Reflections on Steam’s 2013 Summer Sale

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The 2013 Summer Steam Sale is winding down as I write this. It is with sadness that I bid my favourite bi-annual event goodbye, because I really enjoy the 2 weeks or so of insane savings offered by my favourite digital distribution platform. The only thing I love more than games, apparently, is getting them cheap.

As such, I am very happy with what the $47.20 I spent bought me. At normal prices, that money wouldn’t be enough for a 3-month-old AAA game like Metro: Last Light, but thanks to the sale I ended up with 9 different games. The average price I paid for each worked out to just $5.24; that’s even less than many of the budget titles you’ll find on store shelves today, and therefore a really good deal.

I love Steam’s sales because for the rest of the year, gaming ain’t cheap. Usually, games cost $59.99 for recently-released AAA titles, $49.99 for three-month-old games, and older titles can be had for anything from $39.99 to $19.99, but on Steam’s sales, those prices are slashed. They can be discounted by anything from 25% to 85%, and it’s nice to know that twice a year, I have the opportunity to pick up games I might have missed for cheap.

The other reason I like Steam’s sales is that occasionally I have been tempted by a good price to buy a game I wouldn’t have considered otherwise, and been surprised at what I had been missing. That has created goodwill in my mind for the developers of those games, which in turn has encouraged me to look more closely at their other games. It’s a win for both parties – developers make a bit more money and win customers, and I get games for cheap.

EA, that other company with its own digital distribution platform has denounced the idea of ridiculously-low 75%-off sales, saying they “cheapen intellectual property”. They are just plain wrong in my mind. I know why they have taken this stance – they’re claiming to be defending the hard work done by the people who make games when really they’re just trying to squeeze as much money as possible from their customers – but the awesome benefits of sales far outweigh any negatives.

Let me explain.

Games are like cars, in that their value depreciates the older they get. Publishers and developers don’t lose out if, months after their games were released, sales are stimulated by a dramatic slashing of prices. They’ve made the bulk of their money by that time anyway, and any additional cash is essentially money for jam, not to mention great PR for their upcoming titles. They win, and gamers win.

I think EA believes that every discount means “lost” money, but I don’t think that’s true at all – there’s no guarantee that those on-sale purchases would have happened at full price anyway. Not only that, but the “losses” due to discounts could possibly be made up by the volume of people who are happier paying the discounted price, so I’m still not seeing the down-side.

Whatever the case, the Steam Summer Sale has come and gone, and many gamers – including me – are now the proud owners of a bunch of new titles that they didn’t have to sell a kidney to afford. Of course, now we’re all facing that perennial problem of the ever-growing backlog, but that doesn’t really matter – what’s important is that we have new games, and they were cheap.

All hail, Gabe Newell and the other good folks at Valve. See you all again at Christmas.

Deon du Plessis

Deon du Plessis

Deon got his first taste of PC gaming at the tender age of 11 when his father bought an 8088 XT, ostensibly to "help him with his homework". Instead, it introduced him to Leisure Suit Larry, King Graham, Sonny Bonds and many more, and Deon has been a PC gamer and hardware enthusiast ever since. He landed his first professional writing gig in 2006 at a prestigious local PC magazine, a very happy happenstance as he got to write for a living about things he loves - tech, PCs, gaming, and everything in between. He's been writing about it all ever since, and loves every minute of it.