Life After PlayStation (or How I Turned Green)

Yesterday I took my beloved PlayStation 4 Pro to GameMania, a bag full of games for it (and a couple unwanted Switch cartridges) and asked them how much store credit they’d give me in exchange. It was sufficiently generous, so the deal was done. I came home with half a dozen Xbox One games (all of which were replacements for my favourites of those I’d just traded in). Also Dark Souls Remastered for Switch, but that’s another story.

I’d made the decision to ditch the PS4 the previous night; after once again trying to make progress in Spider-Man and being unable to hear the game at suitable-for-that-time-of-night volume levels because the system’s cooling fan was making a terrible racket. Spider-Man isn’t even the worst offender, with Horizon Zero Dawn and God of War being two main offenders. It was driving me to distraction and after trying in vain to solve the issue – removing the top of the console to see that the fan was indeed clean, turning off Pro-related settings such as boost mode and supersampling – I was at my wits end.

One option, I supposed, was to trade my Pro and pay the difference for a PS4 Slim. A smaller, nicer looking console, I hoped the Slim maybe wouldn’t have the same problem. But maybe it would, and I’d essentially be paying good money to downgrade my PlayStation 4.

So I instead went for plan B and dumped the system. As I said up there, I received fair compensation for my traded games and console, more than I expected by some margin, so everyone was happy. I even went back this morning (with the controller I’d forgotten to put in the box with the console – the shop manager knows me well enough that he hadn’t checked the console before accepting it!) and traded the rest of my PS4 games – all of them except for the system exclusives, leaving me with around 25 games to stick in my cupboard of forgotten things.

A part of the decision that weighed heavily was the loss of 90 downloaded games that I would receive no compensation for. They’d just be gone. But then I have 330 on Steam and haven’t had a PC in five years. I got over that. It’s just a shame to have wasted so much money on them. But at least, like Steam, they remain on my account, ready to be downloaded to a PS4 that I may purchase in the future. I just wish I’d backed up my saves before I initialised the console…

So, the benefits of having dumped a system (bearing in mind that I also own an Xbox One and a Switch). I’ve drastically reduced the number of games I have on disc. My Xbox One is full of downloaded games, mostly the Forza Motorsport and Horizon series and dozens of older Xbox Live Arcade titles that carried over from my Xbox 360. Disc-wise I now have 22 for that system, around two thirds of which were replacements for PS4 games I just got rid of. I have a similar number of Xbox and Xbox 360 discs on the same shelf that are backwards compatible. So, say 44 discs. Before I had all those older Xbox games, about 8 Xbox One discs, and 90 PS4 discs. I’d literally spend several minutes choosing a game before playing – which is one reason I have moved more towards downloading games.

Decluttering is good for the soul. Tidy a messy room, you’ll feel good in the end. Clear out a drawer full of useless tat, you’ll feel cleansed. This is kind of how I feel having drastically reduced my gaming life. I prefer the Xbox One in general – the controller being the main factor, also the backwards compatibility, but mostly (for the sake of this text) because it’s silent even when the fan gets going. Let’s just leave Switch out of this. That’s a different thing altogether.

The main upshot of all this is that my Xbox One has become exciting once more. I bought it about a year ago, a Forza Horizon 3 Hot Wheels bundle, purely to play the Forza games (after being bitterly disappointed by Gran Turismo Sport on PS4). Over the next few months it took more and more of my time, particularly as I expanded my Forza collection, but also revisiting old favourites from the previous Xbox consoles. Every now and then I’d think I’d better give my PS4 a play tonight, it’s been a while. Now, without that distraction, my Xbox One is my main source of entertainment, and it’s great.

So my advice to you, dear reader, is this. If you find yourself stuck in a gaming rut, with so many games that you don’t know what to play, get rid of some of them. The ones you’ve had for a year or more but never played. The ones you bought because you know all your friends on Twitter would be really impressed you have it, even though they’ll never meet you in real life to find out. You don’t need them, and cleaning up your collection just may be the thing that makes gaming exciting again.

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