If you either A) don’t play PC video games, or B) live under a rock, then it’ll be news to you that Steam has begun its absolutely massive summer sale. This year, though, the insane discounts you can get on games on Steam is more convoluted than ever. No one wants to buy a game for 50% off if they know it’s going to be 80% off in a few hours. How do you save as much as you can while you’re saving as much as you can?
After four years as a Steam user, I’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks to beat the system!
1. Know Thy Enemy
There are multiple kinds of discounts on Steam this time around, and you need to know how each of them works if you’re going to win (and by win, I mean hand Valve your wallet whilst getting as much as possible)!
The first thing you should know is that a vast collection of games on steam (almost all of them) has been marked down to various prices regardless of what day it is.
For instance, a triple A release might be 50% off in the catalog right now, but you can be it’s going to temporarily be cheaper at some point during the sale.
Here’s what I mean by that.
The biggest discounts around are going to mostly be found in the daily deals that Steam’s front page features. Today, Skyrim is half-off, Frozen Synapse is 80% off, Dead Island is 66% off, etc. That will change, but not until late tomorrow. At a set time every day, new deals pop up, but the daily deals from yesterday will remain active for 12 hours after the new day’s deals appear!
Steam has also introduced Flash Sales and Voting Sales this year. The voting sale is a single, discounted game with a marked-down price that lasts for eight hours.
Steam users can vote on which game will be featured next by choosing from a pool of three predetermined games. Right now, Left 4 Dead 2 is 75% off because Steam users voted it to be on sale instead of Portal 2 or Half-Life. Flash Sales are five-hour discounts that appear seemingly at random. Several of them are active at once.
At this point you should start to understand why it’s necessary that you know about all of this!
2. Patience is a virtue
As with every summer sale on Steam, the typically $99 developer packs – huge bundles that include the last several big titles from each given publisher – are marked down to $50. To give you an idea of how awesome this is, take the Ubisoft collection: For fifty dollars, you get Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, Beyond Good and Evil, Driver: San Francisco, From Dust, Might & Magic Heroes VI, R.U.S.E, Rayman Origins, and Splinter Cell: Conviction. Four of those games were released last year. Rayman hasn’t even been out for four months.
It’s a tempting package, but you shouldn’t buy it until the final day of the sale. Why? Simple, in a plethora of games such as that, there are likely going to be some titles that you just won’t enjoy.
Do some research before you make such a big investment to see what games you will or won’t play a lot. The most appealing game in the bundle might go on sale before the event ends, and you can get it for far cheaper than if you paid for the whole bundle!
3. Look before you leap
With the popularity of DLC (downloadable content) nowadays, lots of games that are on sale will also have their DLC on sale. Simply because it’s there, and it’s four dollars, however, doesn’t mean you should bite. Sometimes, DLC won’t be a real content expansion, but may only be something useless or cosmetic.
Again, make sure you pay attention! It’s incredibly easy to blow tons of money on this event.
4. Remember that Steam isn’t the only online retailer!
I admit it, I’m a huge Valve fanboy. I adore Valve, and believe they can do no wrong (okay, so I’m exaggerating slightly). However, Steam is not the only gaming store with a big sale right now!
Everyone’s caught on to the fact that when the Steam sale rolls around, PC gamers like you and me are in the mood to burn some cash. As a result, Amazon.com, gog.com, gamersgate.com and other sites are also marking down games like mad! Take your time and shop around. Something might catch you off-guard!
At the core of taking advantage of the Steam sale is the single concept of patience and research. The better a shopper you are, the better the deals you’re going to pull off. You’ll shrug off buyer’s remorse, and you won’t feel cheated when that brand new game suddenly goes down to fifteen bucks. Happy hunting!