve already got that, but basically everything else is up in the air, and if I can’t make a decision, or even figure out how to make the decision, there’s a real risk that I’m going to go insane. Likewise, if I rush into a decision, there’s ample room for regret down the line if my insurance company doesn’t play ball, and I’m not able to buy a few games I mis-assigned because of my own stupidity, or haste, or whatever.
I mean, it’s great that games are like this, and that we can – and often want to – return to them again, but holy shitballs it makes stuff like this a proper pain in the arse. Many games have something to offer us for the long-haul, and even ones that we don’t immediately fall in love with can sometimes win us over eventually. Indeed, in much the same way that even somebody like me can win the heart of someone given enough time, persistence, or (going back to the lack of initial games for the PS4 thing) a distinct lack of alternative options, sometimes these are actually the games that have the most staying power, even if they’re the less attractive, charismatic, or, erm, nice-smelling ones to start with.
Things could’ve been worse (it transpired that some of my PS4 games hadn’t actually been found, and thus remain decidedly un-fucking-thieved, so, like, ‘Small Mercies….’ and all that), and I’m lucky that I was insured and that I’m currently in the UK with access to plenty of used game stores, but I’m not going to lie, this shit is making my head (and heart) hurt. I’ve always treated my Game collection like I would, say, a music one, and kept games precisely because returning to them in a particular set of circumstances can evoke fond memories – or just feel comfortable and reassuring – and I’ve rarely sold or traded in any but the shittiest of games for exactly those reasons. Now, I’ma have to be ruthless, and practical, and/or smart about rebuilding my collection, and to be honest, none of those things are my forte.
So, if you’re still reading at this point, even though this may look like a (textbook) self-indulgent whine, it’s actually not (or not entirely) and I’d genuinely like some ideas. How would you choose what to replace, what not to replace, and on what timescale? Would you focus on enjoyment, value for money, or something else entirely? Should I concentrate on the games I haven’t played yet, even if that means abandoning some stone-cold favourites I’ve played the shit out of?
Any advice, should you have it, will be greatly, hungrily received because – to be honest – I’ll be fucked if I can figure out how (or where) to even start!