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Valve Corporation’s Steam is known for many things, but one of the services most prominent aspects is the game sales. The sales often range from 10 percent off to a massive 80 percent off individual games and game packages, making it a viable and popular option for low-budget PC gamers. In both the Summer and Holiday seasons, Steam has a very large sale on a variety of games, usually with the sales sporting an overall theme relating to the season. While having many games on sale, the service usually sports daily deals for specific games, giving customers a reason to come back to the service at least once a day.

While these massive sales make customers happy and definitely gain the service new consumers, they can also be devastating. If one enters a massive Steam sale unprepared, they may end up with hundreds of games but no leftover money for food. This is the sad tale of thousands* and with the Summer sale already upon us, many will suffer the unfortunate fate. However, let this be a momentous occasion; you are reading the first ever survival guide to a massive Steam sale. Here you will understand what kind of shopping individual you are, what practices must be learned, and how to avoid not having any bread for tomorrow.
Shopper #1: The Willing Person

This term relates to the individual who has been waiting for this opportunity. Whether it is because they have finished all of their other games or it is because they have been eyeing several new triple-A titles but are not willing to pay full price for them, this person wants new experiences at good prices. However, being too willing to spend money can cause an individual to not take full advantage of their opportunities that lie before them. These three tips will help you to get the most out of a massive Steam sale.
Tip #1: Do Not Buy Games Because They Are Cheap
Of course, this may sound a weird, especially as the first tip, but please see me to the end of this. Let us say that a turn-based role-playing game is on sale during the Steam sale, you find the price rather attractive, and decide to buy the game. Now, do you like turn-based role-playing games? If the answer is yes, then you made a wise purchasing decision. However, if you do not like turn-based role-playing games, then you most likely wasted several dollars that could have been spent on another, more pleasing game. What I am attempting to communicate is that you should not buy games simply because they are on sale. To summarize, purchase games in genres that you enjoy. And if you do decide to step out of your normal array of genres, then keep in mind that you may regret your purchasing decision.
Tip #2: Be Patient
The way Steam has run its seasonal sales has been interesting; each day of the sale, new games get a 24-hour specific greater reduction in price. This means that every day new games will be displayed on the front page as the daily deals. However, this also means that early buyers of certain games will not be allowed to take advantage of the better deals that arise when their chosen games get picked as the daily deals. Assuming that aspect will stay for future sales, a Steam-using individual should wait for their game of choice to either be selected as the daily deal before purchasing or they should wait until the last day of the sale. When the last day of the sale approaches, one can be guaranteed they are getting their game of choice for the best price available to them.
Tip #3: Have A Healthy Gaming Diet
This tip is going to be a bit alienating at first, but I once again ask for your attention to read this entire paragraph. This is the idea I am trying to communicate; you should not buy too many games from a Steam sale. The reflex reaction most people would have is to call me out and say that I am discouraging them from buying great games at reduced prices ranging from adequate to great. However, I’m not trying to say that. What I mean is that someone should not buy an enormous amount of games from Steam because they may end up not playing them all. I have seen this many times before; not only is it referenced in several articles on professional sites, but many Steam community members have admitted to owning many Steam games but not playing half of them due their backlog looking threatening. I completely admit to this as well; I have about 50 or more games that I have not played and about 80 that I have not beaten simply due to my Steam backlog looking threateningly large. Right now, those 50 un-played games are a waste of money on my part, with those 30 other games being small amounts of enjoyment for the money that I paid. Simply put, do not buy more games than you can play within a decent amount of time.
Shopper #2: The Cautious Individual
This type of shopper is, as the title indicates, cautious. They do want new games, but they are not willing to immediately be impulsive shoppers when whatever game is on sale for a ridiculous price. Either that or they do want new games badly but they also need to have money for things like bread and water. These tips should help these individuals start moving in the right direction of balancing their spending habits with logic.
Tip #1: Know Your Budget
This tip should relate to any shopper of any kind; the person should always know their spending limit. For something like Steam, setting a “Spending Threshold” to reinforce the spending limit is actually rather easy. A spending threshold can be achieved with the Steam Wallet, a function that lets an individual put money directly into their Steam account, after which the only requirements for purchasing a game off of Steam are an account name and the account password. To put money into a Steam wallet, first log into Steam on a browser and click the drop-down menu labeled “[username]’s account”. From there click the option titled “Account Details”. If you have successfully loaded the webpage, it should show all of the Steam accounts transactions since its creation. Locate the button “Add funds to your Steam Wallet” and from there you are able to choose how much money you want to deposit into the account.
Tip #2: Make A List
The easiest way to avoid impulse buys is to create a list of required/wanted items. This is true of games as well. If you want to reduce your risk of giving into faulty instinct, it is best to make a list of games you want the most. For those that are not handy with keeping physical lists, this can be achieved with Steams built-in wishlist feature. And who knows maybe, your friends may buy you a game you want simply because they see it on your wishlist.
Tip #3: Do Not Give Up Hope

If you miss a game that was both on your wishlist and that happened to be a daily deal, do not keep kicking yourself that you missed your golden opportunity. For the past two years, Steam has usually hosted several rerun sales where the most popular games of the sales have been reduced to their special sale prices for another 24 hours. If you happen to miss a sale on a popular game, there’s a good chance that you will see that game at that special price in the future.
Shopper #3: The Broke Man
This is the man who cannot afford or does not intend to spend any money on buying games off of Steam during a massive sale. While it may seem impossible to the several million people that have Steam accounts, it is an achievable task. However, it does require extreme patience and focus. The following tips will aid in accomplishing the behemoth of a goal.
Tip #1: Temporarily “Purge” Your Account
While it may take little self-control to stop buying every game that happens to go on sale, these massive Steam sales easily become the downfalls of many who do not possess enough willpower to resist the allure of awesome games for dirt-cheap prices. One of the sole reasons as to why the willpower of people is destroyed lies in how accessible Steam is; an individual only needs one Steam account before they can buy and download games from any computer that has an internet connection. To restore a person’s resistance to Steam sales, the logical step would be to eliminate the accessibility that Steam offers. While this can be achieved in a few ways, the easiest would most likely be changing the password of a Steam account to a phrase of “Garbage” characters. By either going to a random password generator on the internet (not recommended) or by smashing body parts against a keyboard (highly recommended), one can create a string of completely forgettable characters that usually mean nothing. If one sets their Steam account password to this pointless set of characters, they end up with a Steam account that they do not know the password of. This should eliminate the individual’s access to Steam until they decide to retrieve their password from Steams password recovery system.
Tip #2: Sell The Gaming Computer

Definitely the most extreme of these tips, it may be best to sell the computer that Steam is used on. If a person needs the cash and they barely have enough money, it is best that they remove the component that might cause them to waste their euros. Yes, all that money that has been spent on Steam may be wasted, but not playing all those Steam games leaves room for more time that can be spent on a variety of cheaper activities. If you live near a library, you can spend hundreds of hours reading any genre of literature that appeals to you. If you live near a mountain range, you can spend days hiking and biking. If you are a person who forgot to do your Spring cleaning, maybe it is a good time to catch up. The amount of activities is near endless.
Tip #3: Try Some Free-To-Play Games

Back in early 2011, Valve announced that free-to-play games would be supported on Steam, with its contribution coming in the form of Team Fortress 2. Ignoring that slight outburst of fan rage, this paved the way for many free-to-play games to appear on the service. Right now there are more than 30 free-to-play games on Steam and some of them even support the use of your Steam account instead of the standard, game-specific account. And not only are these free-to-play games just MMO-style grind-fests; while those are present, the games range from Zelda clones to beat-em-ups to firstperson shooters. Not only does this mean that there is a large amount of free game content on Steam, but those games can be great distractions from feeling the need to buy more games. The best part of playing these free-to-play games is that you do not have to perform any hard task; you do not have to temporarily “Purge” your account nor do you have to sell anything off.
We hope that these tips have helped any of you Steam users in any way possible. However, do not think that we are not encouraging gaming. We just want to make sure you gamers out there do not end up poor because of your hobbies.
* No, it’s not.

This is the bio under which all legacy DigitallyDownloaded.net articles are published (as in the 12,000-odd, before we moved to the new Website and platform). This is not a member of the DDNet Team. Please see the article's text for byline attribution.

  • Thank you for this. I only fear that I might have missed a good sale by the time I've finished reading it (just kidding)–darn those flash sales!

  • LOL, good stuff ninja. I went overboard on sales in 2010 and 2011, though have cut way back. It's so easy to get caught up in the rush of sales and buying without really thinking if you are actually going to play the game. Add in the bundles and publisher packs and it can be pretty daunting to get through the backlog.

    I have 76 on there and could probably due without at least half of them. For example: Tropico 3, really? Since when am I into sim's? The Misadventures of PB Winterbottom? I know it was only $1.25, but it runs so poorly and I never played it again. L4D/L4D2? They look awesome, but I don't have time for online group co-op, what I was I thinking? Oddworld? Killing Floor? Great, but no time for co-op. Plants vs Zombies? Ok I guess, but why did I need that for 0.2hrs?


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