A Small Setback for Low Spend 2020

I had a plan for this year. I promised myself that I was going to devote 2020 to experiences – get out more, do things that previously I hadn’t been able to afford or hadn’t been healthy enough to do. I was even off to a fairly strong start – in January, I organized a big group dinner outing with friends, February I went to my first Paint Night, and I went to a concert in early March with my husband and my parents.

And then, there was a pandemic and I’ve spent the last six weeks either at home, at work, or very very occasionally at the grocery store. Even as someone who falls on the side of pretty extreme introversion, it’s been trying. There’s a lot of things about the time before COVID19 that I miss, but shopping – and I mean shopping for fun – has got to be one of the things I miss the most.

I fully admit that retail therapy is one of my greatest vices, and even though I don’t need anything (and yes, I understand how lucky I am to be in that position), I’m finding myself craving the endorphin rush from … getting something just because I want it.

I had initially hoped to alleviate some of that (as well as some of my chronic back and neck pain), by ordering a swank new chair for my desk from Amazon. Of course, being a non-critical item, it’s not going to be here for at least another week, but I’m still really looking forward to a whole bunch of comfier gaming time in my future.

But I’m still struggling, and I hate that I’m struggling when really, things here haven’t been all that rough.


After giving it an absurd amount of thought, I’ve decided to allot myself $100 in Stay-At-Home gaming spending outside of all my other parameters, with an intention to primarily purchase games from more independent developers. For me, that’s a win-win – I get to shop, and I get to feel good about how I’m spending my money because I’m supporting creators and not corporations.

I had to remind myself that this was a challenge I set myself, and the parameters I was anticipating for the challenge have changed drastically, and changing my plans to accommodate that isn’t a failure. Besides, it’s not like it’s the first time I’ve changed the rules; and it probably won’t be the last.


If you stayed with me this far, you’re probably wondering where I’m going to toss some of that money, right?

Well, first off, I want to buy a couple of games to support the Sokpop Video Game Collective. I’m definitely going to grab Simmiland and Sproots. Simmiland has been on my wishlist for awhile (a god game that’s also a card game? Brilliant!), and Sproots looks too adorable to pass up. I could use more adorable in my life right now.

I’m also going to pick up Eastshade, even though I fully expect it to be featured in a Humble Choice sooner or later, because the current sale and the concept of just exploring a peaceful and beautiful world are both calling to me.


The catch is this – I’m not going to let these games just hang out in my library. I’m going to buy them, and within the next few weeks, I am going to play them. It sounds mad, I know, but I think I can do it. Maybe this will be the beginning of a new way of treating myself to the occasional “non-essential” purchase – if I want to buy it, I will make it a point to actually enjoy it for longer than it takes to click the add to cart button.

A (Micro) Transgression

I knew I was going to have issues with Low-Spend 2020, and just over a month in, I’ve made my first forbidden purchase.

I’ve been on a kick for mobile slot machine games lately – more so since I discovered that some evil geniuses have decided to add quests to the mindless game play loop.

Normally, this would be just another guilty pleasure, nothing worth even mentioning, because despite these types of apps being absolutely infested with microtransactions, I’m pretty good at resisting the lure of “free money” (which isn’t actually even money!)

But here’s the thing – I also fully believe that if you’re enjoying a free-to-play game, no matter how inane, it’s actually a good thing to throw a couple of dollars at the developers, just as long as you never go over what you would have paid for the game if you had bought it outright.

Last night, I got home late, I was tired, and was unwinding with a slot-machine focused quest or two, and one of those amazing deals popped up. And I thought, I’ve been playing this game every day for over three weeks now, I should toss a couple of dollars at it.

And without any more thought than that, I did.


Obviously, I’m not going to waste a lot of time lamenting that I failed in my low-spend goals over a measly $2.11. I’m still in it for the year, but I wanted to make a short post in the interest of full-disclosure.

Impulse Purchases and a Last Hurrah

My plan for a low-spend 2020 is weighing on me. A year without buying anything new suddenly seems SO VERY LONG INDEED.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve picked up a handful of things, some of which were planned purchases, and others that really really weren’t.

I did finally pick up The Witcher 3 GOTY during Black Friday sales, and I grabbed a copy of Sunset Overdrive for my library when a physical copy was available on Amazon for around $10. So far, so good.

However, in the last week, I’ve also picked up a handful of things that caught my eye that weren’t anything I had been looking to closely at before catching a good sale. Anthem was only $6 on Amazon – it’s a physical copy and I haven’t opened it yet, but I’m going to hold onto it in case the big changes that are rumored actually make an appearance. I grabbed FTL and Where the Water Tastes Like Wine on a Humble Store sale, and Rocwood Academy and Master of Pottery were an impulse purchase on Steam, but all in all, I dropped less than $20 on the whole batch.

And then today, Chrono.gg put the Plantinum collection of Civilization VI on sale for under $30, so I scooped that up, and then I grabbed Autonauts on Nuuvem for $5. Somehow, I’ve managed to spend about $50 before even looking at the Steam sale, which is supposed to be my last spending hurrah until 2021.


Which is, I guess, both good and bad news, because the Steam sale isn’t really blowing my skirt up this go around. I’m not saying there aren’t any good deals, but none of them are ah-mazing. Originally, I had planned on picking up a couple of bigger titles, and now, the more I look, the more likely it seems that I’ll grab a couple of smaller ones (Crest is looking particularly appealing at the moment) or skip buying on Steam altogether this time around.

I also plan to keep any eye on Epic’s daily freebies, and take a closer look at some of the bundles Fanatical is dropping as part of their winter sale. There are some really fantastic deals out there – but I am already finding myself saying “But you don’t need that!”

Less than two weeks before I have to depend on Twitch Prime, Humble Choice, and sheer will power for a whole year.

Ten Games to Tackle in 2020

Since I’m not going to be buying much in the way of new games next year, I decided that I’d use at least some of that time to tackle some games that have been lingering in my library that just seem too damn long or overwhelming.

Now, I don’t actually expect to finish all of them, and it’s possible I won’t even start all of them, but what I am doing is getting myself prepped and making sure things are installed. I chose ten games with some pretty significant potential play times, because really, the only better time to play these monsters than during low-spend 2020 is if I had played them when I actually bought them.

Assassin’s Creed: Origins

[How Long to Beat: 29 – 81 hours]

Received in the May 2019 Humble Monthly

I have a weird relationship with the Assassin’s Creed games. Weird, in that, I buy them but I don’t really play them. After my third or fourth attempt to get into the first game, I decided that playing them in order was overrated. Although there are some earlier entries in the series I want to spend some more time with, I decided to go for Origins.

Borderlands

[How Long to Beat : 22 – 63 hours]

Purchased Jan 3, 2013 for $4.99

I have played a little bit of Borderlands quite a few times, but never really stuck with it. Rumor has it that’s it’s better in co-op, but that’s not really my thing, but I feel like my recent interest in shooters filled with mayhem and destruction mean it’s time to give it another go.

Crusader Kings 2

[How Long to Beat: 65 – 291 hours]

Purchased September 2013 in a Humble Weekly Bundle (total bundle price: $6.00)

Crusader Kings 2 is another game that irks me – I should like it, I want to like it, I keep buying more and more DLC for it, but I don’t actually play it long enough to get up and over the learning curve.

Dying Light The Following Enhanced Edition

[How Long to Beat: 20 – 83 hours]

Purchased July 6, 2018 for $15.99

I really have no excuse for not diving into this sooner (except maybe that I keep going to back to the Dead Rising series whenever I feel the need to get my zombie killer on).

Fallout 4 GOTY

[How Long to Beat: 34 – 208 hours]

Purchased November 25, 2018 for $19.98

Here’s another series I had to finally give in and tell myself it was ok to play the later iterations without having completed the early games. I still probably SHOULD start with 3 or New Vegas, but I think I want to go into this one with very low expectations if I want to actually get my money’s worth.

Far Cry: Primal

[How Long to Beat: 14 – 36 hours]

Purchased August 22, 2019 for $5.50

I have no idea if I’ll even like this one – I’ve never played further than half an hour or so into any Far Cry title, but I love the concept, and I just kind of want to mess around and be all prehistoric and make my tools out of sticks and stones.

Grim Dawn

[How Long to Beat: 22 – 106 hours]

Received in the October 2016 Humble Monthly

This one I’ve dabbled in, but never really gotten into for no real reason I can fathom.

Slay the Spire

[How Long to Beat: 10 – 234 hours]

Purchased July 5, 2019 for $12.50

True confession: I’m worried this one is going to be too good, too addictive, and I haven’t had space for that kind of game in my life. Guess we’ll see how it goes.

Starbound

[How Long to Beat: 21 – 192 hours]

Received as a gift June 2017.

As one of the half a dozen people worldwide who couldn’t get into Terraria, I’m afraid I won’t like this. Or, more precisely, that I won’t get it.

The Witcher 3

[How Long to Beat: 52 – 191 hours]

Not yet purchased.

Will the hype machine kill this one for me? Will I finally discover that I no longer enjoy long & meaty RPGs? Will I finally understand what Gwent is all about? I suppose we’ll find out.


Honorable Mentions

  • Bioshock Trilogy
  • Call of Cthulu
  • Divinity: Original Sin
  • Endless Legend
  • The Witness

These didn’t quite make the cut, but if I wanted to leave them here in case I nope out of any (or, god forbid, all) of my top 10.

Because I really struggle with giving myself permission to play even one massive, life-eating game – actually listing out a bunch I really want to spend some serious time with feels kind of overwhelming. However, since I’m also not restricting myself to these titles only, I’m hoping to open myself up to a good balance of intimidating titles, with some lovely little palette cleansers from my library in between.

Low-Spend 2020: Putting a Halt to Impulsive Game Purchasing

I’ve known for awhile that I have a problem with impulse purchasing, but I try not to think about how big of a problem it actually is.

I have not actually played anywhere near that many games – I do tend to idle for cards, which makes at least that portion of my calculator very very wrong.

Of course, bundle buying absolutely throws the account value out of whack. On the other hand, this is only games I own on Steam, and it’s still way too many. So I’ve decided to slow my roll next year, and stop buying things just because they’re cheap or they look interesting or I’m having a bad day.


Low Spend 2020 – Allowed Spending

Subscription Spending

I’m allowing myself the full 12 months of Humble Choice, as well as one paid MMO subscription and one paid gaming subscription service at a time.

Non-Subscription Spending

I am allowed to spend up to $50 gifting games to others during the Summer and Winter Steam sales, and I am allowed to purchase non-Collector’s Edition expansions for World of Warcraft or Elder Scrolls Online. Additionally, I may elect to purchase one new co-op game or MMO to play with my husband if something comes out he’s excited about.


Other than what I’ve indicated above, I will not be purchasing any new games, or making any cash shop or micro-transaction purchases in 2020. This includes purchasing any bundles other than the Humble Choice subscription.

While I acknowledge that I’m still allowing myself a massive budget, I still feel like this will be an improvement over what I’ve been doing – which is just making game purchases without a whole lot of thought behind them. It’s not really about the money – although I love to shop, I don’t spend to the point where it strains our budget. But by always chasing the next great deal, I am not really enjoying the things I buy.


While it’s not restricting myself to only five games for an entire year, I am hoping it’ll encourage me to play through some more of my library, as well as better evaluate the worth of the various gaming subscription services that are out there.