In whatever sport, in whatever hobby, there's a secret rule among everyone that says you have to stay on top of all the news and updates. You have to know the latest trends and have the latest products. This secret rule makes use of people's Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). It's a form of social anxiety derived from missing out on an exciting or interesting event. Just like in other hobbies, there is such a thing as FOMO in gaming. And FOMO in gaming, just like anywhere else, makes it hard for us to truly enjoy the games we love.
With social media and clever digital marketing, marketers have exploited FOMO to sell more of their products. Marketers in the gaming industry also have many tactics at their disposal. We'll cite a few examples here and show their effects on you as the player. Then, we explain how to combat it and help you enjoy games at your own pace. Gaming is full of content. Not getting overwhelmed may be a big challenge. That's why it's important to learn how marketers can use games to control more and more of your life, sending you into an abyss that will eat up your time and money, making you play games you don't enjoy. Here's our piece on FOMO in gaming and how you can beat it.
WHY TALKING ABOUT FOMO IN GAMING MATTERS – THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SOCIAL ANXIETY AND GAMING DISORDER
While some people might see this issue as some kind of “First World Problem,” FOMO in gaming is an important topic that may actually affect all kinds of gamers. FOMO in gaming can lead to addiction to video games, a condition that the World Health Organization has classified as a mental disorder. There's still a stigma with regards to people who love playing video games. As such, studies regarding their mental health have often been overlooked. It should be clear to anyone that gaming, just like any activity, is dangerous in excess. Therefore, we should do our best to prevent ourselves from getting addicted to video games.
Gaming addiction's relationship to FOMO in gaming is not clear as day, mostly due to lack of research. But it's a topic that researchers have been paying more attention to. There's a growing interest in FOMO in gaming, with leading hypotheses suggesting that it can lead to gaming disorder. For example, a study found that FOMO in gaming has both direct and indirect impact on the development of gaming disorder.
As proponents of responsible and healthy gaming, we want to do our part in helping others who may have a gaming disorder or are on their way to developing one. Therefore, we want to at least help gamers realize what they're dealing with. Teach them what FOMO in gaming is, how to identify it, and how to eliminate it. We believe that, in the long run, gaming in moderation allows for a more enjoyable gaming experience. Having a healthy gaming lifestyle is not only beneficial to a gamer's well-being; it also accentuates the experience of enjoying the hobby.
FEAR OF MISSING OUT (FOMO) STRATEGY #1: THE DAILY GRIND IN MOBILE GAMES
Mobile games have saturated the market, and everyone's grandma plays them. In these games, there are “features” that are so prevalent that they have become the norm in mobile games. These “features” consist of slight inconveniences that don't really affect their ability to play the game. However, there are too many of these features that they pile up and accumulate. This is more prevalent in what we call “gacha games,” games where content is locked behind a slot machine. Materials required to unlock content are hard to come by. The only way to get them is by constantly playing, joining limited-time events, or shelling out cash. At the end of the day, these games force players to make a decision: either they play the game constantly to bypass these features or pay up with their wallet.
There are players who choose to just pay for the content. We call them “whales.” If you're not a whale, then you have to prepare to include the game in your daily routine: make time for it to complete all daily quests, clear limited-time missions, and acquire the materials you need just to keep up.
The solution is simple but hard to stick to. You simply have to stop competing with the whales. For all intents and purposes, most mobile games don't really have any multiplayer. You play these games alone but with arbitrary barometers meant to make you anxious about your performance compared to others. You will never be the best in these games. Therefore, the healthy way to enjoy them is to ignore the “multiplayer” elements. Treat gacha games as a single-player experience. Once you clear the currently available content, resist the urge to participate in “grinds.” Most of the time, they really aren't worth the effort, anyway. You might as well spend your time playing other games that you'd actually enjoy. Let's avoid becoming slaves to the games we play.
FOMO STRATEGY #2: PRE-ORDERING BROKEN GAMES
A game that you've been following since its announcement at E3 approaches its release date. The devs have opened pre-orders, and you're tempted to get them. After all, there are many benefits offered for pre-orders: exclusive skins, physical freebies, or additional in-game content. Do you shell out and pay up before you even receive a game? Are these pre-order bonuses ever worth it?
The answer, most of the time, is no. Gamers generally give advice to others, never to pre-order games. Most video game publishers focus on marketing and promoting a game to get as many people to throw their cash at it before actually receiving a product. I must admit, I've fallen prey to this strategy countless times before. To be honest, I've fallen not only for Cyberpunk 2077 but also with No Man's Sky. I can confidently say that I'm an expert when it comes to this topic.
Let's see what pre-ordering these games have gotten me. No Man's Sky was a total disaster at launch, barely being playable and barely having any content. It was a very bad experience, making me regret my purchase. But Hello Games eventually salvaged No Man's Sky, so everything's fine in the end, right? Wrong. By the time that they've fixed the game, I've already lost my interest and have moved on to other games. While No Man's Sky was eventually a good game now, it wasn't a good game when I was playing it.
Then comes Cyberpunk 2077. How did it turn out? Well, simply put, not that great. But if we explore the history of CDPR, we can hope that they can also make No Man's Sky levels of redemption. They've done exactly just that with Witcher 3, anyway, so what makes Cyberpunk 2077 any different?
Both cases show the virtue of patience. I reckon, by the time CD Projekt Red has fixed all of the issues with Cyberpunk 2077, I've probably moved on already and will be playing the fiftieth installment of Assassin's Creed on the PS10. But have I waited, I could have picked up No Man's Sky later and allowed myself to experience a much more polished, much more realized version of the game. If I had waited longer, I could have gotten a Game of the Year edition of Cyberpunk 2077, just like what I did with The Witcher 3.
The point is, you're doing yourself a massive disservice for playing games, especially Triple-A games, at launch. Don't jump into the hype. Don't waste your time playing a broken game. Buy games when they've already been perfected, not before. After all, you can't even be sure if developers will eventually fix their games. For every The Witcher 3 and No Man's Sky, there are countless Batman: Arkham Knights and Fallout 76s.
But what about the freebies that come with the game? If they're digital content, you're most likely not even going to notice they're not there. Chances are, Deluxe Editions, Collector's Editions, and Game of the Year Editions will include them, so you might not be missing out anyway. For physical rewards, you're better off buying them in the secondary market, as most of the time they don't really appreciate in value. Those who do might be worth picking up in the secondary market anyway, regardless of the state of the game.
FOMO STRATEGY #3: PC GAMING'S ADDICTION TO PERFECTION
There's a subculture in PC gaming that is extremely obsessed with getting the perfect gaming rig. 120fps gaming, at 8K resolution, Ultra quality, with no frame drops whatsoever. They can't seem to enjoy games without having the latest components, and a single frame drop will ruin their day. Meanwhile, PC parts manufacturers exploit this by consistently producing products that may or may not be a necessary upgrade from the previous version. They also have a diverse set of ambiguously named components that can confuse newcomers to PC building.
Now, the question is, is it advisable to always have the latest graphics card, processor, and the like? The answer is no. It's very expensive to keep up with the trend, and the benefits you get are very incremental. It's also wasteful. It's the highest form of indulgence, and it's totally unnecessary. But if you can afford to do it in a sustainable manner, then, by all means, do so. However, that's not the case for most of us, and this kind of behavior can cause FOMO in gaming for many of us. It's time to assure everyone that it's OK not to have the latest graphics cards for their PCs.
Clear your backlogs. The reason why people obsess over the latest PC parts is that they feel the need to play the latest games in Ultra settings. For most of us, that's just not sustainable. Instead of giving in to the hype train and playing only the latest games, you can do well to just finish the games you already have. Fun fact: the irony of modern games is that many of them are jam-packed with content, but players rarely finish them.
In fact, it's just impossible to keep up with all the games that come out. Video games nowadays are so packed with content that it will take you literally thousands of hours to complete some of them. That's how The Completionist made a career out of gaming. Most of us don't even bother finishing our games.
AN ANECDOTE FROM SOMEONE WHO ACTUALLY ENJOYED CYBERPUNK 2077
There are also some profound benefits from this. Take my experience, for example. In a long while, Cyberpunk 2077 was the first game I've played on Day 1. I only recently upgraded my PC and have been abstaining from buying any Triple-A game released past 2017. I thought – what's the point of playing these games if I can't run them smoothly, anyway? So when I got Cyberpunk 2077 and played it on my new PC with Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti, it swept me off the floor. I loved the game and enjoyed it so much that I wondered why many people have been hating on it.
But then I played Assassin's Creed Odyssey, released in 2018, and Yakuza 0, released in 2018 for Windows. I realized just how behind Cyberpunk 2077 was and understood the criticisms gamers had about the game. Had I not played these two other games, I would have been perfectly fine with Cyberpunk 2077. Imagine all the times before when we were all still isolated in our own little worlds, not having the benefit of sharing experiences across the Internet. If we had Cyberpunk 2077 years ago, it could have easily become a lot of players' guilty pleasure, and many would have enjoyed it, flaws and all.
CONCLUSION: IT'S OK TO BE LATE FOR THE PARTY
Being late for the party is OK. You'll always have people to talk to about the game in the future. There's absolutely no reason why you should have FOMO in gaming. There even exists support groups on Reddit for those who play games years after the release date. The lesson here is that you should live your life at your own pace. Never fear that you're getting left behind by anyone. Enjoy every moment of the games you play, no matter how old or how new they are. And if you can no longer enjoy a game, don't be afraid to let go of them and move on.
Not having FOMO in gaming is a wonderful thing. It's liberating, and it makes playing video games more fun. It prevents burnout. It elevates the value of the games we play. Reducing your FOMO in gaming is a healthier way of living the gamer lifestyle.
We hope that this article has helped you face your FOMO in gaming. Break free from the shackles of Triple-A games and the pitfalls of PC building. This will help you live a healthier, more fulfilling gamer lifestyle.