I find it very interesting that the format that most mobile games use is that you have to come back every day. They usually also give you a daily thing to do as well, to keep you there so that you’ll hopefully spend money on stuff that you want. Now, you likely already know that I am one of those people that like to spend money on random stuff I want in a game. So…this isn’t great.
It’s different when something is subscription based, and that’s all there is to it. Ultimately, if I cannot play for the day, that is fine. Sure, I didn’t use that one day I paid for a subscription, but I’m not going to tear myself apart for it. There are also weekly dungeons and stuff in games like World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2, or Final Fantasy XIV. But again, less pressure because it’s a weekly thing.
Games that are free like Genshin Impact or Hearthstone have dailies that they give you. And while Hearthstone’s piles up to three at a time, Genshin’s dailies are extremely important. I’ve actually decided to stop playing Genshin, which is a huge thing for me, because it has a strong cultural impact and I want to support Chinese games. They deserve better love. But all these games that want daily things done for them are starting to eat into my time. By the time I have finished all the dailies for my games, I have no free time left. That’s just it. There’s no more of the day left after I get back from work, and it’s really cutting into my single player gaming time.
Not to mention the stress of it all. Knowing that primogems from the dailies in Genshin were my only access to getting more characters, going in every day was a must. Guild Wars 2 gives you two pieces of gold and achievement points, of which the latter is harder to come by. However, both of those are still not a huge deal. They’re important, but I’m not kicking myself for missing a day or three. I think part of the stress of Genshin was that I started on Day 1 and I didn’t want to lose that streak.
And now that I’ve stopped…it’s been extremely relieving. This actually happened with Fire Emblem Heroes as well. I don’t regret any of my time in both games. I enjoyed them a lot, especially Genshin Impact. But I can’t keep up with the time I have left in my day. I spread myself thin trying to go to work, practice art, keep up with entertainment media, and do chores. I usually paraphrase the line from Bill Watterson: “There’s not enough time to do all the nothing in the world.”
I get myself so worked up about getting skins in games where I don’t play with people. I usually play solo, even in multiplayer games. I think for me it’s more of a “dress up” thing than it is presenting myself to people. This means I still care about doing the time-limited stuff. It still eats at me now, that I’m missing out on stuff in Genshin Impact and I have to push myself out of that mindset. I guess the feeling of missing out is very real. Worse even, Genshin Impact’s events also include lore and story elements, so if you miss out on that, you’ll never get to play that story.
However, I just can’t commit to this sort of binding anymore (says the person who plays Final Fantasy XIV). I think it really started eating at me when I was looking at my subscriptions for streaming services and realizing how unsustainable it was getting. I’m not “financially successful”, so I probably shouldn’t be writing about video games or something. I’m starting to cut down on streaming services and other subscriptions because I can’t afford it anymore. It goes both ways. In a way, subscriptions really aren’t that much money. Like, an hour’s worth of work, but many subscriptions start piling quick. Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Discovery+, HBOMax, Humble Bundle, World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XIV, and so many other possibilities almost without notice. It ends up becoming several days worth of work. I don’t have all those, thank goodness, but look how fast it happens. And don’t forget the subscription to life, like food and other monthly paid services. Even if some streaming services are shared in a group it still is so much money in the long run.
It really is that feeling that I might not have the means to play catch up and be with the crowd, but I also would like to not be homeless. Also, ironically, all this talk about subscription and demanded time makes me realize mobile games really should not be isolated for this. Many games are like this and we should stop stigmatizing that only to mobile/free-to-play games. I always mention how we should be healthy about our approach to video games and life, and yet here I was slaving away my time. I’m glad I noticed, because the stress relief has been very helpful during a stressful time outside of video gaming. Playing what I want to play has been so cathartic, and it makes me wonder what other underlying stress comes from me restricting myself.
I feel like all this focus on fomo really diverts people’s gaming away from fun. Fun almost always requires that you’re not worried about time and meta-efficiency. Until time begins its stretch into the eternities, we mortals have to make sure that we’re not burying ourselves in the chains that we believed bound us to our passions.
Stay safe out there, I’ll see you next time!