I don’t want to hear whining because this info is a “no duh” for you game pros. It wasn’t that long ago that we all experienced our first Steam sale. Maybe you even have a few games from that sale that you haven’t gotten around to. But let’s be honest, the Steam sale is emotionally and economically draining (damaging? Invigorating?) for us all. So I’ve written this post to give a psychological lift and some sound advice for how I get through one of the hardest wallet-hitting parts of the summer.
For those of you who don’t know what Steam is, if you care about gaming at all you should get it. It’s a great platform for buying all sorts of games without having to leave your gaming chair. Each summer they do an amazing sale where games are insanely discounted. So here are my tips for surviving the sale.
Tip 1: They won’t run out of copies
When the Steam summer sale was announced, many of us were unable to log in. Some of us waited 30 minutes, some of us had to wait hours. I… well to put it bluntly I about lost my mind hitting the refresh button. But, when reflecting back on it, it’s pretty silly. These are digital games. They won’t run out if you won’t make it within the first 15 minutes of a sale being announced. Breathe; let your connection beef up a bit; things will be ok.
Tip 2: 1:00 is really important
1:00pm is the most important time during the Steam sale. Not only is it when the 24 hour games role over, but it also lines up with the flash sales. Timing looks like this:
Daily Deals: 24 hours, switches at 1pm daily
Flash Sales: 8 hours, switches at 1pm, 9pm, 5am daily
Community Choice: 8 hours, switches at 1pm, 9pm, 5am daily
Yesterday’s Big Deals: 24 hours, switches at 1pm daily
As you can see, the biggest change takes place at 1pm. If you work or sleep in, that’s cool, but you need to check on Steam between 1-9 to get the most out of the sale (preferably, at 8:30 and 9:30pm… like anyone could wait until 8:30 to check the sale).
Tip 3: If it isn’t on the front page, don’t panic
Just because games aren’t on the front page doesn’t mean that they aren’t on sale. Sometimes there are incredible deals, up to 80% off, that aren’t even listed. If you’re looking for one specific game, you can just look it up to see if it’s on sale anyway. You can also sign up for Steam to contact you when it does go on sale. I just got Remember Me for $30 by using the latter method.
Tip 4: If you paid more, don’t beat yourself up
The Steam sale, at its heart, is a game. It’s a game in patience, in foresight, in self-restraint. So you just paid $6 on Fez and now it’s up for a community choice option for $4. It’s ok. You couldn’t have known. And in the end, our dollars are going to help people make even better games. Some sites like Good Old Games have explicitly stated that heavily discounting games, such as during the Steam summer sale, hurts game developers because they aren’t getting the money they need to develop more games. So be thankful that someone sat in his Canadian apartment for 7 years to make a game you now just bought for $6, and let it go.
Tip 5: Here’s the deal with trading cards
Trading cards are a Steam thing where you get these virtual cards for playing games and for other random stuff (such as buying games during the Steam sale!). I thought they seemed really dumb at first, but upon researching them a little more I have changed my mind. You take the cards and can turn them into Steam badges or achievements. Badges earn you XP toward your Steam level (yep, you have a Steam level now). But none of that is why I think it’s kinda cool. I think that it’s a good idea because it helps further build community around gameplay, which is especially important with solo games like Sims. Me and say, my friend Jeff, can get Portal 2 badges through playing on Steam and trade with each other to earn badges and xp. I mean, that’s one of the reasons we all play on Steam right? Brag about our achievements, rate games, see what others are playing. It’s a natural place to further develop community, and I’m glad they’re at least trying something, even if it’s a little corny J
In the end…
I’ve been pretty restrained so far in my purchases, partly because we had company in town and I couldn’t check as often as I would have liked, partly because Steam dropped my credit card info and I drug my feet on putting my new one in, and partly because I haven’t loved (or already owned) a good chunk of what’s been for sale. But here it goes:
Mark of the Ninja (regularly: 14.99; paid: 7.49)
Age of Empires II (regularly: 19.99; paid: 9.99)
System Shock 2 (regularly: 9.99; paid: 2.49)
Remember Me (regularly; 49.99; paid 29.99)
The Night of the Rabbit with soundtrack, 8 audiobooks, and original comic (regularly: 24.99; paid: 16.74)
I think I’ve done fairly well so far. I typically like to buy up a bunch of indie games for 1-5 dollars, and I may still do that. The sale is young.
Now it’s your turn. I know Sam is chomping at the bit to get in on this post and share her wealth of wisdom about the Steam sale. To all of you: What advice do you have for noobies? What have you bought so far? What are you looking forward to going on sale?