I don't know about you, but in this modern digital age I find it far too easy to amass a collection of games that I can't possibly play through and get what I actually paid for. With Steam sales and Humble Indie Bundles in particular, my input of games seems to vastly outweigh my output of actually playing them to a satisfactory level. With that in mind, I've created a guide to keep your game collection controlled and manageable and hopefully you may save some money in the process. Basically I'm recounting mistakes I've personally made in the hope that at least one reader will avoid the same blunders.
Oh and this guide is for people who enjoy gaming but are limited to a budget. If game collecting is your actual plan then just go crazy.
1) Only buy what you know you know you'll play. Yes, that 75% off a big name RTS may seem like a good deal but its only a good deal if you genuinely enjoy that type of game. New experiences are always worth trying but a Humble Bundle might be a better opportunity for experimentation with a new genre.
2) Make sure you actually have the time to play a new game. If you have pressing matters to attend to and don't have time to waste on games then its probably worth waiting until you do have time. Besides, the game will probably be cheaper by then too. This is particularly true of huge RPGs which require massive time commitments to enjoy fully.
3) Don't buy a game on sale when its vastly improved sequel is right around the corner. Prequels tend to go on sale just before a new game in the franchise is out. Just wait and spend your money on the superior experience.
4) Try to avoid buying multiple versions of games you already own. Yes that PC version of a game you already own on 360 may be more graphically impressive and yes, it may be on sale but do you really need a second copy? An exception could be made if you particularly enjoy said game and getting a GOTY edition discounted is cheaper than paying for the DLC separately. The biggest sin you can commit is buying the Steam version of a PC game you own because you just can't be bothered to put the disc in. Yes, I am guilty of this and no, I'm not proud of it.
5) Don't be afraid to trade in games you know you're done with. Yes, this is the bane of the game industry giants but you need to afford those new releases. Oh and always trade for in-store credit. If you don't mind putting in the extra effort you could always stick them on ebay.
6) Play the unplayed games you already own. In fact you could make a little game in itself just to see how much of your existing catalogue you can plough through before your next paycheck. I find that overwhelming choice can distract you from a single game and can make you give up after just first impressions alone. I've picked up and put down Dishonored multiple times just because I have several games that also need playing. Despite being completely contridictory-sounding for a recreational activity, you have to force yourself to play through these games, at least beyond the boring tutorial levels. By forcing myself to play my PSN copy, I have recently discovered what a joy the classic Resident Evil 2 is. Obviously you won't like every game you've bought but at least give them all a fighting chance.
7) If you simply must have something new to play and can't think of any releases that you particularly want then buy an Indie Bundle (humblebundle.com). The bundles are as cheap as you want and even with a particularly generous donation they are stunning value for money, both 'main' bundles and the weekly bundles. As mentioned, they are excellent avenues to try new types of games you won't neccsarily spend 40 pounds on. Plus even if you don't play them that much you can at least take comfort in knowing that your money has gone straight to charity.
8) Go achievement hunting. 360, PS3, Steam, whatever. I'm not the type to earn 100% in every game I own (the fact I feel the need to write this guide should attest to that) but a particularly interesting achievement can give you the motivation to revisit your game catalogue.
Ultimately, this is just a matter of showing a bit of restraint. The games industry has grown to the point that it can be overwhelming to try and play every release you have interest in. If you find yourself strapped for cash, just try playing what you already own.