Steam Summer Sale 2013 review

Another sale has been and will be gone very soon for Steam, so let’s have a very quick rundown of the past 11 days.

Deal of the Sale
Tomb Raider – £29.99 down to £7.49
Released on in March, this was Squeenix’s marquee title of 2013 and it’s already under £10. If you like Uncharted, this is pretty much the same thing just with a different character and story. It’s all about the island though – a fantastic mix of jungles, snow-capped peaks as well as weathered cliffs and spectacualr views, it really is stunning to explore. It was between this on Dishonored for £5.09, but Tomb Raider wins because it’s newer and doesn’t have extra DLC costs that bring the price up on a pretty short Dishonored campaign. Also of note was Torchlight II, down to an incredible £3.74

Worst Deal of the Sale
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 – £39.99 down to £19.99
Nearly two years old, BO2 out already, Ghosts coming up pretty soon. Maybe I’m being a little entitled here, but I’d have been expecting a 75% discount for this considering it’s never on sale. Not that I’d buy it, so I guess I can;t really complain. Kudos also goes to Infestation Survivor Stories – although it was only £2.74, it is actually The WarZ by a different name, a game with a metacritic score of 20 due to a completely broken game. It’s barely worth that price, that’s how bad it is.

Hidden Gem of the Sale
The Swapper – £11.99 down to £5.99
The game was in a single 8 hour flash sale, so you may have missed it, but it is quite simply one of the best puzzle platform games made in the past five years. It’s relatively short, but there’s enough in there to justify the price. The puzzles are clever and overall feel of the game is engrossing. If you find it on sale again, it is definitely worth picking up.

Also of note: Ben There, Dan That and Time Gentleman, Please! for a stonking 29p, the cheapest game on sale. Also completely worth it.

Gimmicks
This was the sale of the Trading Cards, whereby special Summer Trading Cards were given for voting in Community Vote polls, every $10 spent and for crafting badges. These would then be used to craft the 2013 Summer Sale badge. A nice gimmick overall and certainly better than the lack of anything since the Coal Scandal from 2011. Personally, I’d like to see a return of sale-specific achievements as they were a bit of fun, but it’s nice to see *something* going on in the background other than low prices.

The only real problem with the cards comes with that fact that the market has crashed over the past week or so, making sales useless. Whether the prices recover or not I couldn’t tell you, but it was very inconvenient timing considering I wanted to build some wallet credit to fuel my purchases.

Game Selection
For the first four days, I don’t think I could fault the sale. A nice variety of titles and a lot of releases from this year in there too, as well as a decent smattering, if a little on the small side, of indie titles. The fact they’re managed to get such good prices on Tomb Raider, Dishonored impressed me a great deal, and it was good to see a few recent indie darling get their time in the sun (Toki Tori 2+, Bit Trip Runner 2). Also of note were Kerbal Space Program and Prison Architect, both of which being alpha games, getting a chance at the limelight.

However, after that it fell flat. Nearly all the daily deals from that point on were repeats of games that had been on flash sales, while the flash sale slots were mostly filling up with old daily deals. The Community Vote was little better in that they did much the same thing – games up for vote would either become flash/daily sales anyway and games that had already been in those sales appeared again the polls. Worse was the games that were in the vote that hadn’t appeared anywhere else never appeared again, including Kentucky Route Zero and Reccetear. I think the sale reached a particular nadir for me when FTL (as great a game as it is) won one of the community votes and went on sale for the fourth time in 10 days after having already been on the dailies and two flash sales.

There was also a big problem with Indie visibility on the site. I know Steam make their big bucks with the heavy hitters, but if you wanted to see what indie titles were on sale you had to rely on lists composed outside of Steam or chance your own arm searching through pages and pages of games in the Steam library. And it was unfortunate considering there were some deep discounts on good games hidden in the depths, like Starseed Pilgrim, Dyad and Pid that could have done with some promoting but were instead left to languish.

Overall
It was decent. That’s about all I can say though. In my opinion, they need to make some changes, especially as GMG and Amazon are both competing and giving Valve a run for its money.

What would I do? Well, first of all the community vote part of the sale has to go. It just encouraged repeats of previous or future games within the sale; games with the highest percentage off and the lowest price would almost certainly win, regardless of quality. I’m not sure what could replace it to get everyone involved but right now it seems surplus to requirement as it doesn’t offer anything that isn’t elsewhere. At the same time, I’d also restrict the flash sales to games that have not appeared in the daily deals for obvious reasons – in this case the ‘encore’ day could also be expanded to also include a selection of popular flash sale games you may have missed. They also need to look at some of the prices too, as on some deals they were undercut by their competitors quite significantly.

But then I’m no economist and if the current method is what makes Steam the most amount of money, I can’t see them changing anything for next time round.

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