This was a very atypical year for me, as far as how I played games. So, of course, this is also the first year that Steam dropped their end of the year replay wrap up! While it’s not 100% representative of how I spent my gaming time, at least quantity-wise, I do play most game via Steam. This year, because of the Just One Percent Project, I might have branched out a bit more, playing a handful of titles on Itch.io*, through XBox Game Pass for PC, and even a handful on the Epic launcher and on Utomik. So while the numbers don’t quite reflect everything, it looks kind of like how I felt to play – which is to say, a bit chaotic.
*I really would like to play more of the stuff that I have picked up on Itch.io, but those games tend to be a casualty of the size of my Steam library and the fact that when I don’t know what to play, Steam is always my first stop.
Just on Steam, I played 198 different games this year, when you include the 48 demos I tried out. Even taking those out of the equation, that’s still 149 different titles. Now, I am a dabbler, true, but I’m not normally that much of a dabbler. But between February and November of this year, I made 105 posts for the #JustOnePercent project. Assuming a 10% fail rate (where I at least launched the game, but didn’t write about it for one reason or another), and – just a guesstimate – assuming that 25% of what I played for the project was on another platform, when we fudge the numbers just smidgen, we can guess that about 87 of those titles I played specifically as part of the project.
That leaves me with what feels like a far more manageable number of 62 games that I played this year just because they struck my fancy, which is a little more than 5 a month. That feels about right to me. The ranking by playtime seems to reflect that as well – it’s not until you reach the third dozen that games I chose for the project start regularly appearing, with Cozy Grove being the only title to make an appearance in my top two dozen, by playtime.
What isn’t particular surprising is the very low number of games (which is to say, one?) in the top third of my list of titles played for the year that were not indie titles. When I say I mostly play indie games, I guess I really mean it, and now I have the stats to back it up.
I’ve been putting off writing about the project a bit, partially because – oh dear lord – I needed a break from it after 10 long months, but also because I hadn’t yet figured out the answer to a key question.
Was it successful?
I mean, I know it was in that I did what I set out to do. I played more than 100 games that came out on Steam in full release during 2021. For the majority of those titles, that means I spent at least an hour with each game, and there were a handful I really enjoyed that I would maybe never have gotten around to trying out. While I didn’t go spelunking too far outside of my comfort zone, I feel like I stretched a little, and that’s always a good thing.
But I don’t think the project necessarily made the statement I thought it would when I started out.
I’ll admit it – a few of the titles that I played probably never should have seen the light of day, never mind an active store front. But for the most part, I could see the merit in each of the titles, even when I was very clearly not the target audience. Some of the games I picked – in large part because they were at least in the same orbit as my taste – were immensely popular and successful indie titles. Some of the games I thought were great, however, only managed a handful of sales.
I really don’t envy the people who need to come up with the titles to put on the “Best of…” lists we always see at this time of year, and I really struggled picking my “Top Twelve” from the 105 games I played for the project. Even in doing so, I kind of felt like it was a bit unfair – a full two-thirds of the titles I felt like I got the most out of were already on my wish list (or were games I had Kickstarted) before the idea for the project even existed.
Putting those aside for a moment, the four biggest happy surprises for me were the following titles: The Forgotten City, The Wild at Heart, At Eve’s Wake, and The List. None of these were on my radar at all, and I would probably not have played any of them outside the boundaries of this project, and I loved every one of them.
Which is not to say I didn’t enjoy any of the other games I played – in fact, I enjoyed most of them. They just weren’t necessarily the exact game I would have picked to play when I did if I had not been so tightly focused on 2021 releases from indie game developers.
Which I guess just leaves one final question: Would I do it again?
Sorry for anyone who was a big fan of the project, but I don’t think that I would. It’s not that I don’t think I play a hundred or so different games in the course of an average year – I have no doubt that I do – but I definitely skipped out on more than a few things I would have really preferred to be playing at any given time.
I’ve built a big library precisely so I can go where my whims take me. I like my whims. I’m pretty damn attached to my whims.
This is well reflected by my Steam Replay, as well as by those silly charts I post in my In Review posts – I tend to spend the most time playing the games that I want to play at any given time. Revolutionary, right? It’s also why this is my hobby, and not my job.
I had toyed around with some different project ideas for 2023, but I think – just now – I’ve realized that what I would really like to do is play whatever strikes my fancy, at least for awhile.