When it comes to Steam sales, you always remember your first. That first binge where your library exponentially increases, as you are constantly amazed by the low prices on games you don’t particularly want and will never likely play. You’ve never seen prices so low, your whole understanding of the term deal is transformed and your view on game pricing is skewed. You look at a game that came out less than a year ago and start to ask yourself if five dollars is too much? It’s a special kind of insanity that gradually erodes your wallet and gives any gamer an insurmountable backlog of games.
I remember my first steam sale, it was Christmas of 2010 and I was just getting into PC gaming. I set myself a budget for the sale and binged like a man possessed. I felt a compulsive need to fill up my library, buying games I thought I should own rather than games I wanted to play. It spoke to the collector in me, the side of me that wants to build up an impressive library for the sake of it. This was back before flash sales, it was the time where bundles were the big thing. You would find yourself buying a massive collection just because one game in it appealed, but the overall price was still low enough for this to make some kind of sense. Needless to say, my library got quite a big bigger.
Unfortunately, as every subsequent sale passes the excitement lessens. I’m now at the stage where I own so many steam games that sales inherently carry less appeal. The same games appear sale after sale and a lot of the more recent releases are games I bought at launch. However, the 2014 summer sale still managed to grab me, in fact it grabbed me in a way no sale has since my first in 2010.
My obsession with this year’s steam sale wasn’t really down to the games on sale. I made merely three purchases this time: Woodcutter Simulator 2013, Euro Truck Simulator 2 and Tropico 4. As a friend pointed out on facebook (in regard to the first two purchases), it has got to the point that I own so many steam games that I am now buying things as a joke… It’s kind of a ludicrous and depressing situation to be in.
I really need to stop.
The real kicker of all this came when I realised I couldn’t get Woodcutter simulator to run. I have tried several times but it never gets past the logo slideshow at the beginning. Money well spent.
What hooked me this year was the voting. This sale there was a different group of games on sale every eight hours, and in the time betweeen you got to pick between two groups, the one which got the majority of votes being the group that would go on sale next. Me and a couple of friends just went crazy about it. We weren’t excited about picking games so we could buy them cheap, we just liked the act of picking one set of games over another. We had a little conversation going in facebook where we would say what we voted for and justify our decisions. A lot of the time I was voting for games that I owned, but I got a real joy from trying to put games I really love on sale. At one point a group had Dragon Age: Origins and Gone Home in it, two of my favourite games, and voting for them made me feel like I was spreading the word. Also some groups had Dark Souls in them, so I had to vote for them, because Dark Souls. I like feeling like I have some input in boosting the sales of game’s I love, allowing more and more people to enjoy these fantastic experiences.
The other side of it was cards, every few votes got you a steam card and I voted every single time. The cards were special summer sale ones that you could craft together to make a badge. This badge was all part of some grand board game thing, where you were placed in a team and crafting badges got you points. The team with the most points per day won and at the end of the sale there was an overall winner. I was in red team and red team won, I didn’t contribute anything to the team though.
I really didn’t see the point in the game. The winning team got the prize of thirty random (contributing) members getting three games from their wishlist, but the chances of this happening to me were pretty slim so I didn’t partake. Crafting the badge took ten different cards and I regularly got duplicates, which would have made my life frustrating if I ever cared about attaining the whole set. Instead, I just sold my cards on the market, which was fun. This complimented the sale nicely, putting money into my wallet that I could then spend on games down the line, not much money but enough to entice me to buy games I otherwise wouldn’t (hence the simulators). It was the thrill of the vote though that kept me coming back and I miss it now it’s gone. I actually wish Valve could find a way to keep voting as a permanent thing in Steam. It would be a lot of effort on their part, but it would keep me really engaged and trap me further in their ecosystem. They have daily deals but they could run another deal segment which is voted for by users, maybe having it weekly rather than daily.
I don’t know where Steam sales go from here, I hope that the next activity is more compelling than this year’s board game and I hope that voting becomes more prevalent. They may get a little less exciting every time, but they are still constantly impressive and I love knowing that every steam sale is somebody’s first one. You may feel underwhelmed by what are actually crazy deals, but know that somewhere, somebody is having their mind blown. So vote for your favourite games and let others get a chance to love what you’ve loved in the past…. Now, let’s see if I can cut some virtual wood.