What I Learned From My First Steam Summer Sale

0yI4hVfA few months ago, I finally cashed in and built my first (and perhaps overly ambitious) gaming rig. I did this for an abundance of reasons. Firstly, I was starved for a new computer, as my laptop was slowly degenerating into oblivion. Second, I wanted access to a larger range of games and had been slowly cultivating an appreciation for the indie scene. Third, I wanted to know what all the fuss concerning the “PC Master Race” was about, and saw the development of a new rig as a means to represent an additional side of gaming culture. Lastly, there were a lot of review opportunities lost on me as a Geeks Under Grace staff member because I did not have a PC which could run some of the material we need to cover for our audience. While I’d hit some rough patches, the experience as a whole was largely successful, so I eagerly awaited my first real exposure to the heralded Steam Summer Sale, where I would be able to put Vivi (my rig) to the test. My laptop couldn’t handle computer games well, so I never saw a point participating in past years. But those were problems of the old days, before Vivi.  So, June of 2015, I participated.
I participated and I learned. While I’m sure more revelations will come to light in the next few weeks, here are just a handful of the things I’ve taken away from my first Steam Summer Sale.

#1: Everything Looks Interesting (or at Least Worth Trying).

all-the-things

Going into the sale, I had some predetermined interests on my radar, as per my handy-dandy Steam wishlist. I ended up fulfilling over half of that wishlist almost right off the bat, but I definitely wasn’t in the business of limiting myself. No, not yet. I religiously checked for updates every twelve hours, as that’s when the sales (or at least, the flash sales) folded over and new stuff was put on the table. You know what I figured out? While there’s a lot of bleh-looking material out there, a $1.99 price tag makes most objects a temptation.
Not going to lie—I indulged in several impulse-buys, many of which were games that I’d always wanted to try, but had simply forgotten. Other times I found myself looking at random stuff like Democracy 3 and thinking about how useful that would be for helping me understand the underpinnings of our culture at large. I actually considered buying that title more than once, despite the very real knowledge that I was never going to play it, regardless of the unique appeal only a game can provide. Everything had some sort of appeal and seemed worth buying, including the million-and-a-half simulators—a dangerous mindset to wield when surrounded by such staggeringly low price tags.
This inadvertently leads me into my next point.

#2: You Spend Three Times More Money Than You’d Originally Intended (by the Third Day).

I mean, this is basically democracy, right? Or something.

I mean, this is basically democracy, right? Or something.

Thirty-two games was my tally at the end of the sale. Thirty-three if you count Terraria, which was technically a gift. Probably eighteen of those were purchased by the end of my third day. Don’t get me wrong—I knew I was going to spend a fair sum of money. I had a sizeable wishlist, after all. But so much, so quickly? I was left somewhat careening by this shameless display of money-feeding to the trough. Mind you, this was with restraint. All of those simulators I saw before? I didn’t fall for their allure. Democracy 3? Not in the cards, bro.
Yet, the number remained unfettered by any of my valiant displays of self-control. I certainly slowed down my pace on the fourth day, but by then there was no going back. Well, actually there was, you know, because Steam allows for refunds now.
You get the point. Money fell through my wallet and into the Steam machine with more hurry than scalpers to Amiibo.

#3: $25 is Suddenly a Small Fortune (Despite that Easy $60 You Dropped on Splatoon Two Weeks Ago).

How about that? I took my inch and made it a mile. I’ve been gleefully shoveling money at my $60 new releases for over a year, and $50 for all the games in the generation before that. The price has always been high for console games, with a consistent increase for each generational evolution, so it was the norm and expectation. Consequently, I never took issue with the sum presented in retail. At least, not until nearly everything was below $15 dollars for a week. When you start growing accustomed to sales where you can get the first three Arkham games for five dollars a pop, a sale sitting at an otherwise modest tag of $25 doesn’t seem good enough anymore. The wallet starts feeling a bit like a scarecrow, if you know what I’m saying.
Funny_Scarecrows_6

Can we talk for a second about how scarecrows are extremely creepy? Can we talk about that?

When given the power to purchase the entire Borderlands franchise for what amounts to little more than pennies for your average American, you can’t help but be appalled when Steam thinks it can get away with only a 10% discount on Dying Light. I mean, FORTY-FIVE DOLLARS? What do you think I am? A middle-class worker with only a handful of monetary responsibilities who makes more than enough for himself to live with excess? The audacity of some people!

#4: If You Want to Play Them All, You Must Be Patient, Intentional and Organized (to the Point of Absurdity).

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Borderlands is great.

The website howlongtobeat.com served me well on this one. During the sale, I methodically registered each game in a lineup of shortest-to-longest, purposely not accounting for things such as DLC or sidequesting, as those would make it impossible to estimate.  Then I sectioned off all of the games longer than twenty hours into a group and everything shorter into a separate group. The goal is to have one “long” project going at a time, while progressively knocking out the shorter titles or series with episodic installments.  As such my current setup has me playing Fallout: New Vegas as the extensive priority, with Super Meat Boy and Tales from the Borderlands as the secondaries, since those are both registered in the lower echelon of time management.
There’s not much else to say. Having such a large array of gaming interests and endeavors forces me to undergo a ludicrous grind of shuffling and evaluating the commitments to each. Everything needs a chance in the spotlight, even if I don’t technically finish each project I boot up. I’m already working on a review of Super Meat Boy because that game has been great. Absolutely spirit-crushing, but great.

#5: After Assessing Your Post-Sale Priorities, You Realize You’ll Never Have Time to Play Them All (and Cry Yourself to Sleep Because of It).

At least, you won’t be able to play them all anytime soon. After the euphoria of the sale is gone and your friends have stopped talking about it, you realize there’s an obscenely large platter of goodies for you to work through. Unfortunately, video games are more sugar than substance in your time diet. They’re great, sweet, and wonderful, but should be tertiary after work, family, spiritual upkeep, sleep, and of course, food. Food is kind of important. Also, delicious. Can’t forget about additional hobbies, can we? For myself, that includes writing, reading, going on regular runs and workouts, drawing, biking, and a few others. Oh, I’m also moving to a new house, in the process of getting a dog, and have an infinite supply of chores to work through. Wait, don’t stop yet! There’s also dental appointments, getting my glasses repaired, and the endless void of talking with people in the GUG community.
i-m-so-excited-en-ffffff-574x420Realistically, some part of my Steam library is going to grow dormant. Whether or not I eventually wake them all from their sleep to engage in fun adventures to far off worlds is a trivial thought right now. I have other things which demand my attention. Sincerely, I hope my money did not go to waste and I’ll have an opportunity to try all of these games, but I can’t say anything certain right now. As it stands, I’ll make due with my slow crawl through the list, one title at a time. I must be patient. I have time.
Now only one problem remains: what do I do when all of this awesome stuff from E3 drops?
The struggle is real, my friends.
God bless, stay classy, and always remember to smile.

Cooper D Barham

Aspiring author, marriage and family therapist, and active behavioral health technician, Cooper fills his world with God, music, videogames, anime/manga, drawing, reading, writing, and some physical stuff in between. If you ever want to talk about the big or little things of life, fire him a message. Helping others through tough times is both his passion and way of living. 'Got it memorized?'

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