55 votes

Steam users have spent $19 billion on games they’ve never played

40 comments

  1. [5]
    kfwyre
    (edited )
    Link
    Oh hey, it's me! I'm admittely a "whale" who treats individual games as DLC for the larger meta game known as "Steam". I am probably singlehandedly skewing the average. I'm at peace with it...
    • Exemplary

    Oh hey, it's me!

    I'm admittely a "whale" who treats individual games as DLC for the larger meta game known as "Steam". I am probably singlehandedly skewing the average.

    I'm at peace with it though. My backlog used to stress me out, and I actually made a herculean effort to try out everything in it (and I did!). It helped me see that I was treating games as obligations and as things I felt like I needed to "extract value" out of. Like, I paid money for a given game, and, if I didn't get enjoyment back out of it, I was somehow in the wrong?

    It does make a sort of sense, but it also turned my entertainment library into something that felt transactional. I didn't like that vibe, so I broke with that and now see my library as a big pool of opportunity. If I don't play something? Doesn't matter! The games are there because they can be enjoyed if I want, not because they should be. This lack of attachment is genuinely freeing (believe me when I say I know how tight the grasp of a backlog can feel).

    When I wanted something new to read, I used to go to book stores and browse the shelves to find a random book, in the moment, that looked interesting. I now do this with my own Steam library. What do I want to play today? Let's meander through the various titles and see what piques my interest. Also, doing deep dives for stuff (like the Backlog Burner) its own form of meta fun.

    Of course, this justifies the existence of my backlog, but not my continued habit of buying even more games. Why do I do that? When I have more than I'll ever play?

    Ultimately, I think it's because collecting is fun. Also, I feel like this is a pretty ethical way of doing it. Unlike aggregating physical items, I'm not creating a bunch of waste or hoarding things from other people. I'm funding creatives working in an industry that makes stuff I love. I also have relatively few vices, so instead of dropping $50 at the bar on a Friday night, I can buy a bundle or some titles on steep discount.

    There are far worse things in the world that I could be spending my money on, and there are far greater things to worry about than unplayed games.

    So even though I already have plenty to play, I'm also excited for the upcoming Summer Sale. It's like a new season of Steam and I, like always, will be buying the battle pass!

    51 votes
    1. [3]
      Boojum
      Link Parent
      I think of my Steam games collection as a bit like my book collection. I think Robertson Davies put it well in his novel Tempest-Tost (emphasis mine):

      I think of my Steam games collection as a bit like my book collection. I think Robertson Davies put it well in his novel Tempest-Tost (emphasis mine):

      She herself was a victim of that lust for books which rages in the breast like a demon, and which cannot be stilled save by the frequent and plentiful acquisition of books. This passion is more common, and more powerful, than most people suppose. Book lovers are thought by unbookish people to be gentle and unworldly, and perhaps a few of them are so. But there are others who will lie and scheme and steal to get books as wildly and unconscionably as the dope-taker in pursuit of his drug. They may not want the books to read immediately, or at all; they want them to possess, to range on their shelves, to have at command.

      30 votes
      1. chocobean
        Link Parent
        Oof, guilty. I used to be a reading-lover and a gaming-lover. These days I'm much more of a book and game lover, sadly.

        Oof, guilty. I used to be a reading-lover and a gaming-lover. These days I'm much more of a book and game lover, sadly.

        8 votes
      2. MimicSquid
        Link Parent
        I'm not sure I've ever felt so seen.

        I'm not sure I've ever felt so seen.

        9 votes
    2. chocobean
      Link Parent
      So in a way your game buying dollars are like putting money in tip jars or supporting buskers? That's kind of cool and thank you for supporting the industry. Like Gacha games, many indies only...

      So in a way your game buying dollars are like putting money in tip jars or supporting buskers? That's kind of cool and thank you for supporting the industry. Like Gacha games, many indies only exist because of whales like yourselves

      4 votes
  2. [3]
    NonoAdomo
    Link
    Let the person who has played all the video games they have ever purchased cast the first stone. I have long since stopped buying games on a whim completely for this reason. I need to intend to...

    Let the person who has played all the video games they have ever purchased cast the first stone.

    I have long since stopped buying games on a whim completely for this reason. I need to intend to play the game immediately or I know i will never actually play it. Funny how the human brain works like that.

    72 votes
    1. TheRTV
      Link Parent
      I guess that's me lol. I would rather buy a game at full price that I know I'll play. I would consider it a waste to buy games that I most likely would never play. Instead I make a list of games...

      I guess that's me lol.

      I would rather buy a game at full price that I know I'll play. I would consider it a waste to buy games that I most likely would never play. Instead I make a list of games to buy later that caught my interest. So if it turns out that the game sucks, I can take it off the list. Conversely, a game on the list may be on discount later.

      In my small library, the only games I haven't beaten or played a lot are the ones I got for free. Exception being Homeworld because I didn't like it and it was too late for a refund.

      That being said, I don't judge people who do have huge libraries. It's just not my thing

      16 votes
    2. Gesspar
      Link Parent
      It took me 2 years and 3 install-uninstall cycles before I actually played Doom (2016)... I think I've listened to the soundtrack for 10x longer than my played hours though.

      It took me 2 years and 3 install-uninstall cycles before I actually played Doom (2016)... I think I've listened to the soundtrack for 10x longer than my played hours though.

      6 votes
  3. [7]
    vord
    (edited )
    Link
    That number shot down drasticly for me once I stopped subscribing/buying bundles. A good example for me was some old bundle that had 30 games for $2, and I only cared about 2 of them. Also, at...

    That number shot down drasticly for me once I stopped subscribing/buying bundles.

    A good example for me was some old bundle that had 30 games for $2, and I only cared about 2 of them.

    Also, at least some small part of me is paying it forward from the years of game piracy 20 something years ago.

    Edit: I'm also pretty sure they're just saying based off MSRP. I have several titles with an MSRP of $40 or $60, paid with the low, low cost of clicking 'add to library' at the right time for $0. Like for the next 6 days Tell Me Why is free. Is literally anybody in this thread not going to click that button?

    27 votes
    1. [5]
      Perryapsis
      Link Parent
      Is there a tracker for "literally free to claim and keep" games on Steam? I may as well start claiming them like I do with Playstation Plus games...

      Is there a tracker for "literally free to claim and keep" games on Steam? I may as well start claiming them like I do with Playstation Plus games...

      8 votes
      1. Rudism
        Link Parent
        I've scored a handful of free games by following the Free Games Finders Steam community. They post free game offers not just on Steam but also from Gog and Epic (only paid games that go free for a...

        I've scored a handful of free games by following the Free Games Finders Steam community. They post free game offers not just on Steam but also from Gog and Epic (only paid games that go free for a limited time, I've never seen a free-to-play game pop up on there). I follow their RSS feed in my reader (which I check every morning) so I can hop on any one-day-only offers that pop up before they expire.

        9 votes
      2. chocobean
        Link Parent
        And one which excludes free to play games would be fantastic

        And one which excludes free to play games would be fantastic

        4 votes
      3. [2]
        vord
        Link Parent
        As always SteamDB delivers! (@chocobean since you expressed interest as well). Its been quite awhile since I really used it, but IIRC IsThereAnyDeal has some robust filtering as well.

        As always SteamDB delivers! (@chocobean since you expressed interest as well).

        Its been quite awhile since I really used it, but IIRC IsThereAnyDeal has some robust filtering as well.

        3 votes
    2. lou
      Link Parent
      That is absolutely not my kind of game. Downloading.

      Tell Me Why is the latest narrative adventure game from DONTNOD Entertainment, the studio behind the beloved franchise, Life is Strange

      That is absolutely not my kind of game.

      Downloading.

      11 votes
  4. [11]
    DarthYoshiBoy
    Link
    Those games are my retirement. As in, when/if I retire, I'll finally have time to dive into the backlog. That said, SteamDB says I've played 23% of my ~1750 games and hours played vs money spent...

    Those games are my retirement.

    As in, when/if I retire, I'll finally have time to dive into the backlog.

    That said, SteamDB says I've played 23% of my ~1750 games and hours played vs money spent says I've already gotten $1.34 per hour out of my purchases, so I think I'm doing alright.

    22 votes
    1. [7]
      psi
      Link Parent
      That's an impressive number of games! I thought I had too many (a bit over 650 with almost a third played, amounting to $1.15/hr in entertainment). I'd be curious to see who can beat (1) your...

      That's an impressive number of games! I thought I had too many (a bit over 650 with almost a third played, amounting to $1.15/hr in entertainment).

      I'd be curious to see who can beat (1) your record for the most games or (2) my record for value per hour.

      6 votes
      1. Hobofarmer
        Link Parent
        With 457 games, and having played 375 of them, SteamDB says I'm at $0.13/hr. Both your collections are pretty respectable! I don't often see folks that top my number of games owned.

        With 457 games, and having played 375 of them, SteamDB says I'm at $0.13/hr.

        Both your collections are pretty respectable! I don't often see folks that top my number of games owned.

        6 votes
      2. Gummy
        Link Parent
        I'm sitting at 245 out of 609 games played and $0.24/hr. That's honestly a lot better than I thought it would be. Thousands of hours of Path of Exile may be skewing those numbers though.

        I'm sitting at 245 out of 609 games played and $0.24/hr. That's honestly a lot better than I thought it would be. Thousands of hours of Path of Exile may be skewing those numbers though.

        4 votes
      3. [3]
        Sodliddesu
        Link Parent
        Do I want to admit to beating any of those metrics? 47% of 2,540 games played for a price per hour of $0.72 USD. I'm currently working through the Yakuza series and Fire Emblem on my Switch (have...

        Do I want to admit to beating any of those metrics?

        47% of 2,540 games played for a price per hour of $0.72 USD.

        I'm currently working through the Yakuza series and Fire Emblem on my Switch (have to beat that one before I can move on to the Persona series.)

        2 votes
        1. [2]
          fifthecho
          Link Parent
          Impressive. Usually, my 2,495 games usually wins any competition. I've only played 28% though, so you definitely beat me there too.

          Impressive. Usually, my 2,495 games usually wins any competition. I've only played 28% though, so you definitely beat me there too.

          2 votes
          1. Sodliddesu
            Link Parent
            The impressive just makes me think we're going to ask to look at Paul Allen's Steam profile next.

            The impressive just makes me think we're going to ask to look at Paul Allen's Steam profile next.

            1 vote
      4. Cannonball
        Link Parent
        SteamDB has me at $0.11 per hour but I'm on the opposite end of too many games (14 played out of 22 owned). Lots of hours sunk into a handful of games

        SteamDB has me at $0.11 per hour but I'm on the opposite end of too many games (14 played out of 22 owned). Lots of hours sunk into a handful of games

        1 vote
    2. [2]
      lou
      Link Parent
      You know they'll still release new games after you retire, right? :P

      As in, when/if I retire, I'll finally have time to dive into the backlog.

      You know they'll still release new games after you retire, right? :P

      4 votes
      1. DarthYoshiBoy
        Link Parent
        WHAT?!?!? WHY DID NOBODY EVER TELL ME THIS? /s Seriously though. I'm planning on it. The Steam backlist isn't as bad as it seems since some of those unplayed Steam games are actually already...

        WHAT?!?!? WHY DID NOBODY EVER TELL ME THIS? /s

        Seriously though. I'm planning on it. The Steam backlist isn't as bad as it seems since some of those unplayed Steam games are actually already played Switch/PS5 games that I just wanted to be able to send more money towards games I loved. I manage to get through a decent amount of games already raising 3 kids and holding down a full time job, so I expect that when/if those start to slow down, the games will dry up pretty quick if there aren't new ones going into the stack.

        4 votes
    3. Mountain-View5322
      Link Parent
      I'm at 64% of 191 games played at $0.10 per hour, 8,586 hours. Ridiculous. 😆

      I'm at 64% of 191 games played at $0.10 per hour, 8,586 hours. Ridiculous. 😆

  5. Minori
    Link
    Bundles are the thing that gets me. I've bought a few bundles that I was completely certain I'd play...only to play one game and abandon the series. Clannad, Bioshock Infinite, etc. Even if the...

    Bundles are the thing that gets me. I've bought a few bundles that I was completely certain I'd play...only to play one game and abandon the series. Clannad, Bioshock Infinite, etc. Even if the discount is good, I avoid them now.

    17 votes
  6. phoenixrises
    Link
    So as one of the main contributors to the Save Points thread here, I'm... very guilty of this. Thought it was a very funny stat though.

    So as one of the main contributors to the Save Points thread here, I'm... very guilty of this. Thought it was a very funny stat though.

    15 votes
  7. [5]
    Raspcoffee
    Link
    Nothing new if you ask me. People also have lots of books they've never read.

    Nothing new if you ask me. People also have lots of books they've never read.

    11 votes
    1. [3]
      gingerbeardman
      Link Parent
      And lots of tools they'll never use. But when the day comes and you can immediately pluck the tool/album/book/game to suit the mood, it all makes sense.

      And lots of tools they'll never use. But when the day comes and you can immediately pluck the tool/album/book/game to suit the mood, it all makes sense.

      10 votes
      1. [2]
        Omnicrola
        Link Parent
        It is hard to describe that feeling, but it is amazing and addictive. My penultimate personal example of this is a cookie. I like to cook, to craft, and to tinker. I have a 3D printer, I know how...

        It is hard to describe that feeling, but it is amazing and addictive. My penultimate personal example of this is a cookie.

        I like to cook, to craft, and to tinker. I have a 3D printer, I know how to bake, and have various other skills. So one day in the Factorio subreddit a meme appeared. The emotion that occured in that moment was an intense joy, a growing sense of excitement, an overwhelming feeling of self-confidence and competence all rolled into one.
        I had an idea, and possessed all the materials and ingredients, and the necessary skills to manifest that idea immediately and without hesitation

        So I manifested it in less than 12 hours

        11 votes
        1. chocobean
          Link Parent
          It took me an unreasonably high number of seconds before I understood the meme. what a wonderful and delicious fan art!! the frosting would be super clean if piped in, but it honestly doesn't...

          It took me an unreasonably high number of seconds before I understood the meme. what a wonderful and delicious fan art!! the frosting would be super clean if piped in, but it honestly doesn't matter, because the cookies are beautiful.

          comment from the thread: "Now your next job is to automate the production of said Fact-oreos "

          that's how Cookie Clicker begins aint it?

          4 votes
    2. skybrian
      Link Parent
      I've solved this by downloading the Kindle sample. I never buy a book until I read to the end of the sample. (It doesn't mean I finished it, but at least I started it.)

      I've solved this by downloading the Kindle sample. I never buy a book until I read to the end of the sample. (It doesn't mean I finished it, but at least I started it.)

      2 votes
  8. nul
    Link
    Yeah. I have a few games (less than 5) that h haven’t even opened yet for consoles. And on Steam, most games I own I’ve never played. I’ve stopped buying new games because of this and money has...

    Yeah. I have a few games (less than 5) that h haven’t even opened yet for consoles. And on Steam, most games I own I’ve never played. I’ve stopped buying new games because of this and money has been tight.

    7 votes
  9. Pavouk106
    Link
    When I bought Switch Lite I swore to myself that I will play one big game at a time. I will play to finish before going into another one. I have bought some games for the platform and I did that...

    When I bought Switch Lite I swore to myself that I will play one big game at a time. I will play to finish before going into another one. I have bought some games for the platform and I did that with every big game - Zelda, Assassin's Creed 4, Witcher 3, Pokemon, Wasteland 2, ... I bought some small games as well and used them when I was fed up with the big game I was currently playing (ie. Witcher 3 is wonderful game but sooooo long... I had to play something on the side just to get some rest).

    This mentality remained when I bought Steam Deck. More so - finally I had the device to get rid of my looooong list of games I want to play yet don't have time to sit in front of my PC to do that. I own Steam Deck for two years now and I have finished so many games in that time! Games where you have to put 50+ hours in to get somehwere with probably Oblivion leading at 206 hours of gameplay - actually the very first time since the game's launch I put all the hours the game needs to be fully enjoyed. I have finished Horizon Zero Dawn twice in one year on Steam Deck (this is big deal, I haven't played and finished one game twice in a year since probably around 2000), I did my Stardew Valley run, Borderlands 1, Divinity: Original Sin (the second one is still in the queue), Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 1&2...

    What did I want to say? Ahhh... Yet still I buy new games :-) I tend to not do that much though. Horizon Forbidden West is now at a discount and I have almost went for it but two things stopped me - not enough optimization (yet?) and other games I want to play - after I finish Witcher 3 again, this time on PC (Steam Deck).

    You have to switch to this state of thinking - you buy the game to play it, then play it! You play something and another game gets in the spotlight, ignore it (for time being). I do this for the last four years and these years are the most productive gaming years in my life (except high school years - I played all the time back then). Not productive as in "getting rid of backlog", but actually enjoying AND finishing the games (which is the same on paper, but is very different in my head).

    EDIT: I guess my Steam Replay says it the best - 74 games is not right though, around 50 of those were trials of how the game runs on Steam Deck. The Steam Deck made this possible for me, it is the sole reason how I could have afforded 84 days streak.

    4 votes
  10. PossiblyBipedal
    Link
    I too am guilty of this. I keep buying thinking I really want to play. But I get busy or tired and end up not playing it. What's worse is that sometimes when I do feel like playing for a bit, I...

    I too am guilty of this. I keep buying thinking I really want to play. But I get busy or tired and end up not playing it.

    What's worse is that sometimes when I do feel like playing for a bit, I default to playing games I've already played. Sometimes you're too tired to think too hard and want some entertainment.

    But, I see it as giving support to the developers anyway. I buy a fair bit of random indie games. I guess it's like a donation at this point.

    Also, sometimes I buy a game and then end up watching someone else play it online. I guess that's relatively fair.

    Another justification for it is that the only reason I got into games was because I pirated a lot of games as a kid. My parents couldn't afford games and the pc we had was built with spare parts and given to us by a relative.

    As an adult who now has to time to play, I see it as payback for all the games I didn't pay for as a kid.

    I know it's dumb because the money doesn't go to the developers who made the games I played in the past. But yea, I like thinking of it that way.

    4 votes
  11. ButteredToast
    Link
    In my case, even though I've had a Steam account for the past 15 years or so, it didn't have too many games attached to it until pretty recently (past couple of years). The number really started...

    In my case, even though I've had a Steam account for the past 15 years or so, it didn't have too many games attached to it until pretty recently (past couple of years). The number really started ticking up after suddenly gaining clarity and motivation to do more with my time.

    The problem is that playing through all the games I'd heard about over the years is just a single item on my list of things to do and at least for now the other things (finishing degree online, improving my skills as an artist, getting in a little physical activity, etc) tend to win out because there are only so many hours in a day and only so much that a person can do without burning out. I have managed to clear a couple games though, so working through the backlog is happening slowly but surely.

    3 votes
  12. BeardyHat
    Link
    I'm more judicious than I used to be, tending to only buy games when I'll play them immediately. Some sales do so get ahold of me, but in the past couple of months, having bought something like 10...

    I'm more judicious than I used to be, tending to only buy games when I'll play them immediately. Some sales do so get ahold of me, but in the past couple of months, having bought something like 10 games or so, only 2 I bought because they were cheap and I don't have any intention to play them immediately.

    That says, my game library is a library not a backlog, not a pile of shame. When I get a bug to play something in particular, I'll look through my library and find something that sounds interesting to me; I'm not obligated to play everything, but it's a big collection to peruse for when I'm looking for a particular experience.

    3 votes
  13. elight
    Link
    Cool! Now do unread Amazon Kindle books! 😂

    Cool! Now do unread Amazon Kindle books! 😂

    1 vote
  14. Fin
    Link
    guilty as charged

    guilty as charged

    1 vote