You can't play them all.
Let me paint a picture for you: you’ve just bought the latest video game that you’ve been waiting years to come out. You get home and start playing it, and you put around 10-15 hours into it. Then there’s another video game coming out soon after that you’ve also been waiting years for, and you buy that. The problem is you haven’t beaten the game you just previously bought and are now starting up a new game. Sound familiar to you? If not, lucky you. However if you’re like me, you’re finding you’re failing to beat a game before jumping straight into another one. It occurred to me though that it’s not just that as adults we don’t have that much free time anymore, but that there’s just way too many games to keep track of now.
It wasn’t until home consoles started to become more popular that video games were becoming more structured where they may come with either a story or an entire campaign to complete. These games would still be relatively short though, as they followed the medium that you needed to beat them in one go; if you ran out of lives, you had to start all over or input a code, but these games would have incredibly high replay value. What I’m essentially saying is that there were too few games which were often quite short experiences anyway to not complete; to learn about a new games release, people had to rely on word of mouth rather than mass marketing. As time went on of course, saving your game became a thing, meaning video games had the potential of not being somewhat of a slog to beat and you could just pick up where you left off… and here in began the problem of players leaving a game unfinished.
Back in the 70’s, 80’s and even the 90’s, games were often singular experiences and weren’t looking to sequel bait, or in most cases never even sold enough to warrant a sequel. If you think really hard about it, how many franchises from the 80’s still make games to this day that millions still play? At the top of my head I can only really think of a select few such as Tetris, Bomberman, Pac-Man, Street Fighter and Donkey Kong. Even if you look at all these franchises I just named, each game was designed to be played for around a 5-15 minute session, though if you so desired you could just continuously keep playing them for hours.
Fast forward to now, and we have games which can keep you busy for long periods of time. You can have games such as The Elder Scrolls, The Witcher and almost any JRPG game often taking tens of hours to complete. We have multiplayer only games like Apex Legends, World of Warcraft and Call of Duty which keep you on a hooked grind, where you could potentially find you’ve put hundreds of hours into them. Every week a few new games are released somewhere in the world whether it’s an AAA game or an indie game. Thanks to the likes of the internet, an overabundance of gamers around the world and technology advances, video games have become easier than ever to reach the hands of many.
Decades ago video game studios were few in number, where you’d often just have some guy in their basement trying to make the next biggest hit. Now there are hundreds, potentially thousands of developers each with hundreds of employees out there all working on something, or even multiple somethings. Hundreds of games are release every year, and you especially have some months where developers and publishers like to release the biggest games, most notably in November around the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. I am a fan of many, many franchises, from God of War to Call of Duty to Pokémon to Star Wars to Borderlands to Dark Souls to Assassin’s Creed. Some of these franchises especially release a game almost every year, and before I’ve even had a chance to scratch at them, I’ve already got many other games lined up to play.
For example, let me go through my own schedule of games to play over the next two months (yes, I have a schedule thought out in my mind!). Currently this week I am playing Borderlands 3 up until the 20th September where I’ll be playing The Legend of Zelda: Links Awakening (I am about 3/4th’s done with Borderlands 3, so I am hopeful to complete it). Following that on the 27th September I’ll be playing Code Vein (note all 3 of these games already take tens of hours to beat each!). Then I get maybe a couple of weeks break from new releases I’m personally interested in, however there are other games this year I would like to buy and try such as Control and Man of Medan before the year is out. Then on the 25th October I’ll be playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, on the 8th November I may be playing Death Stranding, and then the following week both Pokémon Sword and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order are out ON THE SAME DAY. I can’t guarantee if I’ll beat a game before the next one comes out in this list, but I will damn well try.
Now yes, I am putting myself through that purposely, so no one is really to blame on the frantic releases necessarily. But the problem is still there: gamers have been busier than they ever have been, and many of us struggle to keep up on the latest releases (unless it was our job to, which for 99.9% of us, it is not). I’m sure many people’s answers to this would just be “stop buying these games day 1 and play them cheaper and on a holiday perhaps”. Well by that point, there will be way MORE games I’d like to play, only adding to the problem than solving it. Plus were I to play them on holiday (which I do), I might be lucky enough to beat 1 or 2 out of the many games I’d like to play. Plus I don’t JUST want to be playing video games. It’s partly a reason why people buy games day 1: because then they’ve played it and can move onto the next game rather than the thought lingering at the back of their mind to play the game.
In some aspects, I envy streamers and video game reviewers who can simply play video games as their job and have the pleasure of writing on and playing them. I know it’s still a hard job to do at times as these people are constantly criticised by others. It’s no easy task to get into the business, believe me I’ve tried on numerous occasions with Twitch streaming and a YouTube channel, and hey even this website right now. All have so far failed with the exception of what you are reading right now, as this site is still a work in progress. More competition is coming to the industry with the likes of the Google Stadia too, which means more and more potential games on the way. The industry needs to just slow down a bit… somehow.