Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Steam “Perils of Summer” Super Bargain Bin Sale

Steam had another awesome sale this last week. In the original design of Steam it was to be a multiplayer service. Thankfully, Valve has transformed it into much more. As much as I have enjoyed playing Team Fortress 2 multiplayer on Steam, my favorite feature of Steam is the Store. The most remarkable thing about the store is that Sales can happen at random. They have NO aggressive advertising. Instead they put the sales on their webpage and on the Steam Launcher. When gamers login they see the sales and start telling each other. News of the sale traveled at near the speed of light. If you are invested in racing, whether NASCAR or Formula1, find a consumer and put them in the driver seat and tell them there is a sale ahead. You will have a winner every time.

Now everything I want to talk about is for the gamer on a budget. This isn’t for people who intend buying up every bargain or pack. Even though some of the packs are great deals, I don't want to spend $70-$80 for a pack. I wanted to share some of my thinking on the sale. A few things you need to consider when looking at a Steam sale. For what purpose should you use the Steam sale? How should someone handle a Steam Sale? And most importantly, what did I get for the Summer Sale?

The number one thing you need to use the Steam Sale for is to get a bargain on a great game. That sounds obvious, but many people are buying Full Price games at 33-50% off, instead of setting a ceiling cap on what they are willing to pay, this goes into how you handle the Steam Sale. For example some games have been marked down from their $49.99 - $59.99 initial price to $39.99-$49.99. During the sale they are reduced 50% to $19.99-$24.99. This is not really a bargain. You want something that’s been doubly reduced. Set a cap on an individual game. For me this was $9.99. Now, some games were on sale for $10.16. While I can accept that price point, I wasn’t interested in any of those games.

You also probably need to define a great game. Find a game that you have finished and really enjoyed. Find reviews for the game which match your own, including play styles. Find other games the reviewer may have enjoyed and just write out a list of what they considered a great game. Seeing as how it's 2010, it was easy for me to find reviewers and bloggers with lists for "Best games of the decade". Set up a list of games you are looking for. Steam has Metacritic scores, if they have them, posted on each games section in the store. This is to help you find a game that has good reviews.

The second thing you need to do for any “sale” is to set a budget. For the Steam sale I set myself a budget of $20-$25. Why did I have a range? Some games have an odd price which you will see later.

Here is the list I made with the prices I was looking for with some reasons why.

“Dead Space” for $9.99
Supposedly it was listed for this price two weeks ago and I missed it, grr. The main reason I am interested in this game is that former members of Looking Glass studios worked on this.

“Crysis” for $9.99
They put Crysis on sale, but it was 14.99. That was over the individual cap that I had.

“Freedom Force Freedom Pack”
I have seen many people call this series some of the best games ever made. This was made by Irrational game who made System Shock and Bioshock. They have a good reputation.

“Torchlight” for $5
I tried the demo and didn’t think it was worth the original price they asked for. They had “Torchlight” for this price during the Christmas sale and I wish I had picked it up then.

“King’s Bounty”
Bill Harris over at Dubious Quality considers this one of the best games he has ever played.

So what did I wind up getting:

“Freedom Force” and “Freedom Force vs the Third Reich”: $5.61
These games went on sale two days after I picked it up and I lost out about $3. $5.61 is still a great price for these games.

“Torchlight”: $5
I have already spent 14 hours playing this game. I still haven’t finished the campaign. I already got my money’s worth out of this one.

This was an opportunity purchase. I tried the demo and the only word I can use to describe this game is charming. This is game is full of quality. I can see why so many players love it. I plan to play it right after I finish “Torchlight”.

“Red Faction: Guerrilla”: $5
This was another opportunity purchase. I’ve seen some people, in particular Bill Harris mentioned above, call this one of the best games of 2009, or whatever year it came out. I really like it so far. Try to imagine if Borderlands met Grand Theft Auto. Borderlands drops you in a mission hub and the world around you is just dead. There is life, but it is mostly things you shoot. There aren’t many other people around. When you do interact with people you get a Mission Log thrust in your face with an “Accept” or “Cancel” option. On the other hand, “Red Faction: Guerrilla” gives you a purpose and engages the player actively. This is key for any game, but “Red Faction: Guerilla” does a better job of it than many other games I have played. The world around just seems alive with all the people walking and driving around, going about the business of mining and manufacturing. The production value is just better.

“King’s Bounty the Legend”: $3.24
The “King’s Bounty Gold Edition” had both the first and 2nd game in the series for $9.99. If I had purchased the pack, I would have spent $29.60, which would put me over budget. So I bought the first game and if I like it, I’ll get the 2nd game during another sale. If I don’t like it, I’ll save myself a few dollars.

So what was my total spent for the sale? $22.85

That’s about $3.81 cents, rounded up, per game. I think I made a lot of good choices while staying in my budget. I hope I spend a lot of time with each of these and can get some of them finished before the next sale.

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