Steam's annual Summer Sale started today. Before you empty your wallet, here are some helpful tips to make sure you get the most for your money and catch the titles you really want.
It's the time of year that every PC gamer either loves or dreads (depending on the size of their bank balance.) Yup. the Steam 'Summer' Sale is back! The first round of Steam sales have already gone up and there are some killer deals to be had - you can score up to 90 per cent off. Let's take a look at the highlights!
If you're not familiar with Steam's regular sales, the Summer Sale is usually around mid June/July and can net gamers huge discounts on popular titles released during the first half of the year. Even popular, best-selling and newly released titles can see huge discounts to the tune of 75-90 per cent off in some cases. Those discounts are hard to resist, but there's a method to Steam's madness. Here's how to get the games you want for as little as possible.
Fill Up Your Wishlist Now
One of Steam's best features is that it will send you an email alert when a game on your wishlist goes on sale. It's both a blessing and a curse -- you'll be able to jump right on that sale, but you also may jump on a sale that's a little premature. We'll get to how to tell when your favourite game is discounted as deep as it's going to get in a second, but for the time being go ahead and load up your wishlist with titles you've been meaning to check out. That way you'll at least be notified, and you won't miss them.
Know Your Steam Sale Types
Each Steam sale has a few different types of discounts going on at the same time:
- The broad, store-wide discount that any game not released in the past six months gets. This discount is usually anywhere between 25 per cent to 90 per cent.
- Today's highlighted deals. These discounts are featured on the front page. They're generally a bit steeper, but still in the 50-75 per cent range.
- Price specific deals. These deals are for the frugal gamer - you can pick between Under $5 and Under $10.
When to Buy, and When to Skip
The last day of the Steam Sale is almost always an Encore Sale, where the most popular deals come back at the same discounts. That's when you get to buy whatever you missed -- or whatever else you may want.
While it's a few years old, this thread at GameFAQs sums up the rules pretty clearly, and some of the other posters offer a few more points to consider when shopping Steam sales.
Buy Bundles Any Time You Want
Publisher bundles are almost always ridiculously deep discounts. If you're looking at an Activision bundle or a Eidos bundle and wondering if those prices will get any better, stop wondering and just buy it. The side effect is that you wind up with a bunch of games you may not want to play, but it can be a fantastic discount for a lot of games if everything in the bundle interests you. This year's best bundle is undoubtedly the Valve Complete Pack for $US17.52 (91% off!)
Before you buy any game on sale, make sure to check a publisher bundle to see if the game is discounted in the bundle as well. You never know, it may be a steeper discount in the bundle than it is on its own. It's not very likely, but you should always check first. While you're at it, check DLC (Downloadable Content) prices. Sometimes a title you want has a lot of DLC that's also on sale too for as little as $1, and it's worth buying them all together.
How to Know When You're Getting the Biggest Discount
When a newish game is on sale for 60 per cent off, you probably won't get it any cheaper than that for a while. As the Scientific Gamer notes, new games that have been recently released will usually only get a 25-40 per cent cut. Grab it if you really really want it, but deeper discounts will come in the next few months. 50-66 per cent off are modest discounts, worth jumping on if you want the title or have been meaning to pick it up, and if the title is an Indie or a cheap game anyway, go for it. You run the risk of seeing a steeper discount after the sale is over, but probably not. Anything discounted 75 per cent or more is almost always worth snapping up. Go for it.
Use Technology to Help You
If you don't want to be bothered with emails from Steam, check out the Steam mobile apps for Android and iOS. You can keep track on the sales anywhere you go, and have prices delivered straight to your smartphone.
Similarly, check out Enhanced Steam for Chrome and Firefox. The extension gives you full price histories for the games you browse, helps you avoid buying DLC you already own, notifies you when a game you're looking at has third-party DRM, and shows you how much you're really saving on a bundle purchase. If you haven't tried it, it's worth installing.
Finally, if you use Steam Wallet to make your purchases, load it up ahead of time. You don't want to get stuck in the last moments of a sale trying to add funds and then process a sale only to be denied because the transactions are taking too long. For more suggestions, check out this post over at GHacks.
With these tips, you won't buy a game only to find it's due for a steeper discount later in the week, and you won't miss a sale hoping it'll come back at some point later on only to find out it never does. Keep an eye out for your favourite titles, make your wishlist in advance, set a budget for yourself (seriously, otherwise you will empty your wallet), and have fun. Then spend some time actually playing through your backlog so you can get to the games you just bought.