Bargain basement: Has the Steam Sale finally jumped the shark?

Wednesday, 25 June 2014 14:52 GMT By Patrick Garratt

Impenetrable gamification and a creaking catalogue are making for increasingly bleak Steam Sales. Is this the twilight of the great online clear-outs?


This summer’s Steam Sale is the worst I can remember. The whole thing’s been “gamified” and all the games are old. I haven’t bought anything. I’m not a giant PC gamer, but I normally pick something up because it’s the Steam Sale and we’re under legal obligation. Steam Sales usually spell borderline-free big budget games, but this time there’s nothing I need. The Witcher 2 was decent at $3.99 on the first day and Far Cry 3 is always good, but come on: you haven’t played them?

Mirror’s Edge and Hotline Miami. Borderlands 2 and Saints Row IV. Torchlight II and Fallout: New Vegas. Myst and Syberia, for God’s sake. Call of Duty: Ghosts for €30 is everything you need to know. It isn’t Steam’s fault, really. The big releases have slowed over the transition and the PC-only stuff is growing evermore niche. Steph grabbed Banished, which looks neat, but I’ve got to be honest: I’ve never heard of it.

I’d like to say this year’s sale is more about oddities, but it feels more dusty pantry than Aladdin’s cave. The most eye-catching thing I saw on there today was Murdered: Soul Suspect, but it isn’t that great so the price isn’t gigantically enticing. Space Hulk costs virtually nothing, I suppose. ArmA III for €22, is okay.

Regardless of the ailing content, Steam’s sale “initiatives” are just getting bizarre. What are Steam trading cards? No one knows. I certainly don’t, and I’ll never read the text to find out. What’s this? I just want to buy some games. Or not, as the case may be.

It’s always fashionable to say you’re bored of Steam Sales, of course, but this time it isn’t tediousness as much as lack of relevance. There’s a limit to how many times you can flop the same games back onto the butcher’s block. I’ve played Torchlight II a lot, you know, and the catch-ups are less essential with every sale. I’m just not as eager to shell out for small savings on mid-tier games. I’m leaping at nothing. It doesn’t feel as though there’s anything to leap at.

Here today, GoG tomorrow


But let’s be happy. The Steam Summer Sale’s popularity has led to inevitable reproductions and increased choice. The GoG alternative raised my eyebrow slightly more than the milimetere Steam managed. Overlord and Sacred are yours for a few dollars, and there’s certainly more in the way of intriguing rarities (rare, at least, to me). At least this stuff is properly old. Not just cracking a middle-aged limp and facing latter years with a pressed smile.

And it isn’t just the PC chaps getting in on the “action,” either. Sony’s got a sale running today. Escape Plan PS4 could be yours for $11. Let the good times roll.

Maybe all this will be more exciting next year once we’ve had a Christmas-worth of next-gen releases. Maybe a Witcher 3 discount will get things moving. Maybe everyone’s bought FTL now. Maybe everyone’s realised that discounting your games to pennies isn’t the best option if you need to be able to sell stuff at full price once in a while.

Maybe this is just an end-game of selling ancient content to hopeless addicts.

Of course, thanks to writing this piece I bought Metro Last Light from Steam. Plus ça change, and all that.


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  1. OwnedWhenStoned

    Hmm. I got Arma 3 for 17 quid, Papers, Please for 5 quid and a few others for buttons.

    I think it’s quite good, certainly no worse than last summer, although I’m old and my memory may be failing.

    I’ve got to agree about the trading cards / summer adventure nonsense though. No idea what’s going on there.

    #1 9 months ago
  2. ddtd

    I picked up Arkham Origins for $5 or $6. The sales haven’t been spectacular, but not as dreadful.

    #2 9 months ago
  3. polygem

    I bought Rogue Legacy, Metal Slug 3 and Awesomenauts…and i really think i´m done. Can´t really think of anything else i would want and/or haven´t played yet.
    Man, we need some fresh ideas in gaming. There are tons and tons of great deals but i just don´t feel like playing most of the games that are on offer :D

    #3 9 months ago
  4. powerbuoy

    Agree that it hasn’t been great, but almost every game on my wishlist is somewhar discounted so I’ll buy most on the 30th if not before.

    #4 9 months ago
  5. TMRNetShark

    Are you complaining just to complain? Or was there an actual insightful article that you posted hidden inside of this moping “eh…” of writing.

    Congratulations! You’ve discovered that some people, who are gamers, can’t dish out $60 for a big title game and wait for these sales. Just because you’ve played all the games that are on sale doesn’t mean everyone else is. Plus, this isn’t just about the big games either… I have bought purely indie games from the sales so far (some of the games, much cheaper and better than the big guns like Far Cry or Borderlands).

    Then again, maybe cynicism shouldn’t be writing your pieces. “Maybe all this will be more exciting next year once we’ve had a Christmas-worth of next-gen releases” just tells you right there that you are looking at this wrong. This Christmas will bring another round of “bleh” big budget titles instead of new and interesting games. I don’t even buy half of the serialized games and I am sick of hearing about them… Yet you think it will be better next year with titles that are basically rehashed same ideas?

    #5 9 months ago
  6. Digital Bamboo

    This is the first summer I’ve had a gaming PC, so there is quite a lot that has come up that has interested me. Unfortunately by the time I found out what a big deal the Steam summer sale is, I didn’t have much money left in my wallet. Had I the means, I could easily spend another $100.

    #6 9 months ago
  7. salarta

    They’ve been alright, nothing too crazy. I decided to pick up Dynasty Warriors 8, because it’s been a long time since I got to play one of those games, and the price was low enough for me to feel digital was okay this time around. As opposed to before, when Koei would force digital only with the price tag closer to a full game on physical format.

    #7 9 months ago
  8. AmiralPatate

    I got 8 games/DLC for less than 30€ so far. There are still 5 days left, I’m hoping to see maybe Wolfenstein on Tropico on a big sale. Haven’t bought any big title, but I wouldn’t call it a bust. Because it ain’t.

    #8 9 months ago
  9. CyberMarco

    The sales aren’t that bad as you say they are. It’s simple you already have the games you want.

    But from a new comer’s perspective it’s a god-send. Not everyone gets his games day-1 (me included), so saying that Torchlight 2, Far Cry 3 and Mirror’s Edge are old and don’t consist of a concrete sale is ludicrous.

    With 50$ you can get a bunch of AAA and indie games that will fix your gaming needs for the rest of the year, if not more.

    P.S. To everyone who hasn’t or wont bother with the Steam game-cards I would likely take that burden of yours! :D

    #9 9 months ago
  10. CyberMarco

    gladly* not likely

    #10 9 months ago
  11. Arcnail

    Bored of Steam sales? Not as boring as this article.

    And really, if you don’t like the sales, don’t buy them. There’s nothing else you could have thought about to write on?

    #11 9 months ago
  12. JB

    I got Skyrim for less than £4

    Mass Effect collection for £7

    Command and Conquer 3 + expansion for around £3 each

    Not much else I`m interested in right now…

    #12 9 months ago
  13. harr0w

    Yep this year and last years summer sales were pretty piir on steam. Haven’t bought a thing this year.

    #13 9 months ago
  14. archaven

    Steam sales is not boring. In case no one knows, this site is platform racist. Everything on Consoles is yay and everything on PC is shit. I can’t believe we have journalism that is platform racist.

    #14 9 months ago
  15. Demigod

    yet another click bait article from another seemingly disgruntled vg247 staffer. Well I did click.
    What is wrong with you guys? You have been complaining and moaning in articles for a while.
    Nothing to get on a steam sale? Not all the sales stuff is on the front page there is loads to look at lots of ways to filter and lots of great games AAA and indie.

    I may have only picked up three but I still got three great games. What is there to complain about? Gamification of the sale sure its there you dont have to do it. This is like complaining about secondary quests in games ( a theme on this site) you don’t have to go near it if you don’t like that sort of thing.

    Seriously this site is starting to sound like a group of miserable old people. “In my day sales were better”

    #15 9 months ago
  16. Gheritt White

    GOD Pat, you’re just so… so… FASHIONABLE. Gah!

    FWIW, I’ve still not played The Witcher 2.

    FWIW #2 – just picked it up for about £5 for X360 at CEx over the weekend.


    #16 9 months ago
  17. OlderGamer

    The sale is alright. And still has a few days left.

    I don’t like the Steam Cards and Adventure stuff tho. Too much nonsense for me.

    As far as the big name games, I don’t buy many of them at release any more. Too much ‘meh for me.

    Only a few games get my cash for full price each year, so the sales are a good way to get a few games that look interesting enough to try, but not interesting enough to invest 60usd +DLC. We are conditioned to think we need new games all of the time(it is how the industry makes their money), but really if you have a handful of games, like(and this is just for me) Civ V, Hawken, BF4, Diablo 3, Tourchlight 2, Titan Quest, what more do I need? I can sink hundreds of hours(and have) into those games. I don’t need new games every time I turn around. Add in the occasional indie game here and there, the Games for Gold and PSN+ games, and I personaly have lots of tinker worthy games. So again, I don’t often buy new releases at launch…so the Steam sale is a welcome way to get older games, big names or small.

    #17 9 months ago
  18. Revolting

    Different strokes for different folks, I guess. Personally my wallet cowers in fear of the steam sale every half-year, and this year’s summer sale is no different; I’ve picked up far more games than I will ever have time to play. It’s an impulse buyer’s nightmare, and I love it as much as I hate it. It’s good times. I’ve certainly found no shortage of spending opportunities.

    That said, I do dislike them turning the actual buying process itself into a game, with achievements and rewards and the like encouraging you to needlessly spend more money than you otherwise would. That’s dirty tactics, that is.

    #18 9 months ago
  19. OrbitMonkey

    You heard the maxim

    “Facebook isn’t boring, your friends are”?

    Similar one applies to gaming.

    “The games ain’t boring, your bored of games”

    Take a break, read a book & stop whining about your self inflicted ennui.

    #19 9 months ago
  20. Panthro

    @Gheritt White

    It was £2.99/$3.99 a few days ago on Steam.

    + Gamepad controls aren’t very good for the game (I’ve tried, I have a 360 pad) as well as the PC version looks far better and has mod support.

    …And your copy was pre-owned, not really a bargain in my eyes.

    #20 9 months ago
  21. bardo

    “It doesn’t feel like there’s anything to leap at.” — Rogue Legacy for $3.75?
    How can you not leap at that?

    #21 9 months ago
  22. Panthro

    Yeah the sale hasn’t been as good this year…

    But that’s only personally me because I have just over 500 games, most of which were already discounted when bought.

    Not much left to buy, I don’t really wait for games to hit a sale if I want them, so I only pick up stragglers that I missed during a sale.

    All in all, the sales have been as good as any other year, it’s just I already have a lot of the games I want. Except for the 10 just bought. Also has 5 days left, a lot can happen in 5 days.

    #22 9 months ago
  23. bardo

    @bardo Brothers – A Tale of Two Sons for $3?
    There have definitely been a few titles to leap at.
    Maybe not AAA titles, but who cares. There’s plenty of indie genius to pick up the slack.

    #23 9 months ago
  24. nollie4545

    Steam sales are great, buy AAA titles that aren’t all that old for near nothing money and some of the indie and smaller developer offers are good too.

    Games being offered cheap. How can you object to that?

    I’m ballsed if I would pay full retail price for new games all the time when they are just released. At least on steam I can grab what I want when its on offer.

    #24 9 months ago
  25. Panthro


    The Steam sales aren’t as good as the PSN and Xbox store sales, they might have the same games but the quality of service from PSn and Xbox just makes it worth that extra few dollars.

    Steam feels like buying from a crappy outside stall in some shitty market while buying from Xbox and PSN feel like buying from an actual shop that is warm and nice, making it worth the extra money alone.

    #25 9 months ago
  26. Gheritt White

    @Panthro What are you, a Steam employee or something? You must be *great* fun at parties.

    #26 9 months ago
  27. Panthro

    @Gheritt White

    A raiding party isn’t meant to be fun, I take it seriously since I don’t want me or my team mates to die in battle.

    But nah, just nah.
    Must be hard for you to be sarcastic these days without copy/pasting what 1 million other people have already said to each other online. -1 point for you, for your failed attempt at being a cunt ;)

    + Why go out of your way to reply if you’re just going to try and be offensive anyway?
    Nothing I have said to you is hostile in anyway.

    #27 9 months ago
  28. Reddpayn

    @Panthro 25#
    Mmmmm… psn actually is warm and cosy :) Just bought coh2 and me 1 from steam btw

    #28 9 months ago
  29. salarta

    @Gheritt White Maybe Steam? :P

    I tried both Witcher and Witcher 2, but I never cared for them. I really don’t see the appeal.

    #29 9 months ago
  30. TheWulf

    I don’t think they have. I think that they’ve just turned sales into an event — I don’t know that that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but that it’s just a thing.

    Also, as an avowed PC gamer, I understand the sales of old games. The PC has an extensive back catalogue that one would have to be foolish not to take advantage of. If there’s an old game that you might like, that you only have in CD form (which barely works any more due to the passage of time), you may want to pick it up in a Steam sale. I’ve certainly done that, I did that for Beyond Good & Evil, because my BG&E disc has CRC errors by this point.

    I understand why, Pat, as a console gamer you wouldn’t understand the appeal. With each new console generation, you throw away the past, never to be seen again. The PC has never existed in such a way, it embraces the past, it hangs on to it and keeps it maintained for future generations to enjoy. For example, if a HD reboot of Ratchet & Clank hadn’t happened, the only way to play that would be on an emulator on the PC. The PS3 support for those games just doesn’t work, they suffer slowdown to the point of being unplayable.

    HD remakes will only happen so often, though, and eventually the games will fall into obscurity. Console games will die, forgotten, whereas PC games will live on through time eternal. They’ll be preserved by fans and services like, and they’ll always be there. And other systems will eventually be emulated, too.

    I think that, due to the nature of the platform, PC users respect the past more than other gamers. So whereas you almost seemed angry, Pat at Myst and Syberia being present? People like me are happy to see them pop up. And like I said, if your discs just stopped working, a sale like this would allow you to replace them for a nominal fee. Valve understands this, they’re savvy, but I can understand why someone who plays games mostly on the consoles wouldn’t. I completely understand.

    You probably think that is kind of a pointless service, too, I suspect?

    I’ve always found it interesting that console gamers are so ready to chuck away the past. I remember Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation mentioning this recently in his video. “If you hadn’t thrown your PS3 down the stairs the moment the PS4 came out, that is.” And it’s true, two of the console gamers I know sold their old consoles and game collections before buying a PS4. This baffles me.

    So, yeah, Myst and Syberia have a place on Steam.

    #30 9 months ago
  31. TheWulf


    Yeah, that’s how I feel. No idea why it’s there, but it’s there, and it doesn’t affect the sales in any way. If I want to buy a game for cheap, I can still do that, and the fluff doesn’t stop me. I think the fluff is just for people who like fluff, and that’s fine.


    I think that’s another thing that console gamers don’t understand. They regularly shell out $60-80 (!!!) for a game. And that almost gives me a heart attack to think about. Whereas I tend to either wait for sales, or I visit or places like it to get a new game on the cheap.

    I’m always confused when the ‘PC Master Race’ trope is trotted around, because it’s more the ‘Console Master Race’ from what I’ve seen. The console owners tend to be middle to upper classes, and they can spend hundreds of dollars per month (!!!) on games, their devices are luxury items, whereas my PC is a utility that just so happens to be able to play games, as well.

    So, where I only regularly pay $10-30 for games, because that’s what I can afford, the console owners are just splashing the dosh around and making retail outlets very, very, very, very, very, very rich. They pay $80 for something I’ve paid $18 for, that happens regularly. They do it because it’s a luxury — they know that, and I know that.

    It’s more the ‘Poor PC-owning Waifs’ and the ‘Console Master Race’ if you ask me, going by that. They can afford to waste hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of dollars, I have to be more savvy than that. I can’t do that.

    But they’re just splashing their ‘bling’ around.


    Considering I’ve seen it for even cheaper than that for Steam? (On Nuuvem, I think, for around the two pound mark in a sale.) I’d say… Steam? :P

    Better usability, cleaner interface, cheaper prices. I mean, sure, it’s not as fancy or showy, but I’m not actually trying to be a showy Master Race person, I’m fine with the more utilitarian nature of Steam! Quite happy with that, in fact!

    #31 9 months ago
  32. antraxsuicide

    It seems like this article went over most people’s heads.

    Pat’s key point is that at this point in Steam’s lifetime, every single game that’s on sale has been on sale before. Not just once, but so many times that the sale price may as well be the real price. And now that it’s gotten to this point, it’s hard to say “I can’t wait for the Steam Sale!” when you know that the prices are the same as they were a month ago. And 3 months ago. And so on….

    It’s a happy problem for Valve, as it means Steam is now too successful, but they do need to find a way to excite their fanbase again. Consoles have successors, and that usually does the trick for 5-10 years. The PC doesn’t have this, so you’ve got to be creative. Steam did that years ago, and now it’s time for something else to come along and bring that spark back.

    And no, I don’t think Steam Machines will do that. Those look like ass. (Pardon my French.)

    #32 9 months ago
  33. Llewelyn_MT

    I got the same vibe. It’s the worst big sale since I got on Steam in 2011. The discounts are smaller then usual. Fallout: New Vegas was 75% off when I got it over a year ago and this time it was only 66% off. Even CS:GO didn’t get lower than 50% off. There is a distinct lack of newer AAA titles. If they are in offer, the discount is never higher than 40-50%.

    Most of the games I got this sale season are from They have better prices and are infinitely more consumer friendly.

    I got a few missing Borderlands 2 DLC and Don’t Starve for my girlfriend (for the upcoming co-op). Then again, I have a lot of games in my library already.

    #33 9 months ago
  34. Vargavinter

    I didn’t plan to buy anything, but when I joined the Steamtrades forum I noticed that you could buy a 50% game for only half the sale price using Tf2 keys.

    #34 9 months ago
  35. Gekidami

    Not about the actual quality of the sale itself, but i’ve came across a video that points out some other retarded stuff about this years Steam summer sale:

    #35 9 months ago
  36. voxelman

    The major Steam sales have all been “gamerfied” and as for no new games that is a flat out lie. Even ignoring the Early Access titles day one had Dead Rising 3 that isn’t even out yet. There was also The Walking Dead Season 2 and The wolf Among Us which are ongoing episodic games, Dynasty Warriors 8 Complete, the Lego Movie game and Child of Light, Murdered: Souls Suspect, Age of Wonders 3 and The Banner Saga for 2014 releases so far this sale, plus MGR: Revengance technically was released in 2014 on PC. Also Wasteland 2 and Divinity: Original Sin which are early access games close to full release. And also a bunch of games from the last holiday season like Call of Duty: Ghosts and Splinter Cell: Blacklist. And that is only the daily sales as well there have been more in the flash and community vote sales as well.

    The sale is just over half over and there have been plenty of great games both old and new, indie and AAA, niche and mass market that have been put on sale. You have to be willfully ignorant to argue otherwise.

    #36 9 months ago
  37. voxelman

    Oh and the meta game stuff can easily be ignored. And even if you don’t actively participate you can just list the cards you get on the marketplace and get some Steam wallet funds to buy games.

    #37 9 months ago
  38. Legendaryboss

    @Demigod “Seriously this site is starting to sound like a group of miserable old people. “In my day sales were better” Very good. :lol:

    #38 9 months ago

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