As a young, single adult with a modest amount of disposable income and a keen desire to get the most bang for my buck, I frequently took advantage of Steam sales to add a huge variety of games to my Steam library. Over the course of each year, I’d add any interesting games to my wishlist and, whenever I receive an email notifying me that an item on my wishlist is on sale, I buy the game if it is at least 50% off listed price. During big sale events, I will buy games with a smaller discount, but only if I’m out of big titles to play. For instance, I still haven’t bought Dark Souls 3 because I haven’t even beaten the first one yet and I still occasionally dip into Fallout 4 since I’ve never actually beaten that, either. I’ve made it to level 100, but I’ve never beaten it because there’s just so much else to do. Which feels a lot like looking through my Steam library for something to do.
While I don’t have as many games in my library as some of my peers (one woman I know has over a thousand games in her Steam library), I’ve played maybe a dozen of them. I’ve installed well over 20% of them, but most of the time I wound up uninstalling them to make room for some other game on my hard drive. Every time I look through my library of unplayed games, I think to myself how fun they all look. Yet every time I’m looking for something to do, I invariably return to games I’ve already played or decide to put another dozen hours into Fallout of Borderlands 2. I started playing Broken Age a few months ago because I thought it’d be super fun to review, but I stopped playing to go hang out with my friends at one point and I’ve never gotten back to it. Half my library are low-commitment games, from 2-10 hours of projected playtime, so I shouldn’t have any qualms about committing to a new game since it’ll be over in a day or two of playing anyway.
But I do. I have tons of qualms. I’d like to chalk it all up to my depression and my habit of berating myself if I “waste” time when I could be doing something productive, but I feel like that’s just being unnecessarily harsh on myself. Sure, those things are contributing factors, but the real reason is that I’m a sucker for sales. A good demo makes me want to throw money at the people who made it and Steam is an excellent platform for introducing people to good demos and then providing them with an easy way to justify throwing money at it. “It’s on sale. If I buy this game, I’m only spending five dollars instead of twenty, so I should take advantage of this sale.” Never mind the fact that I don’t even really want a new game, much less need one. The whole idea of having sales works out perfectly, since it’s getting me to spend money I otherwise wouldn’t. Steam makes millions off of people like me who buy games they’ll never play and I’m sure the developers enjoy the income as well, even if it often doesn’t give them what their game is worth.
Honestly, I still plan to go through my library at some point and play all the games in it. The only problem is I choose not to do that now because I’ve got other things I’d like to do and I’m pretty certain I’ll have other things I’d like to do. I keep envisioning a future when I’m a successful writer and can write as my day job so I don’t have to cram it all into my evenings, leaving me time for stuff like regular gaming and exercise. I’d get so much more fun stuff done if I wasn’t spending all of my free time trying to work on my dreams. Which, you know, is fun, but it’s not the same kind of thing. Writing is still work and it always will be. It takes something out of me. Gaming only takes my time and, if it’s a good game, gives me so much more back. Which is why I always buy the games that look like they’ll do that for me when they go on sale. If I ever reach this hypothetical future I keeping envisioning, I want to make sure I didn’t miss out on the chance to buy a wonderful game for a bargain.
One thing I’ve learned after over a year of owning a Switch is that I’d much rather play games on a high quality mobile system than something chained down like a desktop computer. Even a laptop is more constraining that I’d like since I need a surface to put the laptop on and carrying a gaming laptop around can be a real pain in the back. If there was a way to play all of my little, low-requirement games on a mobile system, I’d probably play more of them. As more of them get re-released on the Switch, I’m starting to wish I hadn’t spent the money on them already. There isn’t much I’m willing to buy twice and anything I like enjoy to buy more than once is likely something I’m willing to sit down at my computer to play. Like Borderlands 2. I own the four-player console version and the computer version because sometimes people want to hang out together while hunting treasure and shooting bandits.
In more recent years, Steam has started edging its way into the hardware market with mixed success. I can’t deny their products are excellent in concept, it just often feels like their execution is lacking. Sure, the Steam Controller is nice, but that’s just another controller to use with your computer. Their living-room PC seemed really cool, but it seems to be suffering from a certain lack of interest from the general public. I know they dipped their toes into the Virtual Reality market, but there’s so much competition that they got lost in the crowd. The technology is still mostly in its gimmick phase, so it makes sense that there wasn’t really much Steam could add that some competitor couldn’t do better since hardware is still a side business for Steam. If they come out with a handheld or super mobile computer… then I think they might be able to break into the market. And possibly dominate it, since you’ll be able to play so many great games you’ve already bought.
Until that day, I’m probably going to change my rule to seventy-percent or more as my cut-off for buying games since I really need to slow down my acquisition rate to something I can actually keep up with. Otherwise, with how many good games are going to be going on sale soon, my Steam expenses are going to expand to fill all available space in my budget.