My Steam library is pretty small. And when I say small, I’m talking about 30 to 40 games here. That’s not a number to brag about or anything; I have friends who are well into a hundred, maybe even more. With such a huge list of titles, there’s no way I or any of my friends can properly sit and invest several hours into each one. We might be able to sink in a few hours, but for some of us, there aren’t enough hours in the day or months in a year. Sometimes it’s easy to be more of a collector than an actual gamer as AAAs and indie titles collect digital dust on a shelf.
It’s not just a Steam predicament. Humble Bundle, GOG, even Kickstarter for the patient gamer. Digital storefronts and software distribution services are far and plenty, and it’s never too hard to find a good deal around. On top of that, add-ons like extra copies and game soundtracks give more bang for the buck while some services hold the occasional charity drives that add the additional benefit of giving back to communities. Do good while you git gud. (I’m sorry.)
All of these sales have attributed to the list of games in my Steam library. I have to admit, if it weren’t for the discounted prices, I would have a fraction of what I have now. Maybe my parents’ frugal way of buying has somehow found their way into my shopping habits. All I know is, the low prices let me try (read: have) games I wouldn’t normally be interested in. Part of the disinterest is akin to the “pretending not to freak out at the price tag in a really nice store” phenomenon. The other part is, simply put, I don’t have to feel bad if I waste my time and money on a cheap little thing that I don’t end up liking. I can just shrug and move on to the next cheap little thing.
One of the predicaments I sometimes run into when staring into my small Alexandria of games is the crippling indecisiveness of trying to find something to play. It’s like having too many channels on TV. Everything looks so interesting that nothing looks interesting, and all of the games start to lose their appeal. To dip your toe in the proverbial game library swimming pool is a challenge when you are both a terrible swimmer and afraid of drowning. I could just be more of a casual gamer and find that some games take more effort to get into. Or, I could be in the mood for a particular kind of game, a sort of atmosphere to find myself in. But trying to find a compatible game wears thin after a while. Compelling narratives feel like a cliff to climb, especially when you have to get emotionally invested. Innovative gameplay becomes a chore or worse yet, trite. Maybe the story and soundtrack just rub you the wrong way, despite being wholly decent.
But maybe it’s not the game’s fault? Perhaps it’s the chase that excites us. Having the game in your (digital) hands, it’s like you’ve won the game already. I have to admit, every time I hit “Add to Cart” with any game that looks ever-so-slightly interesting, I get a bit of a rush. “Oh, puzzle-based speculative walking simulator? Add to Cart. A dogfighting-Gundam mashup that looks cool, but might not be my thing? What the hell. Add to Cart. Hey, there’s this game that everyone’s been playing, but I’ve already seen so much fanart about it that I’ve spoiled any plot for myself. Add to Cart. A restaurant simulator that reminds me so much of the restaurant job I already have? Add to Cart.”
And so on.
Sometimes it is more the action of buying the game than actually playing it that entices you in the first place, especially when you can’t even play it at all. (I speak from the perspective of a Mac gamer.) But there are times when those shopping frenzies do pay off. You might have to sift through your new stack of purchases for a bit before you find it, but eventually, you find it. A little charming platformer that sucks up all of your time, or you find a shooter that helps you blow off steam or a narrative-based game that pulls at your heartstrings. There’s always bound to be something there that hooks you.
Certainly, the pros outweigh the cons. Sure, digital distribution might have its pitfalls. (Lack of a resell option, for one thing.) But if anything, the only other problem I seem to be having with having too many games is not having enough hard drive space. And even then, I could just get an external hard drive and move my games there. Could I save up some money and buy a bigger hard drive instead? I would, but you never know what the next sale might have.