Soapbox features enable our individual writers to voice their own opinions on hot topics, opinions that may not necessarily be the voice of the site. In this piece, Guides Editor Glen wonders why we're constantly asking for new games when the ones we already have offer so much...
There are two opposing sentiments that I've both uttered myself and have heard gamers express many, many times: "I can't wait until that game comes out!" and "Man, I've got a massive backlog of games that I should really work through before I buy any more games." They don't really sit comfortably next to each other, do they? It's also not really a problem shared anywhere else in our lives. We don't go looking for more food when our plates are already full.
Similarly, I recently had an argument with a friend of mine about why he's not getting a Nintendo Switch because there "Aren't enough games on it yet". When pressed, he did clarify that he meant exclusive games, but this is a guy who plays maybe one or two a year, tops. If that's all he cares about, Super Mario Odyssey and Splatoon 2 alone would keep him full until the next big first party exclusive comes along – and that's not to mention The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, of which his Wii U version has remained in its shrink-wrap since he bought it on day one. The ability to play it anywhere would be a game changer for him, but he cares more about what the Switch doesn't have instead of what it does.
I think both of these gaming attitudes are related, because we seem to have reached a point where we want more, more, more, and we haven't really stopped to consider why. Why is Pokémon Let's Go more appealing than Xenoblade Chronicles 2, which hasn't left its shrink wrap since you excitedly bought it on day one last year? Why do we consider a console that has 'more games on it' more worthy our time and money than another that offers a far better way to play when we don't even have the time to play all of the ones we want to anyway?
Another contradiction we gamers commonly express is that we miss the halcyon days where we completed Final Fantasy VII four times in a year. We really seem to have a hankering for the times when we got maybe three games per year but we played the absolute Bowsette (I'm coining the term, OK?) out of them. Granted, some of these complaints are a matter of timing – as adults, we have responsibilities to take care of now, and our spare time is more precious. But there's still no reason why we can't spend all of our gaming time scouring every nook and cranny of Hollow Knight, is there?
Instead, we're already obsessing over Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Metroid Prime 4, and the next F-Zero, which might not even end up happening. Why? Why do we value these games that we haven't played yet, which we've put on a pedestal, over games on our shelves that have rave reviews and that we also haven't played yet (or at least not played to destruction)? Also, is it genuinely more appealing to smash through several different games a month than just enjoying the scenery in Zelda? Just stop and ask yourselves these questions next time you boot up your Switch.
Before you fall into a cycle of self-loathing though, this mess really isn't your fault. That's on capitalism. Publishers and developers need this consumer drive to support their bottom lines, so all that really matters is that you buy their game. Spending time getting 100% on it? That doesn't matter – unless it's a game that's run as a service, in which case you need to remain hooked on the grind so you (hopefully!) keep spending.
To be fair, not all those working in games are like that, and it was actually Nintendo itself that made me realise the error of my ways. Each time we get a new Direct, Nintendo spends a big chunk of time highlighting free updates to games we already have. Splatoon 2, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Mario Tennis Aces, and ARMS see regular content updates that don't cost us a single penny.
And I remember wondering why. Why support a game that's a year old with new DLC that doesn't cost the end user anything? It could be cynical – a tool used by Nintendo to drive sales towards an older game – or it could be an act of appreciation towards the players. Either way, it doesn't really matter. What it did was give me pause for thought for just a second to pick up one of last year's Switch games and give it another chance. To invest in it – much like I did back when I played games as a youth.
There's something about the Switch that makes spending quality time with a game a lot more appealing, and I'm convinced that it lies in portability. When I'm sat on the couch, I'm making a conscious decision to play a game, and I generally want to stick on something that I can invest a solid chunk of time in. When I'm out and about though, this all goes out of the window. Instead, I generally just want to do something quickly – be it a dungeon in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim or a quick round of Paladins. That's something that the PS4, Xbox, or PC will never offer as comfortably as my Switch does, and it often drives me to once again invest in these games during my couch time, too.
To tie this all up, let's go back to an earlier point. No, it's not your fault that you have a greater urge to buy the shiny new thing than play an 'old' game that's sitting on your shelf. However, it is your responsibility to try and change that mindset, and the Nintendo Switch affords a far greater possibility to do so than any other console on the market. You can play it anywhere, which means you're more likely to boot up something you wouldn't normally on your TV, and the fact that Nintendo is actively reinvigorating older content will keep you coming back to those, too.
So I'd invite you all to break your habits. Crack out that shrinkwrapped copy of whatever this weekend and just play it. Or actually dive back into Breath of the Wild and finish off all of the Shrines instead of just saying you're going to. You have absolutely no excuse – the Switch can go where you go. You might just find that you stop obsessing over the next big thing because you're too busy having fun – just like the old days.
Can you relate to the sentiments expressed in this Soapbox? Have you found that the Nintendo Switch's portability has allowed you to invest more time in your favourite games? Are we just talking a load of old Bowsette?! Let us know in the comments section below!