Taking a Break From Endless Games

Last month was pretty crummy for me, gamewise, but after writing my recap I decided to try to make an effort to find time for gaming. I picked a handful of games and put ’em in my ‘rotation’. I’m doing that possibly neurotic thing where, when I can’t decide what to play, I use a random number generator to pick one of these games.

And it has been working pretty well. Many nights I can only squeeze in an hour or so but still I have one spot in my day that is just for me and just for fun, and jumping between games means stuff keeps feeling fresh, but there’s generally not enough days between sessions with a particular game that I forget how to play or what I was doing. With the random pick thing I don’t spend my limited time fretting about what to play, which is sometimes an issue for me. My plan was working well!

Then a couple of things happened. First was that Final Fantasy XIV had a free login period for people with lapsed accounts. I patched it up, jumped in and started re-learning how to play. I was having fun and started kicking around the idea of re-subscribing. Then I thought of the games I’ve been playing and wondered how I’d fit FFXIV in with them. I could throw it into the rotation as well but did I want to pay $15/month to play maybe once a week for an hour or two? Probably not, so I back-burnered FFXIV.

Then shortly after that, Genshin Impact (a game I’ve pumped over 300 hours into) rolled out the big update 4.0 and I was really tempted to go back to that, too. I wouldn’t have to pay anything so I could stick it into the rotation and not feel bad about the days I wasn’t playing it.

The more I thought about it, though, the less excited I was about it. I already have 5 games I’m jumping between, which is probably 1 or 2 too many. But the idea is I’ll finish a couple and not add more in and so start to increase my pacing through the remainder. But Genshin would never end. Well no time in the foreseeable future anyway. I suppose eventually it will shut down.

I have SO MANY games in my backlog. And I mean so many installed games waiting to be played. My Xbox has 4 TB of storage and it’s full, and the PS5 has 3 TB and it is getting on towards full. That’s not to mention all the games in my libraries that aren’t installed, all the games on Game Pass and Playstation Pass, and then stuff on Steam. SO MANY GAMES and most of them are games I want to play (Update: This is definitely not a case of feeling obligated to clear out the old backlog…based on a few of the comments below I don’t think I initially made that clear enough). I don’t buy a lot of bundles where you end up with games that just came along with the game you bought the bundle for. Y’know those games that you’re not really interested in but they’re in your library just the same. So (setting aside the Game Pass and PS+ titles) the games I have are mostly games I really want to play.

Realistically I’ll never get to them all. I’m old enough where if I dropped dead tomorrow folks would say “Oh, that’s too bad.” and not “OMG what a tragedy, he was so young!” I dunno how much gaming time I have left.

But I’d like to start putting some effort into playing these games I want to play, and the only plausible way to do that is to stop playing these ‘live service’ games that by design don’t end. Or if I do play them, play them with a finishable goal in mind (eg “Get a character to level cap” or “Finish the main story.”). For example one of the games in my rotation is Redfall which is intended to be some kind of live service/endless game, I think. But my plan is to take 1 character through the main story and then consider it Game Over.

I realize I’m swimming against the current here and publishers think “live service” endless games are the way to go, but again my backlog is huge enough I don’t need any new games. I’ll cherry pick the best of the best, like everyone is loving Baldur’s Gate 3 right now. Maybe Starfield will be worth adding into the mix. But I’m not buying many new games these days.

I am just really anticipating the day I start seeing end credits roll and feeling that sense of accomplishment for getting through to the end.



9 thoughts on “Taking a Break From Endless Games

  1. I’m still buying things, don’t get me wrong, but like you I’m starting to be more interested in finishing things than I used to be. Whether that means actual credit rolls or just hitting my personal goal or satisfaction threshold I’m not sure, but *something*.

    1. Wow I’ve never had a comment on a blog post show up so quickly before! 🙂

      I really love that dopamine hit of “The End” appearing, particularly on longer games. Then you can watch the credits for 2 hours to give your heart a chance to stop beating so quickly. 🙂

  2. I think it has a lot to do with whether you see games as finite entities like novels or movies or activities like walking or gardening. Also, whether you see them as an obligation or a resource.

    For me it’s very much the latter. Endless games exist to be played if and when I feel like playing them. If I don’t, they won’t care and neither should I. Backlogs of games I’ve acquired exist to be used as I choose, including not at all. I don’t have to justify having bought a game by actually playing it. I made the decision to buy at a time now past and I have no obligations to the me who made that choice. I’m a different me now and I’ll make my own, new choices.

    I agree with backing off from games that begin to feel like duties. If it’s not fun, don’t do it is a dangerous motto for living a life but a flawless plan for playing games. Just so long as you don’t then get trapped into an endless search for better fun, of course…

    1. I think you and Naithin are missing my point, to some extent. I don’t see my backlog as an obligation. I’m not going to play something I don’t want to play just because it is something I bought. These are games I WANT to play. Worlds that seem intriguing to me and that are just waiting for me to come and explore. Maybe I should’ve put more emphasis on that part. I’m going to go back and bold that part! 🙂

      FFXIV is a little different because its $15 each month and I don’t want to spend that money and not get any value from it. But even for free endless games, it is easy for me to get sucked into “having” to log in to do the dailies and stuff, and doing that can eat a significant part of my gaming time each evening. Of my 300 hours in Genshin Impact I bet 200 of them were from logging in to do the dailies and weeklies to keep the battle pass and rewards maxed out.

      I mean this is just me. For instance I have no interest (these days) in ‘match-based’ games where you do the same thing over and over to get better at it. Like a Street Fighter, a chess game or even a PvP shooter. I like the sense of exploration I get from games, whether it is exploring a virtual world or new systems and loops.

  3. Going through some shorter games (less than 10 hours to complete, in my book) can be a *really*, **really** good palate cleanser I find. Stray Gods is fulfilling that role for me right now, and I don’t think I would hesitate in recommending it to you as well, aside from the whole desire to get through what you have rather than adding to it thing. xD

    But generally, I agree with Bhagpuss’ outlook on things here. Backlogs are there to be used as you see fit. A resource to delve rather than a job to be done.

    Of course, I would say that, because in Steam alone I have 719 completely unplayed games. xD (Although in my defense, some not insignificant proportion of those will be from bundles at the like.)

    1. See my reply to Bhagpuss, but I apologize if I’ve mis-communicated to the extent where I gave the impression that I somehow feel obligated to clear out the backlog. Not the case at all. These are games I really want to play.

      And none of my current rotation are palate cleansers! One is AC Valhalla which I’m already past the 200 hour mark in. The others are The Witcher 3, Personal 4 Golden, Redfall and Final Fantasy XVI. Not sure how long these last 2 are; I’m guessing of them all Redfall will be the shortest in terms of how much time I put into it. But now I’ve spoiled my August recap!!!! 🙂

      1. Have you played Persona 5 already as well, or are you playing them in the ‘right’ order? xD

        I’m wondering how the two compare. Not that I’ve finished 5 yet. I’m pretty sure I will go back and do it, too… But… Maybe not? It has been a while now after all. xD

        1. I haven’t played 5 yet. I may have started it at one point. But this time around I first started on Persona 3 but just after I did the re-master/re-make was announced. Since I’d JUST started I decided to put that on hold (it was pretty dated looking) & come back to it when the remaster is out. So I moved on to Persona 4.

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