It’s not uncommon for people to say they “need” something when they just want it, or vice versa. When it comes to games, however, you only really ever want to play them. Need, if we’re talking about it in the “Maslow’s hierarchy of” sense, does not generally enter the equation. Or at least, it shouldn’t. Live service games really test that idea.
Right now, I have several live service games in my backlog—or at least, not in my frontlog—that I feel like I need to play. I know I do not actually need to, but the particular construction of these games puts me under a constant, quiet pressure. Genshin Impact’s next big update, which includes a whole player housing system, is coming out next week, and I need to make sure my Adventure Rank is high enough that I can access all the new stuff. Warframe, which just turned eight, recently put out its spaceship-focused “Call of the Tempestarii” update, which potentially sets the stage for a long-awaited, much-bigger story update later this year. I don’t even have a spaceship—known as a Railjack, in Warframe parlance—so I have a lot of lost ground to make up for. I got into Destiny late last year, but I honestly cannot tell you what’s going on in that game at the moment. I’ve already been away too long. The idea of getting back into it is nearly as daunting as the idea of getting into it was in the first place.
It’s even worse with games that my friends play. I recently got into Outriders, but I did so a couple weeks after my friends and co-workers, so I’m already woefully behind in terms of loot and level. There’s an intrinsic guilt to dragging a friend through a bunch of content they just played, even when they tell you it’s fine. I’ve also been dabbling in the granddaddy of modern service games, League of Legends, but the problem is, it’s not really a game for dabblers. My friends, who play casually, are already leagues better than me, and they don’t even play that often—just more than I do. While I was averaging one or two healthy sessions a week for a couple months, LoL has now slipped into my backlo(l)g.