Another Steam Winter Sale has come and gone. I think it was “Winter” this year, and not “Holiday,” as it has occasionally been in past years. I didn’t take a screen shot of the banner. Whatever, you know what I mean.
The usual array of things happened. There was opening day pricing comedy. There was an event in which to participate, in this case the first ever Steam awards. There were cards to earn by voting and by reviewing queues and badges to craft when you collected enough cards. And, of course, stuff was on sale, with price marked down anywhere from a milquetoast 10% (looking at you Civilization VI) to a riveting 75% and beyond.
I will take those topics in order.
Pricing comedy this year, as every year, happened just as the sale launched. This year’s twist was things appearing in the wrong pricing category as opposed to the usual absurdly low or even negative pricing that has happened in past sales. That was all fixed pretty quickly, but not quickly enough to keep me from getting a couple of amusing screen shots back when the sale launched.
The event, The Steam Awards, was an attempt at…something. The categories were presented before the sale and people were asked to nominate titles for them. Then the top nominees were presented, one a day… except for the last day of voting when we got three… for people to vote on. For each vote you got an event card.
The problem with the whole thing is that, in allowing community nominations and voting, I am not sure they can replay this as an event again next year… unless they radically change the categories. Fans of certain games will persist in being fans and will nominate and vote for the same thing every year if you let them. Anyway, the winners were:
- Villain Most in Need of a Hug – Portal 2
- I Thought This Game Was Cool Before It Won an Award – Euro Truck Simulator 2
- Test of Time – The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- Just 5 More Minutes – Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
- Whoooaaaaaaa, dude! – Grand Theft Auto V
- Game Within a Game – Grand Theft Auto V
- I’m Not Crying, There’s Something in My Eye – The Walking Dead
- Best Use of a Farm Animal – Goat Simulator
- Boom Boom – Doom
- Love/Hate Relationship – Dark Souls III
- Sit Back and Relax – Euro Truck Simulator 2
- Better With Friends – Left 4 Dead 2
You can see descriptions of the categories and the other titles nominated at the official Steam award page. As you can see, there are some dupes in winners and some titles a that are a bit long in the tooth. You expect that for the Test of Time category, but maybe not for so many picks. I would have to say that the most fitting winner is probably Goat Simulator, while the biggest travesty is that a Civilization title didn’t win the Just 5 More Minutes category. But then, I don’t play CS:GO.
On the card front, I collect many cards, voting and running my two queues every day. I actually managed to craft one badge but that was it. Going through the queues I did add a couple of more titles to my wish list, so op success for Steam on that, though I am note sure they needed to send me an email about every single item on my wish list that was on sale.
Then, finally, there were games on sale… and unlike the last couple of events, I did actually buy a few items this time around. Here is what I picked up:
Dirt3 Complete Edition – $2.99
Probably the best value of the sale for me. An older title, it looks good and plays well on my system. While it clearly believes you should have a game pad to play, I managed to make to with the keyboard controls. In casual mode you can do the tour and steer while the game limits your speed to what will keep you on the track, so you can pretend you’re instantly good at the game… just don’t turn off some of those helpers or you’ll find out how bad you really are.
You get to drive lots of different cars, including retro models (70s, 80s, and 90s) like my old friend the Lancia Delta. I like the rally courses a lot. Not too keen on the gymkhana drifting and tricks aspect that are a mandatory part of the tour mode.
It also has a decent replay mode that lets you watch your race again from various angles and will allow you to upload the video to YouTube directly should you so desire. I have yet to so desire.
Atari Vault – $7.99
And impulse buy. I actually have an old copy of the Atari classics that probably dates from 2000 or so that still sort-of works when I have a burning desire to play Adventure or remind myself just how bad some of the Atari 2600 games really were. But I figured I wouldn’t be amiss getting an updated version.
Train Valley – $3.39
Purchased on something of a whim, this did not turn out to be quite what I expected. There was a promise of sandbox play and I had dreams of large rail empires… I mean, look at all that track I have laid in Minecraft. But the game itself seems limited to one screen of area on which you are allowed to play, so your layouts cannot get too sprawling. Meanwhile, the sandbox mode is more in the vein of a developers sandbox in which to experiment as opposed to what you might think of as a sandbox in the MMO world.
Still, it is a fun little game in its own right and I spent a few hours playing it so far… and as I made it through various challenges I did manage to get more than my fair share of head-on rail collisions.
Prison Architect – $7.49
I did not buy this for myself but for my daughter who, upon learning of the Steam sale, put a few titles up on her wish list and then came over and mentioned this to me. So I bought her this, and she actually played the hell out of it over the holiday break from school. It looks pretty good and is one of those systemic process models where feeback loops (positive or negative) quickly make themselves apparent. So I watched over her shoulder as she built cells, suppressed riots, and tried to figure out why the inmates inexplicably refused to the dining hall. This has been on my wishlist and I might pick it up for myself the next time it goes on sale.
Stardew Valley – $9.99
Another one for my daughter, whose wish list is limited by the fact that she has an iMac. I was actually a bit surprised to find this title was available for MacOS. I’ve heard lots of good things about it and it made the Steam Top 100 for 2016, a list based on sales revenue, which isn’t bad for a game with a $15 base price. My daughter started playing it and got into it right away, though she was still feeling the draw of Prison Architect, so went back to that. But she enthused enough about it that I bought a copy for myself before the end of the sale. I have yet to launch it, but it is now in my library.
So that was it for the Steam sale. I was going to buy Doom, which was 75% off, then totally forgot to on the last day and found it full price when I looked back to do it. Probably for the best.
I did actually buy a few things this time around, but didn’t splurge. I tried to keep it to just a few items so that I would play them rather than simply collect them.