I used to be the kind of person who would purchase a game on release day, play it for for a little while (or not at all), and then shelve it indefinitely. This turned out to be a terrible habit as oftentimes I lost interest in my games and would sell them for far less than I originally paid. The end result was a lot of wasted time and money on my part. It got to a point where playing games often felt like something I had to do instead of something I wanted to do–just so I could feel like I was getting my money’s worth.
Eventually I had enough. About a year ago I decided to stop buying new games altogether and instead began searching online for some ideas on how to clear the games I already owned from my backlog first. This led me to a post on Reddit by a user named ruteqube. The post is an interesting read and chronicles his own journey in clearing his massive Steam library of games–I highly recommend reading through it if you have the time.
Ruteqube’s story inspired me to come up with my own set of rules for clearing my personal backlog. Though my backlog was nowhere near the size of his (he had over 500 games!) I found these rules ultimately freeing as it allowed me to focus on clearing my list so that I could finally start enjoying my hobby once again. Hopefully these guidelines help you out as they did for me, and if you have your own methods for clearing your backlog feel free to share!
- Keep a List – This one is self explanatory, and many of you probably already do this. However, I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a list of all the games on your backlog. My personal recommendation is that yours be handwritten. I say this because writing your list by hand really lends a sense of weight to how large your backlog may be. Oftentimes a long list is a good indicator that it’s probably time to get serious and start clearing games! There’s also a real sense of power and accomplishment in crossing a finished game off your list. The point here is to feel like you’re in control of your backlog–not the other way around.
- You Don’t Have to “Beat” a Game to Take it Off Your List – This was a big one for me. When I first started this quest I had it in my mind that the goal was to “beat” every game on the list–to reach every game’s end credits at the very least. However, using a website called How Long to Beat to calculate the length of the games on my list was a revelation. As the total combined hours of my list climbed I realized that it would be impossible to beat everything. This is okay! The second step to really clearing your list is to understand that it’s okay if you can’t finish a game, and to learn to let go of those games that you just can’t commit to. If you’re trying to play a game that you just aren’t into cross it off the list and walk away. You’ll feel better, trust me.
- Cross Off Any Game You’ve Already Beaten Once – This is ultimately up to you to decide, but if you’re like me chances are you have a few games on your list you want to beat that you’ve already finished once. This could be for several reasons; maybe you want to play that HD re-release of an older title for trophies/achievements, or maybe you’ve been meaning to finish that knife-only run in Resident Evil. My advice is to stop worrying about games you’ve finished already and cross them off your list. No one’s saying you can’t ever revisit these games, but it might be helpful to forget about them for now, and focus on games you haven’t finished at all yet.
- Clear the Shorter Games First – This one’s probably a no-brainer, but if you start your quest to clear your backlog with Skyrim it may feel like you’re not making any progress. My solution to this problem is to figure out how long on average each of your games are (use How Long to Beat for this) and pick the shorter ones first. This will give you a nice feeling of momentum as you begin knocking games off your list, and will let you settle in with a longer game when you feel comfortable doing so. This brings me to my last point:
- ENJOY YOURSELF – Believe it or not, but gaming should not feel like a chore. You may have lost sight of this as your mounting backlog begins to loom over you like a rain cloud, but try and remind yourself that games are meant to be fun. If you’re playing a game and you’re not having fun, feel free to cross it off your list. Move on to something that you really enjoy, and relax!
I started my quest over a year ago and had around 50 or so titles on my backlog. Today I’m still trying to clear my backlog (bonus tip: be patient) but I successfully whittled that list down to 20 games. I still buy the games I am interested in, but I no longer buy everything that’s out there. A nice side perk of working on your backlog is that you tend to get a sense of your own gaming tastes, and you learn not to spend so frivolously. Just remember; it’s okay to move on from a game you don’t like, and most importantly: have fun!
So, I actually cleared my steam backlog – [reddit.com]