Another Steam Winter Sale Fades Away

One last poke at 2015… for now.

I always want to use water vapor as a metaphor when I write about Steam.  As it turns out however, water vapor is relatively untapped as a source of humor, though Wikipedia assures me that as much as 80% of electrical generation involves steam in some form or another.  Also, autoclaves.

So the best I can manage is something about dissipation or condensation… which I think both accurately describe some aspects of the just past (should be done before this posts) Steam Winter Sale.

Through 10am on January 4th, which is today...

Through 10am on January 4th, which is today…

The dissipation aspect was the nature of the sale itself.  As I previously noted, gone were the daily deals, flash sales, and other usual methods to get us all to stare at the Steam Store wondering if we should buy now or delay.  Everything that was going on discount was at the same price throughout the sale.

That took a bit of the edge off of things for sure.  One could ponder one’s wishlist at leisure and decide if the price was right… though I must admit that my own wishlist is sort of a video game purgatory, where games are sent to linger in an uncertain state, neither purchased nor ignored, for years at a stretch.

Then there was condensation, an opposite action in order to give focus.  In this case, the usual holiday card game required you to go through three recommendation queues each day in order to earn the cards.  Just the sort of minimal OCD sort of activity that works for me.  I went through every day, earning 39 cards, which I guess means that the sale was 13 days long… or maybe I missed a day.

Cards obtained

Cards obtained… and there was no tomorrow when I got this message…

I actually got enough cards to complete the set for once, which allowed me to craft a badge of some sort… not sure what that did, but it got me to level 9 in Steam levels.  I actually badgered Gaff to trade me the one card I needed and, after he finally consented, got that card in the next set of draws.

The queues themselves… which is a feature that showed up like a year ago… I think… are made up of 12 games that Steam thinks you might like based on your past purchasing behavior.  I had run through a couple queues back when they first launched the idea, but haven’t really looked at them since.   And then they became part of this event and I looked at a minimum of 39 of them… more I think, since at least one day I did an extra one, and then I did an extra one yesterday because I suddenly couldn’t remember how many games were in one.  And I went through them with moderate care, not just ripping through them to get my treat at the end.  So, by the last day I had looked at a lot of games.

Some Stats Steam Has on Me

Some Stats Steam Has on Me

I did add some to my wishlist… I think I had 20 games there to start with, though I took a few off as I added more… so maybe 20 games added total.   And, of course, I flagged more than a few as “not interested,” all of which left me with a few observations.

-Jesus there are a lot of games on Steam!  Somebody probably has an absolute number (Google says “more than 6,000”), but there is a difference between a number and actually wading through a few hundred.

-We still need to master the whole online interface for shopping.  Sure, there are more than 6,000 games on Steam, but you only ever see maybe a dozen at a time on the front page and devs are so inconsistent with descriptions that search likely won’t find everything you might want to see.

-How many Call of Duty titles has Activision made at this point?

-You buy one freakin’ Amine themed game (Valkyria Chronicles) and Steam feels the need to show you every other one it can find.

-Flagging something “Not Interested” seems to only impact that particular title.  Flagging half a dozen Anime themed games seemed to do nothing to abate the flow of them through my queue.

-Likewise, flagging something “Not Interested” when it is part of a series of games doesn’t seem to have any impact on being offered other games in the series.

-Removing something from your wishlist though, that makes that particular title appearing in your next queue pretty much a lock.

-There are way too many games out there, judging by description alone, that were made by grabbing 2-4 words from this list and running with it:

  • Sandbox
  • Survival
  • Shooter
  • Roguelike
  • Builder
  • RTS
  • Simulation
  • RPG
  • Story-drive
  • SciFi
  • 2D/3D
  • Platformer
  • Unique
  • Adventure

-There seemed to be a correlation between how dubious/low reviewed/indy a given title was and how much their description leaned on the 2-4 words they chose from that list.  Quality titles (subjective observation) don’t seem to go with those words in their description, all the more so since Steam has tags for that sort of thing.  (Also, remember when Steam tags were the end of the universe?)

-On the flip side, I only saw this used in a description once, and more is the pity; “retrofuturism.”  That is a word worthy of your game’s description.

-There are a load of space sim games out there.  Seriously, if you’re preaching that people must support Star Citizen because there are not enough space sims out there, you just aren’t looking very hard.  Okay, yes, nothing out there is aiming as high as Star Citizen, but there are a lot of niche titles on Steam that would likely tickle some aspect of your space sim needs until Chris Roberts finishes his magnum opus.

-There aren’t very many cowboy games.  Or at least there were not any in my queues.

And how well did all of that wading through queues work out for Steam?

If they were looking to get some money from me, not very well.  I ended up buying no new titles during the sale.

Which does not mean I did not add a new title to my library.  In one of my queues was a game called Endless Sky that I almost flipped past until the words “Escape Velocity” jumped out of its description.

Escape Velocity was a game from Ambrosia Software that I played the hell out of back in the 90s.  That was a long time ago on an operating system far, far away.  That triggered a moment of nostalgia, which I almost let pass… until I saw that Endless Sky was free.

I am not sure how “free” for a game with no add on sales is working for Steam, but I grabbed it and invested a few hours into it over the weekend.  While it is a work in progress, it does feel like the Escape Velocity.

So out of all of those daily queues, that was my big score: a free game based on a game I played about 20 years ago.

I am not sure that is the retrofuturism you were looking for.

Was there anything else worth getting during the sale?  Anything that couldn’t wait until summer?  And did Steam’s holiday queue magic work on you?

12 thoughts on “Another Steam Winter Sale Fades Away

  1. SynCaine

    My Steam account is level 40, because I’m a card-collecting muppet.

    I liked this sale more than those in previous years, in large part to the simplicity. The queue thing was a nice touch IMO, mixing in the card reward aspect with existing functionality, resulting in 3-4 purchases.

    Also I think Steam has 10k titles? The inventory exploded with Early Access.


  2. Liore

    I was excited about the Steam sale before it launched, but I think I missed the daily check-ins. It turns out I spent… $.69 on a puzzle game.


  3. Jacob

    I had been meaning to play Skyrim for a while, but never managed to pull the trigger. Apparently $4.99 was low enough for me to pick it up.

    The nice thing about offline games (as opposed to games which require multiplayer, e.g. MMO, FPS etc…) is that picking it up years late, the experience is still just as good (or even better due to DLC and mods etc..) than it would have been had I bought it for full retail!


  4. bhagpuss

    I might actually start using Steam when/if I get it going on my Windows tablet. The choice of games in the actual Windows Store is dismal and I would probably play a few point&click adventures on a tablet now and again, particularly on holiday. Must look into that.


  5. Mbp

    I did buy a few games in the sale but my main participation was compulsively clicking through my queue to collect trading cards which I promptly sold. My two weeks of compulsive clicking netted me just over €2 :(


  6. Simon

    bhagpus, there are quite a few games ported from tablets that show up in the store. Best way to find them is probably to search the category “casual”.

    Some of them do get negative reviews from “Steam Gamers”, but then they aren’t really the intended audience.

    (Also the tablet ports are usually dirt cheap, especially during the sales).


  7. zaphod6502

    I bought some Dishonored DLC (not because of the Steam sale but because I was replaying it). Apart from that there wasn’t anything that interested me.


  8. Jeromai

    The discovery queue did very little for me, I kept forgetting to go do it daily, mostly because wading through tons of early access and popular titles do nothing for me purchasing decision-wise beyond “ok, maybe later, when it’s done or when it’s cheaper.”

    I found that not having excitement from daily flash sales kinda diminished the whole event for me, but did appreciate the leisure time to see the lowest price offered on the first day and then take a week or more to consider before buying.

    My wishlist saw the most workout as a result, some stuff being added to wait for later, and some stuff taken off either through being bought or no longer being interested.

    I nabbed a few adventure games I’d been eyeing for some time, and decided to cave in for Shadowrun: Hong Kong and the two Endless games from Amplitude Studios I still hadn’t got (Endless Legends and Dungeons of the Endless.)

    The irony is that I’m still struggling with a previously purchased Endless Space in the past few days, going through repeated cycles of “this seems so difficult, I don’t understand what’s going on” “maybe I’m not cut out for this genre/UI” “maybe Endless Legends on an actual Civ-like planet would be easier to grasp” “hrm, what if I reload and try this suggestion off a guide I read” “ha, maybe I can do this after all, I’m winning” “oh god, what is the AI doing to me now” repeat cycle.

    Someday I’ll get to the game I actually bought this sale…


  9. halycon

    I added more games to my steam library from a Humble Bundle than I did from the Steam sale.

    Oh, and the anime thing is very annoying. I finally bought Recettear about a year ago, great game and full of stupid quotable lines, and since then 50% of my suggestions have been Anime. I bought one, now they think I want to buy all the anime. It gets old fast. Very old.


  10. flosch

    Bad suggestions is something I constantly seem to struggle with myself. By now, I have the feeling that it might be less the suggestion algorithms (they seem to work for many people, after all), and more unfortunate tagging and how those tags are used by the algorithm.

    So games with an anime theme are tagged “anime”, and since you obviously like anime games, you’ll be buried under a pile of anime games. I have the same issue with Spotify, where I listen to some very specific German-language rock genre every now and then, and get weekly discovery lists full of horrible german-language pop music that have nothing to do with what I listen to. It makes this whole weekly list thing utterly useless, which is even more aggravating because so many people rave about how great it is.

    I wish I had a solution for that. Maybe install and “AFK-play” (run in background) some non-anime games? It’s silly, but maybe it’ll help.


  11. Chordian

    I’m going through the discovery queue in kind of a backwards way because I have a checklist database kind of web site where people can “Steam Sync”, adding a ton of new games for me to research and acknowledge. That pops me into Steam game pages for each ID, and after validating the data from it, I take a look at the video and usually choose to be not interested about it. For that reason I have very weird queue statistics: only 132 viewed, yet 1775 ignored so far. Still, it has been a great way to dive into the Steam game database in a different way and find unique gems for my wishlist.

    There’s an amazing amount of visual novels and hidden object adventure games in Steam. Much more than I would have believed without this validation procedure to prove it.

    Btw, for a fun game that people will mock you for owning (I was and it was even gifted to me which one guy refused to believe) check this one out:


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