Friday, July 13, 2012

Surviving the Steam Summer Sale

"Rejoice, cheer. The day is here!
The day your wallet knows to fear.
Affordable gaming will prevail,
In the face of the latest STEAM SUMMER SALE."

Oh dear. Times are hard, and if you are anything like me then your expenditure on games this year has been decimated somewhat. Admittedly, a large part of this is due to just how few games released are inspiring in any way, at least in the AAA realm. The HD consoles have been fed a diet of so much more of the same that they are now to all intents and purposes bloated twins, with only the existence of downloadable titles to save them. PC gaming has been increasingly aiming towards digital only for a long time already, and Steam has been so far ahead of the curve for so long that the curve now resembles a flat line with a dot several miles above it.

Part of Steam's success is down to how bloody useful it is. Digital Rights Management may be universally hated, yet nobody minds the Steam version. Because it has a friends list, achievements, and facilities that allow your titles to be automatically updated. You can log in on any machine, and your entire account exists in "The Cloud", which means that even your save files can be stored there. This may seem like magic if you are a console-only player, but it is the reality that has been around for the last few years.

By far the best thing about Steam, though, is the sales. Twice a year at least, the entire catalogue gets discounted to almost obscene levels. Big titles are frequently sold at 75% off. The general format is that everything is discounted, but every day a selection get highlighted with further discounts. This year, they have added some new ideas in to the mix. We now get to vote on which title from a selection of 3 gets featured, as well as the new "Flash Sales". These are available for 8-12 hours, which means that as well as checking the store at the start of the day (6pm GMT), WE NOW NEED TO BE LOOKING SEVERAL TIMES A DAY! The obvious effect of this is that more people look, which means more people buy, and everyone makes more money.

Cheaper games leads to better sales. PLEASE read that sentence, games publishers everywhere. (Particularly YOU, EA!)

Of course, seasoned customers have learned to worry. This is because when we see some of the incredible bargains that are available, we just can't resist. Impulse purchases are probably responsible for three-quarters of the titles in my own Steam library. I can get a bit silly, and because of this I feel I need to help my fellow gamers. So, with that in mind, here are my 5 rules for making the most of a Steam Sale.


Most of the entire catalogue is discounted. However, some of them are discounted even more during any given day. The new votes and Flash Sales mean that there are even more opportunities to get a game cheaper than it costs RIGHT NOW. Which means that the wise person will not buy a game unless it happens to be featured as a Daily Deal or a Flash Sale. If it never reaches this state, then simply buy it on the last day. You lost nothing but a few days.


Often, a game is available at a frankly unbelievable price. If you see it, GET IT IMMEDIATELY. It has been known in the past for games to go on sale, only for the price to rise during the day. Perhaps it was incorrectly priced, perhaps the publishers got greedy. The reason is irrelevant. You pay the price on the screen, and if it changes later you won't be charged the extra. So there is no reason to delay, provided of course that you are following Rule 1.


There are many games that you have looked at and thought "I like the looks of that one, but can't afford it today." Well, here is your chance. Set yourself a pricepoint, and look at EVERYTHING that it includes. There are some gems on Steam that don't get the attention they deserve. When they cost £1.49, you owe it to yourself to try it out.


Conversely, there are many games out there that you have already written off as "Not my kind of thing." and have therefore not even looked at the price. Well, keep that mindset. No matter how cheap Railworks gets, if you already know you'll never play it, DON'T BUY IT. Stick to your guns, even if it goes down to £0.01. That's money you don't need to spend, and money you may need by the last day.


One of the beautiful things about Steam is the friend integration. If you buy a game, all your friends will see this. It also has a Wishlist feature, and when looking at a game's product page, you can see which of your friends want it. Multiplayer games, in particular, are generally sold in packs of 2 or 4, so that you can give a "Gift" copy to anyone with a Steam account. (Or even just an email address if they don't have one.) Which means that, should you be able to afford it, you can make someone very happy. This is behaviour that should be encouraged, because it ALWAYS comes back to you. I frequently gift my friends, and they gift back. Make sure your wishlist is full, as well, because there are usually promotions taking place that allow you to win games from your wishlist. And there are sites that allow you to talk to others looking to trade Steam Gifts. So, take advantage. You might spend £2 on something today only to get something much more valuable to you in the future.

So, go forth. Consume. Multiply! Most of all, have fun. There is a world of gaming out there that you may not be utilising to its fullest. (Most importantly of all, remember the Wishlist thing!)

1 comment:

  1. Happy to hear that I followed your suggested method without realising it... so how much did you get in the end? My list is much too long to be sensible. Why not - here it is: Wizorb, Cubemen, Jamestown Deluxe, Indie Game: The Movie, Binding Of Isaac Bundle, Half Life Complete Collection, Poker Night At The Inventory, Really Big Sky, Waveform, Tropico 3 Gold, Civilization V GOTY, Serious Sam Complete Collection, Dear Esther + Soundtrack, Mirror's Edge, Age Of Empires 3 Complete, DEFCON, SpaceChem, AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! for the Awesome, Ticket To Ride, Trauma, Sim City 4 Deluxe, Total War Mega Pack, Dragon Age: Origins Ultimate Edition, BIT.TRIP Collection, The Longest Journey, Dreamfall, Swords & Soldiers Sausage Fest DLC, Plants vs Zombies (Gifted), The Witcher: Enhanced Edition, Fallout 3 GOTY, Burnout Paradise: Ultimate Box, Oblivion GOTY Deluxe, Morrowind GOTY, Borderlands GOTY, Civilization IV: Complete Edition, Command and Conquer Franchise, Civilization III: Complete, Bioshock Franchise.