Analysis Paralysis

So the new PlayStation Plus line-up was finally announced this week and, of course, the online squabbling was quick to follow.

Many were quick to point out the “glaring omissions” from Sony’s new service, and when judged on its classic game line-up, perhaps this is understandable. An initial 10 PS1 titles for the Premium tier does seem a little slight, but there are still over 120 games in total, and the PS4 and PS5 games on offer are surely better than most expected.

If you want a full, official rundown of what’s on offer, you can find it here.

One thing that can’t really be argued is the amount of choice. And because personal preference will dictate whether the games list appeals or not, I won’t sit here and suggest games to you or argue the ins and outs of the various membership tiers. Instead, I’d like to ask a question; if you already have PlayStation Plus (or Game Pass, or Nintendo Switch Online), how often have you sat staring at that colossal list of games available to you and had no idea what to play?

If you’re anything like me, probably quite often.

There’s a reason for it, and it’s called analysis paralysis. Business advisory firm Deloitte explain it best; “The human brain simply isn’t designed to process and compare the sheer amount of information it is often given. While consumers say they want choices, the need to select between endless options can become a cognitive burden rather than a delight. Without ways to mentally manage or weigh the value of information, people struggle to decide, and freeze”.

It turns out you really can have too much of a good thing.

A subscription to all three top tiers of PlayStation Plus, Game Pass and Nintendo Switch Online will set you back roughly £265 without discounts (the cost of around four N64 games at 1998 prices) for 12 months access to more than 550 games. And these games aren’t limited to three consoles either; you’ll be treated to games from the NES, SNES, Mega Drive, N64, PS1, PS2, PS3, PS4, PS5, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Xbox Series S & X.

Of course, we don’t own the games offered via these services (a thorny subject covered in last week’s issue), but still, this is a staggering amount of content for your coin. More is being added all the time too, and our attention is being spread ever thinner. Stretched like butter scraped over too much bread, to paraphrase a famous hobbit.

I often wonder if I’m doing games a disservice. Am I really getting the most out of them? I distinctly remember the N64 days (derided for its lack of games) where the wait between big releases was measured in months, sometimes years. But good Lord did I squeeze every last drop of enjoyment out of each and every one of them.

Meeting Yoshi on the roof of Peach’s castle after claiming that 120th star. A 1080° Snowboarding half-pipe score good enough to win a magazine competition. That 100th gold skulltula. Hundreds of hours of my friends and I swearing that we were definitely the best GoldenEye players in the world (a claim I’m sure a few reading this will no doubt be familiar with, and quick to challenge). If those games were all available at the same time – alongside 500 others – would I have done any of those things?

I know I wouldn’t. And those are some of my most treasured gaming memories.

Perhaps the ideal is somewhere in the middle, but for those of a certain vintage who can remember those “good old days”, before you start lamenting the games that aren’t available to you, try to think back to how much you got out of your games when you were truly focused on just one or two at a time. Sit back and really look at the games that are available, and try to appreciate how lucky we are now to have such easy access to so much great content.

Failing that, I’m sure you’ll be able to find something that takes your fancy on Netflix, Sky, Prime, Apple TV+, Spotify, Steam, HBO, Disney+, All 4, YouTube, iPlayer………

This article is an extract from The Week in Games newsletter.

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