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.

The trouble is, Deathloop is TOO good.

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'll never understand the point of having "Back Log", but hey, whatever floats your boat and I honestly hope you enjoy all you play! I simply just play games I enjoy if they are out and forget about most all the others. I like the gems, not the masses, so I am picky with what I play and how much time I offer certain games and trophy involvement.
  • Totally unrelatable ... xD
    I have long given up on any pretense to manage my backlog. At least I have a wide selection of games to play whenever I want. And pretty good reason not to buy any more. Well, at least in theory ...
  • Ah the backlog. I still got PS3 games I would like to play someday and I don't even manage to get to my PS4 games.
  • my backlog is longer than my foreseeable livable future
  • @Richard Walker, I completely agree. Currently having 90+ PS4 games in my backlog, out of which 60 are small PS+ titles, around 25 are must play AAA titles. I feel compelled to try the smaller titles for at least 30 minutes. I just can't ignore them without downloading/trying them. This makes me miss out on bigger/important titles.
  • My backlog for PS4 alone is well over 1,000.

    I simply don’t sell anything anyway, so it’s piled up over time. These days I get even less time to play,

    So I just play what I want, and let the rest pile up. I’m sure I’ll eventually get around to completing a few of them
  • Hahaha yeah my backoog will be enjoyed by someone because its that out of control.
  • I've also created a large backlog of games started but never finished and having 2 kids didn't help...what helped me was never being allowed to play my PS4 due to my bloody kids always playing Minecraft. I set up my PS3 on a small hd display and started to chip away at the backlog. Got the platinum for sports champions recently. Flying through call of Juarez bound in blood at the moment...11.5 years gap in the trophies. I can't resist a old game in a charity shop either. Just bought 15 PS3 games from eBay for £15.
    I may need help!
  • i personally have a massive backlog, the sales are always good and then there is the freedbies on plus that we get. not ever gonna complain though, i'd rather have the choice of loads of games than just a few at my disposal.
  • I have a small backlog of a about 90 games and play mostly the newest releases but I can't make a dent in it even if I beat about 60 games a year, it still sits at 90 games. I've realized there's no point and just play what I enjoy :)
  • After I realized that servers shut down I stopped caring so much about completion. It's futile and time is a limited resource to all.
  • Yeah i try to get into the backlog but i just keep going into my favorite games and playing for hours. Ha. The games i enjoy the most get all my time, the rest are there for me to try and quit as soon as i get stomped.
  • My backlog is great
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