Christmas and the Impending Futility of the Gaming Backlog

Christmas and the Impending Futility of the Gaming Backlog

Richard Walker

It happens every single year: I break up for the holiday season and contemplate making a dent in my gaming backlog. And, inevitably, the endeavour fails miserably, as either life gets in the way or I become hung up on a single game. As first world problems go, it's about as pitiful as you can get, but it's a perennial one, and composing a list of games I need to tackle on an annual basis is all part and parcel of a futile effort to catch up on the things I've yet to play. When it comes to battling the backlog, it’s a fight I can’t win.


Don't worry, this isn't my actual backlog.

“Have you played such and such?” the conversation with numerous friends normally begins, and much of the time I can reply in the affirmative. But, once in a while, when the answer is “no”, it's usually something that everyone has played and I probably should have played, too, and that can be slightly embarrassing. To this day, I own more than half a dozen Zelda games, but I still have yet to play one – as such, it remains a major blind spot in my gaming history; my not-so-secret shame.

But, then, I hear a lot of people lamenting the state of their gaming backlog, and while it's a nice problem to have – being in a position to afford an expansive library of games – it can engender the sense that there will never be enough hours in the day to play everything. Worse still, I have games that are half-finished, some of which I'd have to start from scratch if I wanted to return to them, and enjoy their myriad delights as intended. Last year, I put about eight hours into Cyberpunk 2077 before bouncing off it, but I'll be damned if I can remember all that much of it.

Games like Hitman, in which I've beaten every level but would love to achieve mastery across the board, or attempt some of the Elusive Targets and Escalation Contracts, seem like an impossibility – how or why would I return to a game I've already finished once to play again and again, when the backlog is screaming my name? Considering which games to invest time in is a persistent conundrum, and the likes of Forza Horizon 5, with the allure of its seasonal Festival Playlist objectives, or the constant pull of Deathloop's sandbox, don't much help matters. That’s before you even consider dalliances with the latest must-play indie titles or expansions.

I can't stop playing Forza Horizon 5. Help!

Couple that with a newfound addiction (started during the first covid lockdown) to logging on to eBay to purchase old games and consoles in a bid to play stuff I missed years ago, and the backlog issue is only further compounded. I am fully aware that this enters the realm of pure idiocy, and it's a hobby that also puts a strain on the old bank balance, as well as the amount of time I have to play the teetering pile of games bearing down on me. I am, it seems, a glutton for punishment.

During lockdown, I added a Dreamcast, original Xbox, New Nintendo 3DS, and SEGA Master System II to my collection, and I've spun a handful of games on each of them, before leaving them set up in the spare bedroom, (criminally) gathering dust. Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 is where I do the majority of my playing nowadays (I'm acutely aware of how lucky I am to have both), and Xbox Game Pass, with its constant flow of new titles poses another obstacle to the ever-present backlog. Much like battling a hydra, you complete one game, and another two appear in its place.

To some, this article might read like the churlish whining of someone fortunate enough to be faced with such a ludicrous problem, but it's symptomatic of a period where many of us are blessed with an embarrassment of video game riches, when we have more games than we know what to do with, but not nearly enough time to play them all (despite covid stranding many of us at home). I know I'm not alone when it comes to facing down a towering selection of fantastic games, as it's something I've seen mentioned time and again. It’s less a complaint, more a realisation of our own mortality, the finite time we have on this big blue marble.

Yes, I'm considering doing a New Game+

And while it might not necessarily feel like we're living through a renaissance period for video games, there's no disputing that we, as players, are indulging in a seemingly unending digital feast. Given complications caused by the pandemic, we're especially lucky to have had a slew of new releases over the past two years, many of which are of startling quality – and I could never hope to play them all. This year alone, we've had the likes of It Takes Two, Halo Infinite, Deathloop, Lost Judgment, Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, Psychonauts 2, Back 4 Blood, Hitman 3, Sable, and Death's Door, to name but a few. And while I'm proud to say I've played most of them (thanks in no small part to it being in my job description), I'm ashamed to say that I’ve bounced off numerous games, like Metroid Dread and Hades, and haven't so much as even looked at Psychonauts 2 or Returnal. And not because I don't want to. There's simply too much good stuff, and so little time to play it all. That’s before you even consider the deluge that 2022 will bring.

Once again, I'll have a go at chipping away at the backlog during the Christmas holidays, but I can only assume that it'll all be in vain. Wish me luck.

  • I hear you loud and clear, I'm in the same boat. I keep adding to my collection, but I'm gonna have to face the reality that it's become more of just that, a collection. Not something where I can participate and enjoy every title in that collection. Sometimes it's time, sometimes it's the available space on the consoles, as I can't even install some of the games I want to play until I can finish others to delete for the room. I do myself no favors by getting in on gamerscore contests and things like that, which end of dictating the types of games played, instead of it being a natural decision to play game A or B or system X or Y when I'm in the mood to play those.

    This problem is quadrupled when it comes to streaming content for movies and shows, as it's just a perpetual "add to watchlist" that will likely never happen. Reviews will be glowing for show A, my friend is raving about show B and I just really want to watch that dumb show C, but alas, they wait in the digital waiting room for me to find the time.

    The kids are off on the holiday break until Jan 10th (a few days added cause of covid crap...which will likely go longer), so I told myself I'm taking some games off that backlog and finishing them. I'm gonna finish at least one streaming series and I'm gonna at least watch 2 movies from my pile of stuff to watch. I'm hopeful this will happen but in reality, this is likely delusional to think I'll get any of that done and my progress after this will be hey I finally watched the third episode of Squid Game and got to chapter 2 in some game.
  • Im exactly the same, in the sense every time i have some time off work i plan to blitz out a load of backlog but end up watching too much tv/footy/films. Ive been saying for 2 years ill finish my 50 odd game 360 backlog but it hasn't been turned on for over 3 years gathering dust! There are waaaay too many games released on a weekly basis nowadays to keep up. My x1 backlog is like 500 games deep now cos im a sucker for a digital only release when its sub £5! Good thing that with my backlog i NEVER pay full price for anything anymore: Disc or digital.
  • As a housebound disabled single person I find it's the very opposite for me. I burn through everything new super fast, even massive RPGs only usually last a couple weeks for me. Thank fuck I've got my 4 go to dependables, Minecraft, Fortnite, Ark and Rocket League.
  • Another one here.

    My backlog is about 800-1000 titles (lost overview a looong time ago...) , ranging from Xbox Classic to Series X - all physical, not to mention digital games, GPU and GWG...

    Sometimes I think it's time to recognize this hobby more as simply collecting than gaming itself.

    And achievement hunting isn't making things better...

    A real luxurious problem for sure but at least I don't seem to be the only one that struggles.
  • If i was still a teenager and had this many games to play , it would have been a dream. you get older and can finally buy all the games you want but you don't have the time or energy to play them because you have responsibilities.

    at this point i only pay full price for games that i know i will play immediately . everything else i got on sale or is the "complete " or "definitive" edition of a game that i probably won't even get to play.
  • There's only a few games I consider in my backlog that I really want to play but never have time
    Red dead 1 and 2
    Fallout new Vegas
    Resident evil 7, 8, 0, 1 and 3 lol
  • Add me to the list...

    My backlog between Xbox, Switch, PS3, and PC is around 600-700 games. You always tell yourself you'll make time to make a dent in the collection, and it always ends up being a ding. But we do it to ourselves, heh. For every 1-2 games I complete, it seems like I'm picking up 3-4 games in some sale where I cash in my Microsoft Rewards points to acquire them.

    My movie/tv show backlog is just as bad, along with my comic backlog, and board gaming backlog. Too many damn hobbies!
  • I'm happy to see that you took my advice and got a 3DS, but I assume based on the article you never got around to playing all the other Ace Attorney games! Although in fairness if you get going and get the bug you may blast through them without having to make a point of doing so!

    But to the point of the article, yep, i'm the same. I haven't bought a game for over a year now due to a combination of backlog and Game Pass, and I am surprisingly ok with that. Without sounding too much like a self-help manual, it can help to adjust your viewpoint - try not to think of the backlog as a chore to work through and more like your own kind of mini-Game Pass; you have a bunch of games that you have the opportunity to play if you want. If you feel like playing something else then that's ok too. At the end of the day it's all there for your own entertainment.

    The only thing I would caution against is spending loads of money on games you know you aren't going to play. Picking them up in a sale when they are cheap is one thing, getting a cool special edition is another (I got an amazing Monkey Island 30th anniversary box from Limited Run and it's the best) but paying over the odds for a game on release when you have a hefty backlog is not the way to go!
  • I’ve had to prioritize only playing Game Pass games I really am interested in instead of exploring blindly. I’m down to double digits in my backlog after a few months of doing that.
  • I actually get anxiety thinking about my backlog. I don’t mind not completing everything 100% but want to at least experience as much as I can. I want to try to complete my entire disc collection but with constant games being added on game pass it’s seemingly getting more unlikely. Also when there’s games that are rumoured to take 100 plus hours to complete, I can’t justify playing just one game for that long.
    I have to keep telling myself it doesn’t matter, but I hate having certain games like cyberpunk and final fantasy I’ve barely touched.
  • As someone who has recently started going onto ebay or amazon and buying old games that I previously missed out on, I hear that. Past two years I've taken 12 physical games out of my backlog each year. I easily add 2-4x that over a year. Hopefully 2022 is the year of the short campaigns instead of massive RPGs to play through
  • I am jealous as hell of my daughter. She recently got into anime and has been burning through shows that took me months and years to finish lol. And still has time to blast through the new Pokemon and keep up with all her Roblox friends. Meanwhile it takes me two weeks to finish a 20-hour completion or the 8 episodes of The Witcher, and like a month or two for a decent length fantasy book. Being an adult is the worst.
  • You need to register before being able to post comments

Game navigation