I’m Addicted to Buying Game Keys, But I’m Only Playing Myself

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I think I have a problem. No, really.

I might need some more screens if I’m gonna play all of these.

Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

It’s quarter-past midnight on a Monday and I just activated some keys on Steam. No biggie – this is quite a normal time for furloughed gamers to be knocking about. The issue is that I bought games that I know I shouldn’t have, but felt compelled to because I found a deal.

Dealy McDealington is the Hottest Gal in Town

Oh my, the common deal or discount is quite the temptress. As soon as I see a chunky percentage off or a usual price that is much higher, I feel pressure to add things to my basket and checkout as soon as possible. I don’t want to miss out and kick myself for years to come. Clearly, I suffer from FOMO, but I’m working on it… I think.

But being on a low salary means I have to keep to a strict budget. I budget for extras like snacks and sometimes games, but deals don’t care about payday or how much money I have left. They pop-up whenever they feel like it. Nasty little critters, but I love them so.

Smart Money? Sorry, I only have Dumb Money

Growing up, I was always taught to save as much money as possible, especially when buying things that weren’t necessary, like games or a new dress. Because my mother is an avid deal hunter and super-saver, I have also picked up those traits, for better or worse.

Finding a deal on something you need and stopping there is completely fine. The problem comes when you see deals out of nowhere and decide to take them up even though you haven’t budgeted for them.

I find myself scribbling little calculations on scraps of paper, making sure that I still have a few pounds to do xyz for the month. If I do, that’s all good – even though I might be left with just a fiver until payday.

These aren’t smart money techniques like my mother employs. These are impulsive behaviours; spurred on by my compulsive need to keep checking for discounts, that have manifested into a shopping addiction. I wish I bought clothes instead sometimes. At least I could look cute while I try to wade my way through the hundreds of games I’ve accumulated on platforms like Steam, Epic Games and GOG.

When Love Turns into Obsession

I also love freebies more than I love the sun. IndieGala keeps coming out with new games for free from indie developers and I keep adding them to my hard drive to “play later”. Who doesn’t like free things? It’s polite to accept things that are given to you, no? Even if they have the potential to fill your entire hard drive, thus stopping you from being able to install the games anyway.

I just keep adding and adding. Buying and buying. I find myself looking at Indie Game Bundles everyday looking for new freebies and deals. Once I see a sale email from Steam or another platform, I immediately go and see which games I can get now and which have to wait until next time.

I check for new Humble Bundles all the time. I’ve even discovered more vendors online that sell Steam and GOG keys for pennies. Sometimes, I spend hours watching trailers for games I wouldn’t have otherwise cared about if I wasn’t prompted about a sale or a new release. I even caught myself about to buy a key for a game I already own just because it was on sale. Maybe I need a nice spreadsheet to tell me which games I own before I make the same mistake again.

No Spaghetti, Only Regretti

Temptation is literally everywhere I look. If I miss out, I’ll feel so much regret. And regret is not a good feeling at all.

I hold stuff against myself for years, allowing it to eat away at me and break me down. If I manage to collect a game I have been after for so long, I feel pure satisfaction and utter jubilation. I feel as though I have succeeded at something great. A small insignificant win to the world, but a world of positivity and splendour for me.

F****** hell, I sound like a lunatic!

What’s worse is that I’ve barely played any of the games I own. Before, my excuse was weak and outdated hardware. Now that I have a half-way decent computer, there isn’t much of a reason why I wouldn’t be playing everything all the time. The problem now is that I find it tedious to pick something to play because there is so much content I have access to.

I’m afraid of wasting time on one title and missing out on the fun of another. Maybe it’s my ever-present existential crisis, making me feel like my life is going to end sooner than I think. Or my low self-esteem spawning negative thoughts about how I don’t deserve to enjoy anything in life. It could equally be because I’m stupid, who knows?

Putting Things In a Non-Isometric Perspective

Am I throwing away the potential of a financially secure future by feeding this habit? Or am I blowing things out of proportion? Can I beat this addiction?

I calculated how much I spent on games in May alone and how many titles I now own. I will exclude free to play games or ones that I claimed for free, or else we’ll be here all day.

DateVendorNumber of GamesAmount Spent
17/05/21Humble Bundle22£17.50
24/05/21IndieGala2 (+5 DLC)£6.26
25/05/21Humble Bundle13£4.44
TOTALS45 games£47.84
A crudely made table displaying the cost-effectiveness of my game collecting addiction in May 2021.

As we can see, I’ve spent almost £50 this month. £50 is not a small sum of money to spend monthly on games. It’s rare that people in my position are ever willing to spend that much on a phone contract, let alone a recreational hobby.

I could justify the cost by dividing the total amount spent by the number of games purchased. Each game would then cost about £1.06, which is really cheap and actually makes this seem like a bargain. But bargains are only great if you can afford them. I have taken money out of my savings to pay for some of the games I own. And it was all in the name of saving money – how ironic.

I would need to gather more data and compare expenditure from previous months, but I think it’s safe to say this is a huge issue.

Solution to Puzzle No. 96

Maybe I should try my best to stay away from the sites I frequent, but that would induce so much FOMO I may explode, and leave a terrible mess for someone to clean up.

The alternative is for me to still look at the Indie Game Bundles “Free Games” page and leave it at that. I should unsubscribe from mailing lists from Humble Bundle, Fanatical and other sites to reduce the pressure on me to purchase rather than wait. I think it’s OK to have a little obsession, but if it is impacting my judgement when it comes to financial decisions, maybe I need to make some drastic changes to get myself back on track.

Although this addiction has been 6 years in the making, I still have the chance to turn this around (and save my purse from threats of starvation every month). All of this effort might help me to save a bit of money and maybe buy myself some of the clothes I desperately need. Or will that become a new addiction of mine?

EDIT (04/06/2021): I managed to spend a further £10.48 on 13 games before the month of May was officially over. So now the total for May is £58.32 for 58 games, working out to about £1.01 per game. Unbelieveable!


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By Ade

An aspiring creator in way too many areas, Ade loves to try something new, as long as it doesn't interfere with the balance of the universe too much. Trying to take each day as it comes, Ade edits videos for YouTube, occasionally records podcasts, and writes with strange mannerisms to entertain the world.