For years now, Steam sales have been a pretty huge event that occur a couple of times a year. Offering discounts of up to 90% off of a huge number of games, Steam sales are often celebrated in the PC gaming sphere. Back in November 2015, however, Steam sales changed for good, and ever since, they’ve never quite been the same.
Prior to this, Steam sales had a lot more moving parts. Daily Deals would change every day, bringing the best discounts on a range of titles for one day only before going back to a higher, though still slightly discounted price. A Community Choice section would have users voting on one of three games they wanted to see get a heavier discount, and Flash Sales brought about heavy discounts on a handful of games every eight hours. On top of this, there were even fun free games that saw users fighting enemy monsters in order to unlock Summer Sale Trading Cards and special additional discounts on a range of games.
The way these past Steam sales worked meant that you had a reason to check back in on Steam every day to see what was going on. Had that indie title you were eyeing up got a heavier discount in the Daily Deals or Flash Sales? Was there an awesome game in the Community Choice? Or perhaps you had a couple of spare hours and wanted to grind your way through the Monster Summer Game for extra cards and discounts. Steam sales weren’t just a less chaotic and claustrophobia-inducing way to get some great deals. They were a fun event that had players interacting more than simply scrolling through the pages or checking their wishlists.
The changes in November 2015 eradicated all of this in favor of a system that is far more user-friendly. But, in doing so, they feel pretty much like any other online sale. Games stay at the same discounted price for the duration of the (normally) week-long period. Every 24-48 hours, the games on the front page may change, but it’s nothing you won’t have already seen if you went searching deep into the Store on day one.
What this means is that those who simply don’t have the time to be checking into Steam on a daily or eight-hourly basis are no longer missing out. You no longer have to check in every morning in the hopes that the latest AAA blockbuster had another 10% knocked off its already discounted price. Nor do you need to worry that those games on your wishlist will be at their lowest price just before payday when you can’t afford them.
It’s a system that accommodates for the busy lives of its users, but in doing so, has lost the aforementioned event feel. Santa Gabe is no longer bringing you a bunch of different, further discounted games each day, and you’re likely not spending as much as a result because there’s not the “gotta get it now” urge that there used to be.
Steam’s adoption of this more traditional sales format may be more beneficial to the end user, but in doing so, it lost what made it special. There’s no personality to the proceedings, and while there are still those who will clamor for the latest set of Steam Sale Trading Cards, they’re now completely locked behind a paywall. The old Steam sales made it somehow incredibly fun and easy to hand over fistfuls of cash multiple times throughout a week on games you’d likely never get around to playing. Yet, despite the cries of our wallets, the Steam sales of yore are sorely missed.