Avoiding Video Game Hype/FOMO

Hello all! I’m wondering how some of you have been able to avoid video game hype, and FOMO (fear of missing out). You might want to do this for many reasons: save money, not participate in mindless capitalist consumption, or participate more meaningfully in criticism.

I’m trying to avoid hype because

  1. I’m unemployed and don’t want to buy new games
  2. I want to avoid the manufactured discontent of capitalism
  3. I want to read/participate in criticism of older games, which can be lost behind coverage of the newest games

Here are some things that have helped me get out of the endless video game hype cycle:

  • Listen to less video game podcasts/watch less YouTube

These are not inherently bad! But I found that when I was listening to every episode of Waypoint/Beastcast I felt like I had to be playing certain games that sounded fun. I wanted to keep up with the discussions, form my own opinions, and talk about them with people on the forum. My experience with said games was frequently less fun than the idea of playing and discussing the games. I now only listen to 2-3 episodes of Waypoint/month, and I’m enjoying it much more.

  • Use Less Twitter

Twitter sucks for a myriad of reasons, but constant video game hype and advertising has really put me off recently. 280 characters is not enough for a review, much less a thoughtful critique.

  • Play a Forever Game

I’ve been playing Animal Crossing New Horizons semi-regularly since its release. I’m satisfied, and don’t feel like I need much more. I know some people here love FFXIV and Destiny. There’s something for everyone.

  • Play Old Games, and Write About Them

I’m playing Pokemon Platinum right now, and it’s just nice to return to an old game. I have thoughts about it, and am excited to write about it for my blog. If I want better criticism I can’t just hope it appears, I have to help create it.

I don’t want to begrudge anyone that is excited for new games, or by necessity (like the Waypoint crew) has to write about current games. I just think it’s important to think about our consumption of media and products. There’s no ethical consumption etc., but to be uncritical about consumption is unethical in my opinion.

I’d love to hear how you all avoid hype, and why you do it.

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I am usually VERY VERY VERY bad at this. I am the person who preorders everything and plays maybe half of it. Usually when I manage to exercise a modicum of discipline, it’s because I have stuff to play and don’t feel obligated to run out and pick the newest/latest/best thing up right away. People I know who exercise more restraint than I do have their like…three games that they play and that’s the end of it.

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I’ve done a lot of the same things as you have. Over time, Waypoint has become the only gaming site I follow (and only gaming podcast I listen to) which is probably what helps the most. Can’t get excited about upcoming new releases when I barely hear about them. Also I follow fewer video games people on Twitter, so I get less of the news and discourse there as well.

There also came a point where I look at my Steam library and just made a big list of all the games in that I really want to play and have (slowly) started to whittle away at it. And on top of that with things like EGS and Twitch Prime, I’ve gotten a ton of other games for free. So with all that I don’t really ever need to buy another game for a very long time. Setting a goal of working through my backlog and slowly accomplishing it has helped me a lot, I think.

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Yeah, there have been times where I’ve gone on something of a shopping spree in the middle of the summer to buy random new games but that’s been replaced by a trip to Game Pass first. That’s the one fiscally responsible thing I can manage.

13 Sentinels and Yakuza 7 both ended up going on sale for half-off like two weeks after release. So really, unless it is Nintendo, there is no reason to buy a new game at launch, especially when they’re certain to be the buggiest and shittiest possible version of those games.

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I keep accidentally using reverse-psychology on myself and purchasing games I’ve heavily criticized (FF7R, Paper Mario TOK, Ghost of Tsushima, Avengers, Immortals: FR). The only advice I can salvage out of this is, don’t follow marketing cycles out of wanting your biases against a game validated, because you’re still exposing yourself to the influence of advertising even if you’re going in with negative assumptions.

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I’ve been trying the same things for a while as well. Mostly out of the sense that for a long times, whether it was books, movies, or games, I was just checking them off a list after completion and not really engaging with things beyond a superficial level. Consuming media instead of engaging and maybe really enjoying it.
A couple things I’ve tried include deleting any wishlists and avoiding best of or top ten articles. I keep a list of games Ive played where I also write a few notes on my time playing it. I think this has helped me understand better what I enjoy about the games Ive played, and that helps me make better decisions about what to play next. One suggestion I have that I do for books I read but don’t do with games yet, is physically write in a moleskin I keep specifically to document what I’ve read. Makes it easy to look back on what I’ve read, and the physical act of writing my thoughts on paper just feels better.

I’ve also tried your tactic of avoiding almost all games media except for a very select few. I really like podcasts like 3MA and youtube channels like Noah Caldwell’s because they’re not afraid to talk a lot about older games in ways that are far more critical and includes more context than the usual nostalgia infected articles that clog up a lot of gaming media with the same hype problems that a lot of discussion of newer games have as well.

So good luck! Avoiding hype and FOMO is not easy in a garbage culture that values novelty over anything else.

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I control my purchasing by beating 2 games for every 1 I buy. I’ve accumulated a massive backlog because I used to literally never beat games, so I’ve got a lot of material to sort through. In many ways the 2 for 1 is a silly rule but it works for me. It also means that I’m usually playing older stuff.

The social element of playing a new game is what I miss most. Usually I try to get that by talking about whatever old game I’m playing anywhere I can. I use the “what are you playing” board here as an outlet both to criticize and discuss. Kotaku has a “what are you playing” post every week, lots of subreddits do, etc. Usually somebody who has played the game will at least chime in, and that’s all I really need. I also think it’s cool to play old stuff, I’m into it as a character bit for myself.

This board helps me also by letting me at least follow discussion of new games. I’m never going to play Valhalla, but I like reading those forum posts and taking in the experience in that manner. I also don’t have an interest in playing most new AAA stuff, especially collectathons. That makes me sound unbearable (I am), but it definitely helps escape FOMO!

Have you considered or ever wanted to play a game competitively? Probably 70% of my gaming time over the past year was Smash Brothers Ultimate because I started going to tournaments and practicing online. Would be quite happy to play it forever.

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The mix of gaming podcasts and gamers I follow means I rarely, if ever, hear about a game exclusively in positive terms. It’s much easier to temper that FOMO if someone you like hates a game; maybe you won’t hate it, sure, but it’s a reminder that there’s more than the hype to a game.

No shade intended here, but a lot of the Abnormal Mapping regulars and Dia Lacina are great follows if you want some great critical voices who are usually more down on games than even the Waypoint crew is.

Keeping note of the games I want to save for helps. Is a game worth caving in and buying now if it means I’ll be short the cash to buy another game when it comes out? This is less about managing hype as using hype for one game against another… but we all have a franchise or developer we’re too into to wholly avoid it.

Definitely good to remember most games are buggy as hell on launch these days. Your saves will be corrupted, cool quest lines will break, Spiderman will brick your PS5. By the Black Friday sales, games released in Q1/Q2 have been patched and are 30-50% off. You’ll still be in that GOTY conversation, but you’ll have played a better game and saved yourself enough money to buy a good indie game, too.

Also, becoming way more into indie games is the way to go. Prices vary, but you’d have to cave to the FOMO three to five times with indies to spend the equivalent of caving once on a AAA game. And they’re way more likely to be worth it; the only big game I don’t regret buying this year is Final Fantasy VII Remake, and that’s not exactly high praise.

Watching LPs can go either way. Every second I see of Crusader Kings III brings me one cent closer to caving in and buying the game… but watching a stream of Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory saved me a whole $80 CAD. Choose wisely.

If all else fails, become an over-critical, cynical communist. I saved myself $120 or whatever the Gold Edition for AC Valhalla sells for, by anti-hyping myself with both “Ubisoft needs to be dismantled from the top down,” and intentionally spoiling myself by reading a piece on the Beowulf DLC (the thing I had the most interest in) and learning it was ableist trash.

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Have a child, it’s the sure fire way to evaporate any desire or ability to keep up with popular culture!

Honestly I think it is just something that comes with age. The fact you are questioning your relationship with the hype cycle probably means your starting to get over it. In my mid to late 20s I had the time and means to keep up with current releases. A string of disappointments made me really look at my taste in games and what games I was actually playing through and enjoying. My tastes are quite discerning nowadays and there’s very few games I’m interested in. Consuming games media is more likely to make me think ‘interesting but not for me’ than any sort of FOMO.

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The thing that works for me oddly enough is watching/listening to other people play these games because I normally get enough out of that and often between the various points of view on something I am convinced that I do not need it. Even when it is something I know I will really like, such as Empire of Sin, I can actually do pretty well at holding off on buying until later down the road once it has had time to get a few patches, some general guides have come out to reference, and maybe some mods have shown up.

Honestly a lot of games unless it is heavily focused on the multiplayer you can wait several months or even several years and pick it up and have as much fun as the person who bought it at launch.

The main thing for me though is having hobbies other then playing video games. I like being creative so I end up putting time into things like Gunpla (which let’s be real probably more expensive then games), programming (modding/software/etc), and recently reading more.

I am also the kind of person who really likes horde modes in games and let me tell you those plus a podcast/youtube/netflix will eat several hours.

Other advice:

  • Adblock: get rid of as many ads in your life as possible. Find other ways to support creatives and websites you like. Your personal ad value is probably less than a dollar, buy a shirt or something from them instead.

  • Social Media: figure out what social media sites do you actually need in your life and who you’re interacting with on them. Filter better on the sites and do not read the comments.

  • 100% Free Video Games: these exist and sadly often get over looked unless they become immensely popular like Dwarf Fortress. Every time someone talks about a new indie arena shooter I am constantly reminded of how many good 100% free open source arena shooters already exist.

Last advice I will give is figure out what makes you happy. I’m sure you’ve heard it before and it’s an easy thing to dismiss as “I already know” but really sitting down and writing out what makes you as a person happy and what it is you could be doing to make you happy has really helped me make better life decisions but also buying decisions. As an example everyone has a lot of good things to say about Umurangi Generation but I know for a fact that it is not the kind of game I would like and I would get incredibly bored with it because I just do not like photography in the same way.

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I use a mix of strategies folks have already mentioned

  • Know what you like and focus in on that. I have a real distaste for strategy and tactics games and know I will probably not enjoy them even if folks are very positive on the latest release.

  • I keep a log of the games I’ve purchased, date I bought them, date when I beat them, and notes on my experience. It helps to stare down a list of things I’ve purchased but haven’t beaten when thinking about getting something new

  • Listening to gaming podcasts and news outlets (and the Waypoint forum) is actually very helpful for me. I can keep abreast of discussions around The New Big Game without having to buy or play it myself.

  • When I was struggling financially in grad school, I played a ton of free indie games on Itch.io. It was a lot of fun to see what people made for various game jams and discover hidden gems to share with friends.

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Big ditto. I have a toddler currently so I get to play some games of a night when they’re asleep. But other than that I don’t have the disposable income anymore. When I was in uni with no responsibilities I would buy a game and play an hour or two the day of release and never touch it again just to feel part of the conversation.

Nowadays I truly dont give a fuck about the conversations. Don’t get me wrong I love reading articles and listening to Waypoint, but I no longer feel I need to have an opinion on the hot new thing.

I just try my best to whittle down my backlog but even thats tough now with gamepass. But I can’t remember the last game I bought full price, or even at all for that matter.

Going back and playing ‘old’ games is great too. When Watch_Dogs 2 came out, I bounced off it so so hard, I hated everything about it. Then for some reason in 2018 I decided to play and play it in my own way (My Marcus was a photographer documenting poverty in San Fran, not a gunman) and it was my GOTY.

Also fuck the majority of AAA titles, that certainly saved my wallet a bunch

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This is a good thread full of great advice! I listen to a lot of podcasts while I work, so what’s helped me is listening to games podcasts focusing on older games. Abnormal Mapping is a great example mentioned earlier in the thread! I also listen to old episodes of Idle Thumbs. I can usually find any game they talk about that sounds interesting for cheap in a Steam sale or something! Beyond that, there’s a lot of good podcasts about things that aren’t games. If you have a lot of podcast time to fill, branch out and find something else that interests you!

I’ll echo what others have said above: this gets easier with age. I don’t think it’s necessarily a maturity thing, but the more time you’ve had in the hype cycle, the better chance you have to get burned. In 2018 I bought a PS4 pro to play God of War, and it damn near broke me! Since then I’ve been playing a lot more old games. I’m much more likely to play things I really enjoy because there has been years, or decades even, to sort the wheat from the chaff. So yeah, indulge yourself with new games from franchises you love, then delve into stuff you might have missed in years past!

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This is definitely something I think about a lot! Especially as someone who just loves talking about games in general, but a few things have really helped me in not feeling like I need to buy all the latest games and avoid hype:

  • I don’t listen to any video game podcasts anymore, well, other than old episodes of 3 Moves Ahead, and the occasional Abnormal Mapping episode. Turns out, not hearing the conversations really helps curb my desire to be in them.
  • Being stubborn in purchasing decisions. I know I’m going to dislike most big-ass-budget games, especially ubi-style open worlds and grim story based stuff, which cover many $60 games thankfully, so I don’t feel compelled to buy them.
  • Understanding that I might find much more interesting and fun conversations with others when playing through older games in my backlog or on gamepass. It’s cool to be part of a current conversation for sure, but I find people are more than happy to discuss older games they’ve already played, especially with someone who’s currently playing through. I had a lot of great conversations this year about Rain World and Slay the Spire with other’s who have played through them.

I still play a lot of newer games, but even just understanding my lane has been very helpful in curbing mistaken game purchases.


Absolutely recommend following them on twitter or their podcasts! The Abnormal Mapping podcast talks a lot about older games and other media which is good for staying off the hype and they are very thoughtful in how they discuss any media. Also Dia has a lets play YouTube channel where she plays through a lot of older games and it’s a lot of fun.

Pretty sure that was the game that stopped me from purchasing games to understand the hype. I couldn’t stand any part of that game. Also got me to sell my PS4 lmao

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I’m starting to feel like one of the most inadvertently pernicious sentiments in video game discourse is “OMG you gotta play this”. I understand it comes from a good place, and I do it too (everyone should play Titanfall 2 /s). But that enthusiasm for a game you like often translates into an obligation to others to keep up with the conversation, and that sucks. Like, I tried Hades for the first time this weekend, and it’s fine? You melee or range fight enemies and get dialog thrown at you. It’s well done and I get why people love it, but no one is worse off for not playing it. I think going forward we would all be better off if we excise this sentiment from our collective vocabulary.

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The majority of AAA games aren’t very appealing to me so I’ve mostly experienced them via LPs or podcasts (Idle Thumbs, Waypoint Radio, 3MA, the ocasional GB podcasts), but I still accumulated a huge backlog over the years, especially of indie games; it’s easier to justify them since they are often cheaper, usually provide more niche experiences and you at least feel like you’re directly supporting the creators and not just a huge corporation.

Something that really helped me avoid the FOMO/hype trap that probably won’t be applicable to anyone else was to swear off buying games from Steam for almost three years, spurred on by a particularly bad streak of Valve’s disingenuous libertarian nonsense. I primarily play on the PC and there’s only one local digital games store with a pretty limited library in my country so that meant I had to severely reduce the amount of games I was purchasing, stuff that before this self-imposed ban I would buy just to be part of the conversation. This also had the side benefit of me turning more to itch.io and discovering a lot of wonderful games over there for free or cheap enough for me to be able to buy them despite the conversion rate. This year I’m back to buying things from Steam again, but the experience made me a lot more thoughtful when it comes to my consumption habits for sure.

I also think my priorities just changed over the years and I just don’t have as much free time or sometimes even energy to dedicate to games; it’s easier for me to play more of Spelunky 2 than load up a 30h+ RPG that’s been sitting in my backlog for who knows how many years.

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A big thing that helped with fomo for me was recognizing what I really want to play. Sure I could enjoy a myriad of different games and genres but that usually led me to spreading myself so thin I either burnt out or just rushed playing. Once I realized that my bread and butter since childhood has been rpgs and jrpgs that’s what I really focused on. It made things much more enjoyable and looking forward to games I wanted to play instead of what was hot. Sure there are some titles that get me excited and branch out (hades being the perfect example and also arguably a perfect game) but generally I’ve been really content with my playing habits and not experiencing fomo for every major release.

Thanks everyone for the suggestions! I’ve actually been doing some of these, like writing down the games I play and subsequently writing about them, so maybe that’s been helping and I didn’t know it!

Some things I’m going to start doing:

  • Know what I like and don’t like

I like trying to understand why people like things, and so I’ll often spend time and money trying to understand certain genres (even outside of games, but the investment isn’t as high). It’s why I have bought large metroidvanias (Hollow Knight), roguelites (Dead Cells), and time-based sims (Stardew Valley) even though I know I don’t like those genres!!!

  • Make a list of games I want to buy, and stick to it

I saw this in a video about board game FOMO, and some other suggested it here. So for all of 2021 I have a list of the ONLY games I’m going to buy, shared it with my wife so I’ll be accountable. Some exception for games that haven’t been announced like a probable new Pokemon game, but it’s a good start.

  • Check out Abnormal Mapping

I still value talk and critique about video games! So I’ll look up abnormal mapping (I do follow Dia because of their contributions as a freelance writer for Waypoint, so good to know there will be a familiar voice!)

Thanks everyone!

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Abnormal Mapping is really good! The flagship podcast is probably my favorite games podcast, for a bunch of different reasons. First off, it’s monthly, so if I don’t have time to listen to the latest episode right away I don’t get stuck in an endless podcast debt spiral. Second, they’re a games club focusing on older games, with an extensive back catalogue. You could start by listening to old episodes about games you really love, and then listen to their conversations about more obscure titles. Lastly, and I think most importantly, they are aware of their own biases in a way that makes their critique so much more digestible. The hosts understand why they like things, and they’re good at articulating it as well, so I can come away from an episode having a pretty good idea if I’d like the game, regardless of how they felt about it.

The rest of the podcasts on the network are great too, and most aren’t games related. Repertory Screenings (a film podcast) and the Great Gundam Project (the definitive Gundam podcast) are both great and worth dipping your toes into!

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