Is The Steam Summer Sale A Good Thing?

Senior Contributor
06.19.14 11 Comments


The very idea sounds ridiculous, I know. The Steam Summer Sale, which just officially started, is a wallet-destroying, gamer-maddening tradition as we run around the site buying pretty much everything because it’s just… so… cheap! But there are some arguing that the Steam Summer Sale, and sales like it, aren’t good for gaming or gamers, and it’s worth hearing them out.


Probably the single most damning statistic one can make is that despite gamers shelling out for discount games, that doesn’t mean they’ll play them. In fact, 37% of games sold on Steam haven’t been opened once.

And developers aren’t necessarily fans, either. While you have to take EA’s opinion or the feeling of the GOG team that Steam sales devalue games with just a wee bit of salt, developers have argued that it sets an expectation for casual fans and isn’t fair to the people who buy the game day one. And it raises a good question: What is this teaching gamers to think?

Controlled Burn

On the flipside, some developers have profited in surprising ways from Steam sales. Developers point out that their games see staggeringly high sales, although it must be noted these are games like Bastion and Super Meat Boy, hits in their own right. Still, they point out that volume tends to make up the difference, and more to the point, there are a lot of people who simply aren’t going to buy the game unless they can get a deal.

And the truth is, especially in PC gaming, numbers are important. Yes, a third of your audience never opens the game, but if you get 1000 people to buy it, and 660 of them play it and tell their friends about it, that’s 660 people talking about your games. For smaller developers fighting games with donut budgets bigger than their payrolls, that’s valuable.

So spend, within reason. But more importantly, play what you buy, buy games you wouldn’t normally play, and tell your friends what you think. That way, the Steam Summer Sale is worth it for everyone.

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