Game time.

I’ve run into a problem of which many people experience to a similar extent; I can’t work out what to play. For many people, this is a problem of having too many Steam games in your library and being overwhelmed. This is part of it for me, but not the main concern.

My issue is based on what some games do to encourage people to play. This is things like daily rewards, daily quests and expiring items. Here’s a list of games I play currently, that have rewards or events to claim daily, as well as games that have some other form of bait to get you to return:

  • Firefall
  • Infinity Wars
  • Loadout
  • Warframe
  • Final Fantasy XIV: Realm Reborn
  • F.E.A.R Online
  • Guild Wars 2
  • Marvel Heroes
  • Spelunky
  • Blacklight: Retribution

Now, that is not a big list. It’s only ten games after all. But when you think about it, each of these games requires you to at a bare minimum log in to do whatever it is they require. If you wanted to get everything these games offer, there’s a time investment.
Infinity Wars, Warframe, Firefall and Marvel Heroes all merely require you to log in and claim your reward, then you’re free to just log out and leave them. That takes five minutes, assuming fast loading times for each.
Then you have Loadout, which gives a bonus for the first game of the day.
Spelunky, Realm Reborn and Guild Wars 2 all have daily “challenges” or quests you can do. Spelunky is purely a challenge with a  leaderboard, but the other two are different. Being MMOs, they have daily quests that are crucial to progression if you want to “keep up” so to speak. Guild Wars 2 has a fairly unintrusive set of daily achievements which is nice, but can still take a few minutes to reach. In comparison, Realm Reborn has daily “Beast Tribe” quests and multiple daily dungeons. To make the most of these and not miss out you can be looking at an hour for Realm Reborn alone.
F.E.A.R. Online and Blacklight: Retribution follow another model. They have daily missions, AND “rented” items. Imagine you unlock a new item in your favourite game, only to discover it will only last 24 hours before it disappears. After that, you have to unlock it all over again and have it last another 24 hours. That’s how these games work. You can grind to unlock the item you want for temporary times, or buy it with real money/ingame currency that takes ages to earn. I am not begrudging them for that model, because it’s not the worst out there. However, if you want to make the most of these games and maintain them, you have to play at least a couple of matches a day.

Now I don’t know about you guys, but I spend a fair chunk of time playing video games. Some days that can be an hour, other days I can spend much more. It doesn’t matter how much though, because I have to sit there and contemplate, “Where am I going to invest my time today?” And it’s a tough choice to make without feeling like I’m letting myself down. Do I focus a chunk of time in Warframe, and ignore my daily quests in Realm Reborn? Do I play a couple of matches of Loadout, letting my items expire in F.E.A.R. Online? Do I play Ultra Street Fighter IV with my friend and essentially lose on all these games.

What I am trying to get at, in all this rambling, is it feels like far too many games utilize time-restrictive progression to encourage you to play them. When you are a broad player like myself, you want to play everything, without feeling like you’re losing, or like you have to play this particular game. I don’t feel like playing MMORPGs every day, so why should I feel like I’m falling behind or failing because I don’t play a game for a day? Or a week?
I feel like my situation is best represented by this image, from The Simpsons because they literally have a reference for everything.

tumblr_n055oh2uqq1s5tlmxo1_500

So, with all these games desperate for me to play THEM, they end up getting stuck in a little hypothetical door.
I have nothing against developers adapting this system, because it is indeed a clever way to get people to get into their game at a minimum once a day, and hopefully stay in it for a while. It helps keep player numbers up so the multiplayer will function, and increases the chance in Free To Play games of purchases being made.
However if every developer does this in an attempt to claim my time, no-one ends up getting my time.