Five Game Challenge Day 5: Extracting Value

Earlier today when I was thinking about this post, it flowed really well and was quite smart to boot. I’ve been staring at the blank page for a few minutes now trying to capture even the barest hint of what I was thinking earlier. So let’s just all pretend together that I’m writing, and that you’re reading, a much better version of this post.

OK?

Great.

Now. I’ve talked about impulse purchases before. I’ve acknowledged the gargantuan backlog. But I hadn’t really attached these things to a sense of chasing value. Or really chasing much of anything. There was just same vague sense of it not quite being right. Something one simply ‘should’ do better on.

Couldn’t really have told you why one should do better though. It wasn’t dipping into funds set for other purposes. And more, there is a certain joy in the act of collecting separate from whether or not the acquisition is ever played.

I don’t idle for cards, so the time will be about as accurate as Steam can be.

Today two different posts emerged that spoke to the idea of extracting value from the games we own. Both taking different tacks to the topic.

The ‘Challenge’ Approach

XCOM 2: Not a game I need help getting more value from.

Paeroka wrote about her November Gaming Goals and had this to say:

“I usually don’t like to make something like this as it seems weird to add “goals” to something that should be there for relaxation. However, I tend to spend money on games and then end up not playing them and that seems like a waste of money. So, by adding a few gaming goals, I’ll keep myself busy with fun games and feel that I’m getting my money’s worth in return.”

Paeroka (2019), Gaming goals for November (Nerdy Bookahs)

Fun collecting or no, I understand the sentiment. Many of the unplayed games in my library are from bundles — but there is no shortage of games I bought with full intention to play and then simply… didn’t. And perhaps that’s why the deep yet inarticulate feelings of ‘should’ exist around our backlogs. Around extracting value from our acquisitions. It’s a broken promise — even if just an implicit one, and only to oneself.

I’ve avoided setting gaming goals too often for much the same reason as Paeroka. But clearly I enjoy the odd challenge, with Blaugust earlier and then despite how tired I was by the end taking on a two-fer in the form of restricting myself to five games for the month and then also posting every day again.

Perhaps some more regular goals of this nature might let me strike that feeling of extracting value from my games and hit the desire for challenges without having to go as nutty as this thing!

The ‘Low-Spend’ Approach

Skyrim (Special Edition): Another one I probably wouldn’t have picked if the point of the challenge had been value for money.

Krikket has taken another path. A much more difficult one, in my opinion despite some generosity being built into the self-set limitations.

Krikket has allowed herself to continue with Humble Monthly / Humble Choice for the year. One MMO subscription at a time and a single other game subscription service such as the Xbox game pass.

There is also an allowance for gifts during Summer and Winter sales, which I thought a nice touch.

And so far — I could be on board with this!

Where I jump off and make various ‘Whoa Nelly!’ noises is at the limit of buying only a single other game all year.

Cyberpunk 2077. Ori and the Will of the Wisps. Dying Light 2. The Last of Us 2. Nioh 2. Monster Hunter World: Iceborne. These are just some of the titles that came to mind this morning when I read her post, that are releasing in 2020 that I would want to pick up at release.

I could possibly get by — with the subscription services in the background — with one purchase a month as a limit. It would still mean some delayed purchases and having to make some priority calls each month. And perhaps it’d help me realise the benefit Krikket was after, too:

“I am hoping it’ll encourage me to play through some more of my library, as well as better evaluate the worth of the various gaming subscription services that are out there.”

Krikket (2019), Low Spend 2020: Putting a Halt to Impulsive Game Purchasing (Nerd Girl Thoughts)

Play to Satisfaction

The Outer Worlds: Well, I certainly haven’t played this one to satisfaction yet. But it’s on hold until the end of my current challenge.

Despite the title of the post — I think this concept is what resonates the most with me. It isn’t about the ‘value’ per se. I think the value perception is sort of a lagging indicator to the more important one: Satisfaction.

And full credit to Krikket for this one too.

She raised it in her November Goals post — and before I get to the quote, may I just say, if you’re not already following Krikket that you should be? :)

“For me, saying “Play to Satisfaction” gives me explicit permission to drop a game that’s not working for me, but also to grind away for nerd points if I’m really loving something. I’m trying to make it a policy for myself that I will always play to satisfaction – no more, no less.”

Krikket (2019), Nerd Girl Goals – November 2019 (Nerd Girl Thoughts)

I certainly don’t tend to struggle with the ‘no more’ part of that. I struggle a lot more with the ‘no less’.

With all the games I have coming my way, through bundles, subscriptions and general purchases there is nearly always something new on the immediate horizon. Something new (or new to me) that is of great, immediate, interest.

And if there was one problem that I felt needed ‘solving’ in how I approach games — it is this one. Playing a game through to the point of true satisfaction and not switching out before that point just because I can.

Between Paeroka’s discussion of goals in the context of the value of games, and Krikket’s approach of limiting spend I wonder if there might be something in there for me.

I’ll have to give it some more thought.

Naithin

Gamer, reader, writer, husband and father of two boys. Former WoW and Gaming blogger, making a return to the fold to share my love of all things looty.

9 Responses

  1. I only buy games in the sale if I plan to play them in the next week, and I’ve stepped away from buying games at release. With a few exceptions of course. I bought Eletronic Super Joy 2 at release to support the dev (friendly guy, has a dog), and because I loved the OST of the first game. I’ll buy Pokemon Sword soon after it comes out because, y’know, Pokemon. Other games can wait. I’m done with impulse buying (also because all my money is going to my books now). I have more than 200 games I haven’t played on Steam. More if you count GOG and the humble store. I’m sure I have a few other accounts for other bundles with games I haven’t played. Slowly, I’ll go through them, finish games, or hide them if they’re just not for me. It’ll take a few years though 😅

    • Naithin says:

      “I only buy games in the sale if I plan to play them in the next week”

      That’s a pretty good approach I think. For me, it wouldn’t necessarily be absolutely foolproof. Sometimes intention and reality don’t quite line up. But a nice filter to perhaps try nonetheless. ;)

  2. Rakuno says:

    I used to impulsively buy games on discount or bundles if they seemed like something I’d like. Then a friend commented that she did something similar to Tessa, i.e. only buying a game if she thought she would immediately buy. Since then I changed my habits and started to do something similar. I will only buy a game, with a discount or not, if I plan to play it immediately. Otherwise it goes to the Wishlist.

    I do make some exceptions though. If it is a developer I like and want to support then I will buy it day one. If it is a console game then I will try to get it as soon as possible since I prefer to buy physical copies for consoles and those can either be hard to get here or vanish very fast because the stores don’t keep big stocks of them (unless it is some uber popular game like Call of Duty or FIFA or something like that).

    • Naithin says:

      I don’t often impulse-buy outside of a sale. So if it’s not something I immediately want, it will go on the wishlist too. But when a sale rolls around… Well… Sometimes large additions to the library can be made. ;)

      Planned purchases on the other hand (i.e., ones I pretty much know barring awful early reviews I’m just simply going to buy) then I won’t wait for a sale more often than not and will pick them up right away. The issue then comes if a few of these release within a tight window of each other. >.<

  3. Nimgimli says:

    I used to buy a lot of games on sale because “I’d better grab it now while it is on sale.” and then by the time I got around to playing it, IF I ever got around to playing it, it was regularly priced lower than it was when I bought it on sale! So I’ve stopped doing that.

    One of the problems for me is I came of age back before digital distribution was a thing and game shops would and did sell out of a game, and sometimes those games would just plain and simply go out of print. That’s what got me started as a ‘collector’. I wasn’t collecting for the joy of collecting, I was doing it to ensure I would have access to the game if and when I wanted to play it. These days this isn’t an issue but part of my brain still thinks it is, I guess. I have to fight the urge to over-buy all the time.

    On a different point, I have found that sometimes if I “force” myself to keep playing a game when my attention first starts to drift I often find my enjoyment ramps up over time. (I think a lot of games have a bit of a ‘dull zone’ in the middle hours of them…like once you get past learning all the new mechanics that the game offers, but before the story really takes off, or before you really master the mechanics, depending on the type of game it is). I also finish more games which is its own source of satisfaction.

    • Naithin says:

      Yes, I very much relate to the ‘Better get it while its on sale’ mentality. There are a good number of games that mentally fall in a bucket of, ‘I wouldn’t buy it at normal price — but on a deep sale? You betcha I’ll grab it.’

      The problem then being with all the big seasonal sales, they often come into my library in an unmanageable avalanche. Hehe.

      On: “On a different point, I have found that sometimes if I “force” myself to keep playing a game when my attention first starts to drift I often find my enjoyment ramps up over time.”

      At first I had a bit of an allergic reaction to this. But on further thought I think I have two major means of leaving a game. (Unfortunately, completion isn’t a common enough one to rank up with these two. ;))

      1) I was still enjoying what I was doing — but something else has just come out or otherwise rapidly risen in priority. (Could be friends starting to play, as an example.)
      2) I notice (sometimes days later) that the drive to boot it up / login to it has gone or diminished.

      Both of those are typically a death knell for the game in question. Very few get returned to when this happens. (Although some do, Nioh is an example of that just since I’ve been blogging again.)

      In the first case — I think some degree of ‘forcing’ myself to continue could well apply. ESPECIALLY if it isn’t for the benefit of multiplayer. If it’s just me being distracted by some new shiny — then reigning that response in and sticking to what I’m having fun is probably a very good thing to do.

      In the second case… I’m not sure. I feel like following Krikket’s principle of ‘Playing to Satisfaction’ I’ve likely achieved that. But at the same time — I certainly hear you on the satisfaction of having finished it. Perhaps there is some room here to push onward too, through that first sense of diminished interest as long as it hasn’t progressed to the point of instead feeling like an out and out slog.

  4. asmiroth says:

    This is going to tangent a bit, but my relationship with money means that I only buy things I’m going to use. I had an ex that was always buying things cause they were on sale (like $800 skis when she never went down a hill) and it drove my up the damn wall. You save 100% of they money you don’t spend.

    In that sense, every game I do buy is bought with purpose. I don’t have any gaming backlog, and I’m generally amazed at how people respond to things like a Steam Sale. I may not have seen the ending of every game I own, but I feel I’ve “completed” them all to my satisfaction.

    I can see how this challenge is the equivalent of fasting. Maybe it will make people more appreciative or conscious?

    • Naithin says:

      I simply cannot imagine a world in which I don’t have a backlog.

      And yet, there was a time in my life when that was the case. I didn’t have the job I did now, fresh out of school and newly moved out of home — simple financial reality ensured there was no such thing as a backlog.

      I would rarely get to purchase a game and then would need to extract every last drop of fun it could offer me. Length of a game and the resulting dollar to hour ratio was the absolute key metric and purchasing decider. No small wonder then I suppose that RPGs became such a highly loved genre for me.

      Financial responsibility started in a space of neccessity, but has evolved with gaining a career and working through it to the point where my wife and I can be what I would consider to be fairly generous with ourselves and our discretionary spending.

      But it’s still budgeted, and removed from the general household funds. Bills and savings and investments come first.

      The discretionary we pay ourselves into our own individual chequing accounts is entirely up to us. It’s to cover non-family entertainment, eating out, etc. A large portion of mine often goes into gaming though as my primary source of entertainment. Hehe.

      But man… No backlog. That would be quite the thing.

  1. November 8, 2019

    […] lays down some strict rules for game purchases in the coming year. And apparently, Naithin has also pondered about this more […]

%d bloggers like this: