We live in a golden age of gaming. There has literally never been more games of all shapes and sizes releasing each and every day than there is today. We take it for granted sometimes, but there’s a breakout indie to get involved with just about every week, while the games that are out there are also endlessly updated with new content and new reasons to play.
Like anything though, it’s human nature to be overcome by the choices available to us. The paradox of choice is well established, in that the greater the number of choices offered to us, the greater our indecision. It’s an effect known as choice paralysis, and it means when faced with hundreds of potential options, we often find ourselves naturally falling back on what we already know and like.
This issue is made even more complex on stores like Steam, where not only are given unparalleled choice, but it’s also becoming more difficult to pick through the games available to us. The list of best selling games is typically filled with AAA titles of one-in-a-million breakout indie hits, while the most played games are all the usual suspects we’ve been playing for years - the CSGOs, DOTAs, Minecrafts, and Rocket Leagues of this world. These are games which are consistently pushed back onto the front page due to major updates and ongoing support, providing the gift of eternal life.
And yet beneath this glossy layer, Steam is filled with hundreds of unsung heroes. Indie delights with just a few dozen reviews that never have a chance of being unearthed. Every sale I seem to get the same names appear in the storefront and my recommendations tend to bubble up a fairly similar list. The one reliable method I’ve found to discover these games is in exploring the queue, but even then it’s only surfacing games in genres it thinks you’re interested in, rather than trying to give prominence to games that fall outside of norms and genre conventions.
This isn’t a problem that’s exclusive to Steam either. Visibility is a problem on just about every platform. This includes the Switch, which has been heralded as an indie haven. The issue with having a label like that means it inevitably can’t remain an indie haven for long, as every dev and their dog looks to join in the gold rush. On a typical store update day, there are now 30-odd new games on Switch; enough to bury the last week’s releases forever, with no decent way to resurface them.
So with the same games being talked about year in, year out, the thousands of new releases, and the dominance of AAA, is it becoming more difficult for you to discover new games?