Top title game releases are becoming a year round event. Gone are the days when a gamer could binge at Christmas and fast through the winter, surviving on the fat of Santa’s spoils. But while the release calendar has changed my buying habits have not, and that maybe about to become a problem.
It was no secret that the traditional lull really wasn’t coming in January this year. Initially my supposition was that the large number of delayed games had simply shifted the off-season to around March. With this in mind I kept buying games. I bought Heavy Rain, Mass Effect 2 and MAG to name but a few. I ground my way through all of these, leaving aside titles from Christmas that I planned to return to later when the slump finally arrived. But my belief that the flood of releases would slow was wrong, because as March came and went, and the games kept coming.
Now I find myself sat with a pile of fantastic games that I am still itching to finish. They sit on my metaphorical coffee table, begging for attention. Yet even with this heap of games I have discovered that I continue to check new releases, unwilling to miss out on the next significant title.
Late in March it became apparent that it was getting beyond a joke. With games to review, articles to write and a life to lead, it had to stop. I had more than enough unfinished and unplayed titles to keep me going until sometime in October. Even big releases like God Of War 3 I knew I would not have time for; I could easily save myself effort and expense of buying it. I realized that once the buzz died and the price dropped I could come back to it, if I was still interested, but right now I don’t need it in my life. So I made a simple vow; no more new games until I finish the games I already own.
Even as I made this promise I add clauses. I reasoned that games applicable to my ‘Scared Gamer’ page on Game People, would have to be bought for coverage. Plus any title that may be hard to find at a later date would have to be snapped up. Sensible provisos I could argue, but the more astute reader can no doubt see them as pre-made excuses for my purchases of Metro 2033 and Deadly Premonition. Yet even with these loopholes I have already broken my promise.
In many respects my actions were almost innate, see wanted game, I buy it. As an adult there is always enough money in my wallet for any game I want (which is different statement from actually having enough money). By simply having the economic means, the chance of me weakening to an impulse purchase rise exponentially. I was coping though; since I made the oath no new games had entered my house. Technically in fact I still have not gone back on my vow, but in my heart I know the preorder for Super Street Fighter 4 sat in my wallet is not sanctioned.
My problem was that Street Fighter is something very special to me. In my youth this was a series that saw me saving for months to enable me to buy it day of release. A franchise that saw me hauling my tubby thirteen-year-old ass through Birmingham (at speeds it had rarely seen) go to Game, just to grab the latest instalment.
I could make a good many justifications to myself (some may even be convincing) to explain breaking my oath for the latest Street Fighter. Deep down I know however that, like so many others, this games will sit unwrapped for some time. My life has changed, I can no longer sit and play for hours on a Saturday with friends, and online play simply does not scratch the same itch. My time for this kind of gaming has passed, so while I can hope to one day relive it, the fact is I will be lucky to ever recapture this part of my youth even for a day.
Super Street Fighter 4 was simply the game that highlighted this problem that I, and I am sure many other committed gamers have, habitually buying games. Now as an adult I struggle to break the habit of buying games when I can, a pattern established during a time in my life when I could finish every game I could afford. As much as I try to rationalise it and excuse my purchases (‘its for review’ or ‘I have to keep up with the discussion’), I have to accept that I am now an adult with limited time. I am sure that I am not alone in having to take a long hard look at my hobby, its costs and my consumption of it, before conceding that many of my purchases are at best frivolous, and at worst wasteful, especially as the industry now appears set to feed my addiction all year round.