Ah, Steam, a savior of PC Gaming. Steam is an online digital distribution service. It started as a simple game launcher, and over 8 years has become the best place to buy and store digital games online. Personally, I have 96 games through the service, and while that is a ton of games, most of them have been $5 or less. There’s two reasons why my steam account has so many games. Steam sales and Humble Indie Bundles. Humble Indie Bundles are a brilliant service. It is a pay as much as you want for a group of games, all of which can then be activated on Steam. Most of the games involved in the bundles I’ve never heard of before. I’ve bought every bundle so far for two reasons. First, you get a ton of games for very little money. I usually pay $1/game. Second, part of the proceeds go to charity. You can read up all the details on their site, and if you’re a gamer, I suggest signing up for their email distribution list so you know when the next bundle comes up.
The other large section of my game collection comes from Steam Sales. Twice a year, the steam service puts a whole ton of their games on sale. The savings can be immense. Deals range from 40% to 80% off. I’ve written about this before. If you’re new to Steam Sales, I recommend reading through that post to figure out the general layout of the steam sales (Daily Deals, Publisher Packs) as well as some of the strategy involved so that you can get the best deals on the games.
One of the new things this year are Steam’s Flash Deals. These are deals that are even shorter than the Daily Deals. These sales will only last 8-12 hours. Basically this means that if you want to be sure that you’re getting the best deal possible, you’re checking their website at least twice a day. This is brilliant for Steam. This basically means that they’re getting their customers to check the website multiple times each day, constantly reinforcing their branding, their dominance in the market, etc. And from the consumer perspective, they’re fun. I enjoy checking the website on a regular basis, looking for games that might be a good deal. It also ends up being that I find new games that I haven’t heard of before.
The second way Steam is getting us to live on their website for the 10 days the sale is up is through these Community Choice events. Steam, every 8 hours, will offer 3 games to potentially go on sale. Through community voting, the consumers choose which game will go on sale for the next 8 hours. Sometimes you get to buy the game that you chose, and sometimes you don’t. Regardless, I find myself checking at least three times a day just so I can vote and see what made it on sale!
Thankfully, for both of these new ways of dealing with the sales, the same strategies can be applied as during previous sales. Unless it is a game that you know you want, and unless it’s on a Daily Deal for 66% or more, don’t buy it until the last day of the sale. The last day of the sale, so far anyways, has always been the best deals, the most popular sales, all put together on one day. So you don’t have to worry too much about missing a flash deal or a community choice sale because if it’s good enough, it’ll show up on the last day anyways.
There’s a few games that have gone on sale that I would recommend picking up during this sale.
Bastion – Probably my favorite game that I’ve played over the last year. It was on sale for 75% off previously during a community choice event, so it will probably go back down to that price at some point during this sale. Keep an eye on it, and buy it when you can. I put about 25 hours into that game, and there’s more that I could do. The story, the narration, and the music are the three biggest reasons to buy it, and the gameplay being super fun is a close fourth.
Torchlight – Similiar to Bastion, in that I got a lot of gameplay for the dollar, I put about 30 hours into Torchlight. It was also on sale for 75% off previously and will most likely happen again. If you’re a fan of the Diablo genre (action RPG, the insane loot mechanic), this is definitely worth playing. Not much of a story, and if you’re played Diablo 3 some of the mechanics will be frustrating in comparison, but definitely a fun distraction before Torchlight 2 releases this summer.
Borderlands – A “shooter-looter”, in that it has the same loot mechanics as a Diablo game (random weapons/armor, random stats) but is set in a cell-shaded FPS. Tons of fun, best played with friends. Also gone on sale for 75% off previously, and will again. Tons of fun, has 4 different characters and will the ability to choose your skills you can completely change the game to suit your ideal play style. There’s the base game and a Game of the Year edition which comes with additional DLC that introduces more story, more enemies and moire gameplay.
Each other these games, when on sale, are about $5, and you’ll get dozens of hours of gameplay out of them. In terms of PC games, they’re great investments.
Which games have you purchased this summer sale?