Oh, the shame!

Busting the Backlog

From Steam loser to Steam hero

James Simpson
Jul 12, 2013 · 5 min read

Yesterday I admitted my secret shame of having never played a large majority of the games in my Steam library. With the Summer Sale now on, it is time to change this sad reality.

According to Wasted on Steam, I have 125 games - not counting DLC and duplicates which show up in my Steam library. I broke each playtime down by category, and here’s how my library unfolds.

42% - the biggest slice of the pie - for unplayed games. For shame!

I feel dirty just looking at it!

I know this can’t go on, and even as I continue to add to my collection, I want to start bringing down this gaming backlog in a way that is fun and sustainable.

Phase 1: Prioritize! Categorize!

Categorizing your games will help you prioritize your time.


Looking through my list, it is clear that I have bought several games that having had a taste of them, I am unlikely to play again - I’m looking at you, Robin Hood. I bought you in a sepia-tinted haze of Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines nostalgia, but time has not been kind to you. And you, Sniper: Ghost Warrior - writing your title just makes me feel like I woke up in bed next to a toothless old hag with a cigarette in her mouth. So let’s move these kind of games into a category of their own - “Forsaken”, say.


Let’s do the same for the games you’ve completed: Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Far Cry 3, Knight of the Old Republic II. I’ve completed them, tasted most of what they have to offer and maybe I’ll play them again, but for now we have bigger fish to fry.


I am sure, like me, you have games you can drop in and out of, games like Counterstrike, Kerbal Space Program and FTL. They are kind of games I play in short bursts, with short stories or no stories at all.

Multiplayer, single-player, it doesn’t really matter. Let’s face it, there is no way I’m going to spend hours grinding Surgeon Simulator 2013 - that will only end in tears. For me, this category should also include epic strategy games such as Civilization V and Crusader Kings II because there is no story to complete so I play them casually.


Here is where our real crimes against gaming must be moved to. Any game in which you haven’t logged any hours should sit in this character, a nagging reminder of your shame.

Phase 2: Get your trading cards

Trading cards give you an excuse to go back through your library.

When Steam released their new Trading Cards feature a few months ago, they gave me the impetus to get off my ass and start playing those games. The first game it brought me back to was FTL and now I’m working on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Endless Space. A further nine games are just sitting there waiting for me to start earning my cards.

Steam Trading Cards work like this: each eligible purchase comes with an allotted number of “card drops”. A “card drop” is a card you can earn simply by playing the game in question. You typically have enough card drops for half of the available cards in that set, but you will usually end up with duplicates, or as my inner 10-year old would say, “swaps”. Trade your duplicates or inventory items with your friends for more cards - or if you have no friends (AWWWW!) take a look at websites like SteamExchange or Steam Trades.

Each complete set will net you 100XP towards your Steam rank, and you will undoubtedly have had to put in a few hours in each game. Win-win!

Phase 3: Track your progress

It’s all very well pledging to shape up your Steam library, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll want support.

Steam Completionist will challenge you to make that pie chart green.

There are several sites around dedicated to helping you complete your games, but Steam Completionist is probably the most intuitive. Log-in and mark off the games you have beaten, then set some games to beat. The site will use the number of achievements to determine if you have beaten the game or not, so you will have to manually check the list, but it is a nice visual and Steam Client-integrated tool for our purposes.

Wasted on Steam will break down you games into cost per hour

If you want to keep track of how much of value you’ve gotten from your money, take a look at Wasted on Steam. This site will look at your list of games, their prices and the amount of time you have put in and output the stats necessary for you to evaluate your progress.

Now, with all these Steam tools, DLC and F2P games might not be counted, and your numbers will shift from site to site.

Finally, if you don’t mind the manual labor involved and you have a lot of non-Steam or non-PC games to play too, take a look at Backloggery. Input your games and your status and the game will give you stats and a community to help beat the backlog.

Don’t Panic

Sure, you threw your money into a black hole by committing to Steam - we all did, but it doesn’t have to end that way.

As hard-working adults, we recognize the value of our money - hell, we earned it! No game library is a lost cause if you devote some free time to experiencing what you put your hard-earned cash to.

Take a deep breath and dive in.

Game-Life Balance

A collection of reviews and features on video games by regular gamers juggling regular lives. (Image by @naosukeii)

    James Simpson

    Written by

    Ruby on Rails dev. Former contributor to War is Boring & Jane's Defence Weekly. Gamer. Kawasaki resident.

    Game-Life Balance

    A collection of reviews and features on video games by regular gamers juggling regular lives. (Image by @naosukeii)

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