The Steam Backlog Disincentive Effect

28 Nov
November 28, 2013


It’s interesting to observe how my attitudes have shifted in relation to massive Steam sales, lately. At first, I snapped up titles like a hungry alligator.

But, as I’ve accumulated a huge backlog of unplayed titles, I’ve found that very backlog to be a disincentive to taking advantage of new sales. Why buy more games when I’ve still got 30 other titles waiting for me to find the time to play them? Why spend money just to make that a backlog of 35 titles?

(It’s honestly probably a lot more than 35, I’m just too lazy to count right now. And I’d have to go through my GoG, Humble and GamersGate accounts too.)

We’ve reached the point where my ability to get through games is vastly outpaced by the rate at which I can affordably purchase them, and this counters, to some degree, that sense of pressure, of not wanting to miss out on a deal, that these time-limited sales usually generate.

Interesting to think about, how those past sales served to incentivize purchasing when they occured, but now, later on, they act as a disincentive to current purchases. The sale came at a price, for future sales. Is it a case of the present stealing from the future?

I doubt Valve are noticing any real drop-off in purchases during their sales, so it’s probably not a very strong effect. Or, at least, probably not strongly felt by many gamers. ┬áStill, I do wonder, will there eventually be a drop-off?

What do you guys think? Do you feel any disincentive from having a huge backlog of unplayed titles?

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3 replies
  1. Scotticus says:

    You’re not alone in this. I was excited to see the latest Steam sale, then kind of meh once I started looking at it. Almost all the games I would have picked up, I already had. I did pick up some DLC I was missing for Skyrim, but aside from that, not really interested since I have so many other games waiting in the wings.

    My new strategy is to keep my wish list on Steam up to date, and let them tell me when a game I’m interested is on sale.

  2. Flashback says:

    The effect is indeed there. Previously there was only one question: “Do I want this game so much that I spend X$ on it?” This autumn, looking at the each title I’m more or less interested in, I more often ask myself “Do I want to spend time playing this new game instead of that other cool game I already own?” And the answer is frequently “No, I don’t”.

  3. KrankyBoy says:

    Actually, no. I only buy games I am really interested in and when I do I mentally commit to finishing it (unless it blows) . So right now I have a few steam games installed and I am getting through them, I don’t usually look at steam sales unless something on my wishlist goes on sale. So I am not convinced all people who have the issue you describe. It likely comes down to personality type. Being a bit OCD I HAVE to play and finish games I buy, so this stops me from free-shopping.


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