Drinking from the firehose

David Stark / Zarkonnen
2016-06-19 20:22

Short version: For one day, on Thursday, 23. June, I will buy and play every single game released on Steam that day. I will stream myself playing. I will play each game for twenty minutes, and at the end of that time, I will render one of two verdicts: "keep" or "refund".

There are so many games being released every day that it's become pretty much impossible to keep track of them all. On the iOS app store, there's now something like 500 new games every day. Almost all of those will sink without a trace, unnoticed and unplayed.

On PC, things are not (yet?) that extreme. About 20 new games appear on Steam every day. But it's still too many for any one person to keep track of, enough so that perfectly good games might get lost because of chance.

This breeds a fair amount of mutual frustration, and even yelling, on the part of game developers and the games press.

From the developers' perspective, the press are ignoring their game only to push out yet another morsel about some newly revealed feature of some upcoming AAA game, or write yet another article about an Indie darling that everyone else is writing about too.

From the writers' perspective, there is no way to fully engage with the flood of new games, much less with the flood of PR emails. And their primary duty is to the readers, who are more likely to care about that AAA game or Indie darling than some unknown thing plucked from the endless torrent of new releases. And too, there are plenty of writers who cover new games, smaller games, weird games - but there is so much now that their efforts can never be enough.

So I got to wondering - what would it be like to drink straight from the firehose? Twenty games a day is just about small enough to try out each of them for twenty minutes. And Steam has a refund policy after all, one that explicitly allows you to refund games if you don't like them, so it's not like buying every single game released in a day would be disastrous for my wallet.

Here's my proposed format: for one day, on Thursday, 23. June, I will buy and play every single game released on Steam that day. I will stream myself playing. I will play each game for twenty minutes, and at the end of that time, I will render one of two verdicts: "keep" or "refund".

"Keep" doesn't have to mean "good" - it just means that the game is fun or intriguing enough to me that I want to play it for longer.

"Refund" doesn't have to mean "bad" - it means I personally don't enjoy the game enough that I want to keep playing it.

The idea is to give each and every single game the same level of attention - whether it's an AAA blockbuster with 500 man-years behind it or a small weird thing that somehow slipped through Greenlight when no one was looking. And I will do my best to actually play the game for twenty minutes, even if I'm quite convinced I'll hate it. (The exception is if my computer can't run the game - there's nothing I can do there.)

This is of course not something that would be possible for anyone to do every single day without melting from exhaustion. And in practice, this isn't even all PC games released in a day, just the ones conveniently available on Steam.

So if you think this is an interesting experiment, tune in to Twitch on Thursday 23. June. I will start at 08:00 GMT, and if things go as planned, expect to be done about 12 hours later. I might of course develop hideous exhaustion, hoarseness, or RSI, in which case I will pause the process for the sake of my own health and continue on the next day. But trying to cover every single game as fast as they come out is part of the experiment, so I will aim to do that.

Let's see what happens.