Rejoice, fellow PC gamers. A glorious and terrible time is at hand. A time when our wallets may be empty, but our Steam libraries will be full. A time of wonderful memes and ever changing daily deals where you can catch up on all the games you’ve missed out on.
But how do you know you’re getting the best bang for your buck? The first few Steam sales, I can’t tell you how many times I bought a game for 50% off, only to curse my stupidity when I saw it for 75% off a mere hour later.
Friends, we do not want this to happen to you. Therefore, we have created this handy guide.
But first, let us spend a moment rejoicing that we get these sales at all:
How do I know when it’s the right time to buy?
When you first enter a steam sale, everything looks like it’s on sale.
Technically, this is true. But it is also a dirty lie.
There are four types of deals you can get during a Steam Sale:
Daily Deals: These are featured games of the day, with sales usually ranging from 50% – 90% off depending on the type of game and how long it’s been out. These last anywhere from 24-48 hours, depending on the parameters of the sale.
Flash Sales: These are side deals, in this sale there are 15 games featured for 12 hours before a new set of sales comes in.
Community Choice: Like the flash sales, these appear every eight hours. You get to vote from one of three games/deals and the winner will be featured for purchase.
Passive Sales: These are the games that aren’t featured in any of the three salves above. They act as most steam games do… just sitting on their respective pages for about 33%-50% off. DO NOT BUY THESE. Remember the dirty lie we told you about? That’s what these are. You may get them thinking you’re getting a great deal, only for some of them to appear on a daily deal for even better savings. You’ve been warned.
The only instance it’s okay to purchase it is if you must have the game now and it is the last day of the sale, as in that case it won’t be featured again until possibly the next steam sale.
And, just for the heck of it, here’s a handy flow chart we found on reddit to help you with your decision making process:
What if I miss a game on a featured sale of some kind? Should I buy it on passive sale then?
No! Fear not. On the last day of a steam sale, everything that was previously featured on sale goes on sale again in one big extravaganza. It’s called an encore sale and it is a gift from the deity known as Gabe Newell.
Do you have any general tips?
Tip 1: Unless you absolutely need the game now, do not buy it unless it’s at least 75% off.
Tip 2: If the game is less than 75% off, say 66%, do not by the game unless it is below $10.
Tip 3: Fill up your wishlist. Steam will send you e-mail notifications that tell you when those games are on sale instead of you having to hunt for them.
Any last advice?
Yes. If you can’t get something for a deal that makes you happy or if you’re debating on whether to pick up a game… remember there will be other Steam sales this year during Fall and Winter. A game that is 50% off now may not only have its base price lowered by then, but also be 75% off which will compound your savings considerably. What might be $20 dollars today will be $6.50 later this year.
Patience is your friend.