Beat Your Backlog: Cut Your Losses

Previously in our Beat your Backlog series, we explored why more and more gamers have vast collections that they can never hope to play through, and how this abundance of choice can place a lot stress on people and make gaming less a fun and relaxing activity, and more of well, a chore.

Counter-intuitively, having more games can make gaming less fun because of how difficult it makes choosing your next game to play. Last week, we discussed our first tip for making this easier – organizing your collection to reduce the number of games you are looking at when trying to decide what to play next.

But what can we do about the rest of our games, the ones that didn’t make the “play next” cut? Will they remain in our libraries, shaming us quietly every time we launch Steam or turn on the Xbox? In this post, we will explore some strategies for culling these less appealing games from your collection to make your backlog easier to organize.


Donate or sell

One reason getting rid of games makes us feel bad is the sense that we are wasting the money we (or someone else) originally spent on them. The best way to counter this is to find another way for the games to be valuable. There are many out there who can still enjoy the physical games and unredeemed game codes floating around your collection. The easiest way to unload your games knowing that they are doing good is to donate them to AbleGamers or StackUp – organizations that will find a good home for them.

Even getting a bit of cash for your collection can be rewarding. A few years ago, I sold an old Xbox 360 together with a dozen games on Craigslist to a father buying it for his young son. It was going to be his very first console, and I was very happy to help make that happen.

Hide the unwanted

What about digital games that cannot be sold or transferred? While it’s not possible to have them bring joy to someone else, there is no reason they should be bringing you down. The first step is admitting to yourself that some of your games are better left unplayed – having them mixed in with the rest of your collection will only make it harder to stay organized and find the games you actually want to play.


Go through your collection and find a way to hide these games so they don’t distract you every time you open your launcher. In Steam, you can hide games from your library (there is a checkbox for this in the menu for setting categories). AllMyGames allows you to remove a game from your library (which also hides it), or set a “Won’t Play” state on games if you’d prefer to still see them but make them easy to filter out.

Stop finishing games you don’t like

Finally, there is another kind of game that is even harder to cut from your roster, and that’s a game that you had previously started but didn’t complete. It may be that it wasn’t for you, you grew bored of it, it’s a game without an end (hello, MMOs and MOBAs), or maybe one that you had to stop playing for some reason, and it’s impossible to come back without starting over. The psychological reason that makes it so hard for us to move on from these games is the concept of sunk cost – it’s hard to abandon something after investing time into it. Yet, gamers we’ve spoken to about dropping games are typically happy about their choice.

To make this easier to justify to yourself, you can think about what will bring you more joy – investing time in a game you no longer like, or spending it on other games you’ve been wanting to play. It can also help to update your backlog goals – instead of aiming to complete games, shoot for playing just enough to have an educated opinion about the game.

To accomplish this in practical terms, I recommend creating another category in your collection for games you’ve played but don’t intend to finish. In AllMyGames, you can use the “Abandoned” state to group these games.

Whatever your methodology, it is important to be able to let go of games you own that are no longer bringing you joy. Prune your collection often so that beating your backlog can remain a happy hobby instead of turning into a cheerless grind.

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