The Approaching Steam Summer Sale of 2015

Seen as a bankrupting black hole for the hardcore purchaser, the sale actually presents an opportunity for the sensible and discerning. Let’s be the latter this time round.

It’s impossible!”
“No. It’s necessary.”
– scene from Interstellar

A few days ago, users of the popular gaming platform Steam would have probably noticed the sudden appearance of a “mysterious” 10-set trading card slot in their badges section.

Such mystery. (These are likely to be special collectibles for the sale event, but more on that later)

Far from being mysterious, this recent addition is a clear indication: the hotly-anticipated arrival of Valve Corporation’s yearly event is closing in. Fast.

For the uninitiated, Steam is a one-stop platform through which one can purchase and maintain a library of games: games which you can download and install anytime, anywhere – as long as you have the steam client/app on the computer.

On board this platform lies the annual Steam Summer Sale – the equivalent of Black Friday for shoppers – except that the flurry of game sales spans nearly two weeks.

“TWO WEEKS? T-W-O, TWO? Dasitmane, dasit.” – Jealous Black Friday Shopaholics

Over the 11 days (or more), Steam virtually slashes all prices on the games available on its platform – easily over 90% of the games on the market today – to varying degrees. From the meager 10% discount to the substantial 75% cut, it presents a big opportunity for all looking to purchase a good game, be they newcomers or hardcore gamers.

On top of the fundamental price slashes, there exist flash sales and daily deals to augment affordability, with price cuts going up to the elusive 80%-90% level at times. This is how gamers usually lose wads of cash to the sale, by blindly purchasing anything with an insane price cut.

Below is a most realistic account of what the sale is like to gamers looking to expand their current game libraries. Hilarious, but it hits the spot:

So, how does one survive the yearly Battle of Walletsdeep?

1) Prepare a budget. The optimum arrangement would be to save a portion of your money over a few months prior to the sale. Having a dedicated sum of money put aside would render any purchase guilt-free when a major sale like this one hits.

Personally, I cap my sale expenditure at around 50-60 dollars when the coffers are a little tight. It helps maintain spending discipline and ensures that purchases are made only when the price is down to an acceptable range.

2) Draw up your wishlist. A good way to keep track of your desired purchases, the Steam store will keep you updated on the prices of items when you put them on your wishlist. Also, tallying the contents of your wishlist helps inform budget-formulation and decisions on what to prioritize or hold off till the next sale.

3) Check Reviews. Although it’s common sense, the following advice is extremely crucial and deserves reiteration: Don’t ever buy a game blindly! Don’t. Check the reviews on games which pique your interest before deciding to buy them. If reviews aren’t out yet, look out for general sentiments regarding the game on online forums or dedicated sites.

Bottom line: Don’t buy a game because it’s on offer, buy it because it’s worth playing.

4) Manage your expectations. If the desired game is a recently-released one, do not expect prices to soar above 50% (usually, they tend to be 15% or lower). However, if it’s been out for a  year or more, you can expect it to drop between 40-75% depending on the time since publication. You can factor this into your decisions prior to making a purchase.

5) Wait for daily deals. If the fundamental discount is not up to expectation, you should wait and keep a close eye on the daily deals/flash offers, which could feature your desired game at a greater discount. Fear not if you miss out on the best deals, for an encore “best deals” sale will always occur on the last day of the event.

6) Dabble a little in the trading card business. Remember the earlier-mentioned 10 “mysterious” trading cards? They are probably earned when you vote for a game to be on discount, as has been the case for the last few summer sales. Trading cards can be sold on the Steam user markets for S$0.10++ a piece, which can be used to offset some purchasing costs or buy other trading cards.

If you’re looking to boost the aesthetic of your steam profile, a full 10-card set can be crafted into a badge to commemorate this year’s sale event, which simultaneously raises your user level – granting 5 more friend slots and possibly unlocking profile customization features.

Now, the most important question of all: When is the Summer Sale? Initially thought to occur in July this year, current rumors point to the summer sale beginning before end June, with many believing it to start on June 11th – which is in fact, tomorrow.

All’s quiet on the Western Front today.

Nevertheless, the core approach to thriving in any Steam sale remains: draw up your wishlist, do your budgeting, manage your expectations and perform the necessary research, for you never know when a sale is going to hit on Steam. Ever.

And when a sale does arrive, the only order of business left is to quite simply, enjoy your new game guilt-free. After all, that is the best feeling after any purchase, isn’t it?