Running out of Steam

Steam’s Summer Camp event has been going for almost a week, and despite being a sucker for a bargain (or possibly just a sucker), especially when it comes to Steam, I haven’t bought anything yet. Being fully hooked on LotRO and World of Tanks at the moment I don’t have the vulnerability to a shiny new game that MMOG burnout often causes, which could well be a major factor in that, but nothing has really jumped out as being an exceptional bargain so far.

Course previous Steam sales have slightly recalibrated what an “exceptional bargain” is to the point that I barely look at anything over £10 unless it’s the entire back catalogue of a publisher, and even a fiver seems a bit steep for a single game. The Witcher 2 sounds a fine game, but even with 33% off was a bit much; I’m interested in Fable 3, but lukewarm reviews made me think twice about it, even at £15. I’m really keen to pick up Total War: Shogun 2 at some point, but the Total War series need a decent amount of time to play, and I still haven’t finished my Peninsular campaign in Napoleon: Total War. Previous Steam sales have also packed my library with games I might’ve been tempted by like Tropico 3 and Just Cause 2, which reminds me I must get back to them at some point as well…

An interesting facet of the event is the ability to win tickets through various achievements, the tickets then entering you into a prize draw for games from your wishlist, but also acting as a currency that you can exchange for a variety of DLC-type prizes (Edit: PC Gamer conveniently just posted a list). The majority of achievements are within specific games, none of which I’ve had so far, but one a day is usually something connected to Steam itself (joining a group, leaving a comment, uploading a screenshot etc.) which I’ve been ticking off, so I’m now trying to decide if I want to cash the tickets in for snorkels on the robots in Portal 2 or an entire Alien Breed game…

It may all be an insidious plot to infiltrate Steam into everything you do, collate massive amounts of customer data and/or maintain a stranglehold on PC gaming, but in general I like the platform and what they’re doing with it even if they’re not offering a super-pack of every game of the last 10 years for 76p. Microsoft, meanwhile, are shuffling Games for Windows Live to because… erm… they want to save the ten bucks on domain renewal?

3 thoughts on “Running out of Steam

  1. Klepsacovic

    I think the best example for me was kotor. It’s a great game and was only $10 regularly. But I just had to wait for 75% off. I think Steam must be aimed at people like me: people who rarely buy games (but aren’t pirates), so if you can get $2.50 out of us, that’s more than you’d get otherwise.

    Firefox remembered the form for my captcha. It’s learning.

  2. mbp

    I have bough t one game so far but I am also less excited about the sale than I remember previously.

    Perhaps I am just jaded from so many cheap games but I also think that the bargains aren’t quite what they used to be.

    My guess is it that we may be witnessing the end of the era of pricing madness. there is still good value to be had but just not the give-aways we got in previous sales.

  3. Zoso Post author

    @Klepsacovic The lower price points certainly tap into much wider markets (including people who already own the game, but for whom paying $2.50 and clicking is easier than trying to find the disc)

    @mbp I have a feeling you’re right, but it’s hard to tell whether there’s bit of a warm glow of nostalgia going on as well over previous sales; wonder if anyone’s got a big spreadsheet comparing how many offers and relative percentage discounts… Eminently possible that they were offering crazy sales for a while to secure a dominant position and are now sustaining it with not-exactly-crazy-but-pretty-decent offers.

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