Monday, December 24, 2012

Why Steam's Holiday Sale Isn't Really Grabbing Me This Year

Wallets all over the world cry out in fear whenever game distribution software Steam (from Valve corporation) unleashes its winter and summer sales each year. The prices on these PC games don't just get low; they get stupidly low, to the point where you feel like a fool for not participating. Dead Island: Game Of The Year Edition was $6.79 for example, and Skyrim was just under $30. Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition with all of its downloadable content is $13.49 as I type this. It's absolute insanity, and if you're a PC gamer, you already know about it. For some reason however..., it's not quite the same this year. I don't know about anyone else, but this year, I'm not seeing myself particularly excited for any titles on sale, though I am still checking each time a deal updates just in case. I have a few theories about what's causing this lack of excitement however, and want to know if anyone else is looking at things the same way as me.

The first theory is that I've simply bought so many titles from the previous sales, that there's not much left to interest me anymore, other than a few choice titles that came out this year specifically. If this is the case, the I obviously can't blame Steam for it, but I think this issue goes a little deeper than that...

The second theory (and pretty much the most important one to me), is that Steam isn't adding much incentive in the way of purchasing things besides the sale prices themselves anymore. Other than a few games like Killing Floor, which added a new Christmas-themed scenario, there's nothing to really keep us coming back to these games. The previous year, there was plenty to do, just as there was the summer before that. Steam added special holiday achievements, which you had to complete by purchasing and downloading certain games, and actually playing through certain scenarios with something pertaining to the holidays. In Killing Floor, you had to defeat an evil Santa; in Trine, you had to find an item resembling a present; in The Binding of Isaac, you had to defeat Krampus, the demonic companion creature to Saint Nicholas (who is supposed to frighten the bad children, while Saint Nicholas rewards the good, but I won't go into that right now. You have Wikipedia, don't you?).

When you gained an achievement in the game, it would reflect back on your Steam profile, and would either gift you with a piece of coal, or a reward, like a free game or a coupon for a popular one. If you had enough pieces of coal, you could also trade them for another real reward. This was absolutely great, as it got me going back to games I thought I was long-since done with prior. It's not that Steam has to keep doing these things every year to keep me coming back and looking at what's on sale each season, but for the people who already have everything else they want from the site, I think it's a great way to keep people coming back for more.

Is there anyone else in the same boat as me here, or do all my PC gamer friends simply not pay attention to little details like these?