Tag Archives: Steam Summer Sale

The Passing of the 2018 Steam Summer Sale

If I scheduled this correctly, the Steam Summer Sale of 2018 should have wrapped up about fifteen minutes before this post went live.

In its way it was the same thing we have come to expect over the years.  The daily deals remain a thing of the past and hundreds… possibly thousands… of games are offered up at a discount.  Also, there was a game to play and cards to collect.  I collected cards via the event game and by browsing my queue three times daily.  That, and some trading, let me craft the badge for the event.  Go me.

Level 4 even…

Going through the queue as many times as I did, I could detect some patterns.  I bought an Anime flagged title in the past… the Valkyria Chronicles… which seemed to make Steam believe that I wanted whole queues of nothing but Anime titles proffered for my inspection.  Generally I flip past those, but this time around I decided to see if I could fix my queue, so I clicked the “not interested” button until the empire of Anime subsided.

That left my queue at least a little more on point.  Not that it came up with gems I might have missed.  Rather, it seemed to confirm the fact that there is a lot of derivative crap on Steam.  I was not aware as to how many psuedo-Civilization knock-offs there were, all with titles that were something like World Civilization Conquest of the Ages.

I did find one possible gem in my queue, OGRE.

I put it on my wishlist, though I did not buy it yet.  I played it, and its companion game GEV, back when they came in zip-lock bags at the hobby shop, but I wasn’t feeling the need to go quite that far back in time.

And, of course, I managed to screw up my queue on my own by putting other things I found funny on my wishlist.  I use the wishlist not so much as a shopping list than as a way to find games later because… so many damn games on Steam, if I don’t remember the title just right I’ll never find it again.

So when I put Blockchain Tycoon on my wishlist for a laugh, I was rewarded on my next few passes through my queue with Bitcoin Tycoon and Bitcoin Mining Empire Tycoon and Bitcoin Trading Master and Bitcon Farm and Bitcoin Collector and Cryptocurrency Clicker and I am tired of linking them.  There are more, including VR variations on the theme.  And they all look like crap.  I mean, I might laugh at something like EuroTruck Simulator now and again, but at least some effort went into that.  What I was seeing was… and I keep using this phrase… cheap, derivative crap, meant only to cash in on a current fad and unlikely to succeed at even that.

But I am not here to get back onto the “you know what’s wrong with Steam…” train again.  I am here to talk about what I bought during the Steam Summer Sale because I did indeed buy a few items this year.

The first item I picked up was Fallout 4.

I have been aware of the Fallout series since the original came out more than 20 years ago.  Despite it being the so-called spiritual successor to the original Wasteland, which I played to death on the Apple II, I have somehow managed to avoid picking up a copy of any of the various versions of the games… until now.  I am about four hours into it at this point.  I’ve collected the big iron suit, killed that nasty monster, and have gone off into the world only to have the batteries on the suit run out.

The second item on the list was Hearts of Iron IV.

This was an after 8pm impulse buy last Friday night when I wanted something in the grand strategy vein to play.  I am sure if I go back and check purchase dates and times, I would find that this is when I purchased most of the games from Paradox that I currently own.

I get all worked up for such a game and then end up defeated trying to pick up the basic flow of the game.  Almost everything from Paradox loves to throw a ton of details at you straight away without necessarily helping you build that into anything like a coherent strategy.

I will admit that it is easier to get a hold of than Hearts of Iron III… or Crusader Kings II or most of the other Paradox titles that languishing in my Steam library… and I feel like I am almost there when it comes to enjoying it.  I just have to find a good 4-6 hour stretch to focus on it.

And the third item was Oxygen Not Included.

I blame peer pressure for this one as several people in the MCats Slack channel have been going on and on about it.

And it is pretty fun.  Of my three purchases I have spent the most time with this.  It is a base building survival game which, I must admit, there are many variations of on Steam.  In fact, I already own one of those in the form of RimWorld, which I wrote about previously.

Oxygen Not Included is done from a side scroll perspective and spends a lot of time dealing with very basic issues, like getting enough air to breath and toilets overflowing.  Also you do a lot of digging up and down.  RimWorld has a top down perspective and you spend more time constructing buildings, furnishing them, fighting off the locals, and recruiting passers by to join your colony.  Also the weather plays into things a lot and you end up in the HVAC business eventually.

Overall I think I prefer RimWorld more… but I also think RimWorld is further along in its development.  But both of them largely involve moving from one crises to the next until you hit some level of stability.

So those are my three purchases.  I feel good that I have actually played all three.  My vow with Steam is not to buy something unless I plan to play it TODAY.

Steam also had some info up about games overall so far in 2018.  They had lists of the overall top sellers so far in 2018.

Top Sellers so far for 2018

They were divided into categories without any numbers attached.  Interesting that Warframe is on the list.  It has been out for ages, I’ve barely heard anything about it, but it seems to be doing well.  Somebody on my Steam friend’s list played 100 hours of it over a 2 week period.  Perhaps something to put on my list.

Comparing it to the Best of 2017 list that Steam had with the Winter sale, a lot of the titles are repeats.

Other categories were top sellers among games launched this year so far and top sellers among VR titles, which wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to make the first two lists.

The other interesting one for me was the top simultaneous players list, those games that had more that 100K at a time.

Most simultaneous players so far in 2018

Again, looks a bit like the December numbers as well as lining up with the best sellers.

Anyway, another Steam Summer Sale has come and gone.  Time to go clean up my wish list so my queue isn’t full of Bitcoin games come the winter.

When the Steam Summer Sale Hits While You Are on Vacation

You can tell just by checking your email.

Only 25? Is that all?

My Steam wishlist is long, full of games I as much want to watch as actually buy and play. But now the test as to which category some of those games fall into has hit yet again.

Intergalactic Summer Sale is On!

At least I have some time to consider what is on my list. Fallout 4 is right at the top, and with all the talk of the new Fallout 76 coming along it is tempting.

Of course, it will be time to return to Azeroth in not too long, with the opening events for the Battle for Azeroth expansion no doubt hitting some time by the end of July. Do I have time to binge and RPG before then?

The End of the 2017 Steam Summer Sale

Another Steam Summer Sale has come and gone.

Summer Sale 2017 Version

I logged in every day and collected all the stickers from the event.  I managed to get one full set of the trading cards so I could turn those in.  I even added about a dozen new games to my wishlist as ran through my daily queue.

But the real question is; did I buy anything?

Well, yes.  Yes I did.  As I noted previously, I went into this sale keen to buy some titles.  I was l was looking for something new, something to shake up the current, slightly stale state of my gaming.  I showed up to chew gum and buy games… and I was all out of gum.  So what did I buy.

Mini Metro

I already posted about this game at the start of the sale.  I actually liked it enough that I bought the iOS version to play on my iPad Air 2… which I notice actually has a higher screen resolution than the 19th century steam powered monitor on my computer.  Hrmm…   Anyway, good stuff, but still light fare.  I like it on the iPad because I can play while I watch TV.

RimWorld

This has been on my list for a while, but Early Access is a bit of a red flag for me.  However, after SynCaine wrote about it I decided it might be worth the gamble.

I bought it, I played for a couple of hours, then I stopped.  I didn’t stop because the game was bad.  I stopped because this game really needs a rainy day when my wife and daughter are out and I have an excuse to not do anything else for hours at a stretch.  My impressions were good, but I didn’t want to jump in until I had time to really immerse myself in it.  So now it sits in my Steam library waiting for its time.

Civilization VI

The inevitable purchase.  Having owned every Sid Meier game in the series up to this point, it was only a matter of time before I grabbed this one.

However, I am mildly disappointed with it.  I only have a couple of hours in, but my disappointment was almost immediate.  Upon starting off it seemed like they spent a lot more time making graphics and spiffy animations and other things that, for me, just get in the way of the actual mechanics of the game.  Classically, the first 100 or so turns of a Civilization game are the most exciting part, or so legend say.  However, as the series has progressed, the free wheeling aspect of the initial phase of the game has been toned down.  Civilization VI, subjectively, feels like the culmination of this to me.

Also, the AI remains as dopey as ever.  I had a scout on automatic.  He went up an isthmus and got hung up on a barbarian camp there.  I took over and moved him in another direction as there were other unexplored areas he could have chosen.  I left him on the edge of unexplored plains and set him to automatic again… and he ran straight back to the same damn barbarian camp.

I might need a rainy day to dig into this as well, but my immediate, superficial response to Civ VI is a hearty “Meh” and a desire to figure out where my Civ II disk went.  Civ II remains my favorite in the series.

And that was it.  Three games.  Not exactly an overflowing bag of loot.  There were a few titles I was strongly considering buying… I was at home on the evening of the fourth wondering if I should pull the trigger on any of them… but ended up not doing so.  The key contenders were:

Doom

I put this on my wishlist after it came out because people who were into it were so jazzed up about it.  I haven’t been much on shooters for at least a decade, but Doom was so well received that the sale price almost made me take the plunge.

Saints Row IV

I put this on my wishlist on a whim at one point due to somebody going on about how great the Saints Row series is.  I’ve never played any of it… I’ve never even seen it played.  But it seems whimsical and silly in its style, and the price was down at the eight dollar level for the sale.  And then something in the back of my head said, “Isn’t this series something of a parody of the Grand Theft Auto series?” and I was afraid I might not appreciate the reference unless I played something from the original.

Grand Theft Auto V

So I went looking for the current champion of the genre.  It has the reviews.  It has history.  It has Target Australia on its case.  What is not to love?  But when I got to the store page on Steam the reviews were atrocious.  I gather, reading the more recent ones, that Rockstar did something to piss off its user base, but I wasn’t sure how deep I needed to go into reviews to find any other objection, so I decided to give it a pass.  So, reviews make a difference.

At the end of the day I purchased three new games, with is three more than I bought in the last Summer Sale when I was feeling a “sale weariness” around Steam.  If the three I considered strongly, but did not purchase, I am still open to them down the road if somebody has something to add to their reputation.  They are still on my wishlist.

The odd side effect of the sale though has been my jumping back into some older games after reading about new ones.  But that is a topic for another post.

Mini Metro

Mini Metro had been on my Steam wish list for a while.

That isn’t saying much.  I put lots of things on my wish list to consider buying later, to look into, or just to remind myself that they exist.  Titles can linger there for ages, waiting for a something to push me either to buy them or drop them from the list.

Fortunately for me… or the game… or both… Zubon did a write-up about the game which tipped the balance in favor of my grabbing it as soon as the Steam Summer Sale hit.  And it is all he said it was, light and simple and elegant in design.

I was a little bit surprised when I first launched the game as it drops you straight into playing.  There is no mucking about in any menus or settings, you’re just on what is essentially the playing field playing the game.  It is a strategy that works with a game of such a spare interface.

At its heart it is the same game as Train Valley, of which I wrote previously.  The player sets up a transit network based on a set of stations which gradually increase over time, servicing a population that has destinations in mind.

Mini Metro sheds all of the non-essentials, paring away money and rewards and switches and collisions, leaving just the necessities.  Your passengers are simple shapes who want to travel to a station that matches them in stylized versions of major cities.

Four Lines running through London

You  passengers are not picky.  If they are circles, they just want to get to one of the likely many circle stations on your map.  Other shapes are more rare, some of them being one per map.  You draw out and change your transit lines by just dragging them.  Your rolling stock are little rectangles that move up and down the line, stopping at stations to pick up or drop off passengers.

There are, of course, constraints.  That is what makes it a game really.

There is a limit on the number of transit lines you can have and tunnels for crossing water and trains and carriages to which you have access.  When a new week starts up every Sunday you are given a new train and the option to add something else in a binary choice.  You might have the option add another line (which will require your train) or a couple of tunnels or a carriage that allows a a train to carry additional passengers, or a special station that loads and unloads passengers more quickly.  But the you only get two options each week and you only get to choose one.

And then there are the passengers, who get upset if your transit system leaves them piling up in stations for too long, with grumpy sounds and angry black timer circles forming if they are backed up.

Some unhappy Londoners south of the Thames

Passengers are the ultimate constraint, the one that will end your game.  If the timer circle sweeps through the full 360 degrees, your transit system fails and you are done.

Game over man!

Score is measured in how many passengers you have delivered and how long your transit system lasted.

There is a list of maps representing different international metropolitan environments from London to Paris to New York to Shanghai.  Each map has a simplified representation of the water obstacles the city presents, tunnels being a key constraint as your system expands.  There are also some variations on some of the maps.  In Cairo the trains only hold four passengers rather than the six on other maps, while in Osaka you get fast moving bullet trains to help move your population about.

Osaka on the list…

There is a hierarchy of maps and map difficulty, and to unlock the next map you have to deliver a certain number of passengers on your current map.  There is also a list of achievements for doing specific things on various maps, if you are looking for additional constraint.

The game reminds me of a software package I used back in college.  I took a class, the name of which I have long since forgotten, which was essentially holistic systems analysis.  The software, which I wish I still had, let you model processes as water flow, so you could lay out something like the DMV and see where the bottlenecks and the idle locations were.  By abstraction, you could see the flow of a system.  Mini Metro is like that, even to a real transit planner.

Anyway, the game, which is an inexpensive indy title to start with, is even cheaper with the coming of the Steam Summer Sale.  If you like this sort of system management I recommend picking it up.  There are even iOS and Android versions of the title in the respective app stores.

The Steam Summer Sale 2017 Arrives

As predicted/expected/hoped, the Steam Summer Sale went live at 17:00 UTC today.

Summer Sale Comes Again

I have been much less ambivalent about the upcoming sale than I have been in past years.  I am feeling the itch for a new game or three.  So as soon as the sale went live I checked my wishlist and… nothing I added recently is on sale.

Ah well.

This year the activities are driven by quests to obtain sticker by performing various activities.  Going through your discover queue is the obvious one, but there are other tasks.

Sticker pack for checking my prefs

Of course, the immediate heavy load on the store meant that such tasks led to errors, but it will smooth out once the rush to find the inevitably comically mis-priced items has died down.

Since my wishlist let down my initial rush of enthusiasm, I’ll have to stalk the store to see what I can find.  Or maybe I will buy something I really want at full price.  It’s been known to happen.

How are you feeling about Steam this summer?

Steam, What Have You Wrought?

Things that are not supposed to happen over the course of a Steam Summer Sale; have your Steam Left number go down.

Before the Steam Summer Sale 2015, my count was:

74 days would get me through the summer...

74 days would get me through the summer…

Here, at the tail end of the sale, with the counter running down, my tally is:

I played some video games

I played some video games

Somewhere in between the start of the search for the summer game and now, I played 12 hours and didn’t buy anything.  And I am not even sure how I played that much, as the only game on Steam I played much of was War Thunder.  Well, time adds up.

Meanwhile, things like Steam Left and the long list of games in my Steam library has trained me over the years to not buy games unless I am going to play them right then and there.  And so I ended up buying nothing from the Steam Summer Sale.

Not that there were not things on sale, often at very attractive prices.

Steam Summer Sale 2015

Steam Summer Sale 2015

There were a number of items on my wishlist that I had my eye on.  Earlier in the year Cities: Skylines seemed to be the rightful heir to Sim City, given the praise it got.   Likewise, Project CARS seemed to be the driving sim of the year, getting high praise from those who purport to know best, with both local and online play available.  Something to replace the soon to depart Need for Speed World maybe?

But I wasn’t on the edge of my seat ready to play either title and the discounts, while good for somewhat recent releases, were not too good to pass up.

Not that discounts levels sold me on anything either.  I had one game on my wishlist that was marked down to $1.24 for the sale… and I didn’t buy it.  I guess that means I ought to take it off my wishlist, since I don’t think it will ever get any cheaper than that.  To be fair, it did have mixed reviews and I put it on the list more to remind me to look into it again than because I was going to buy… but still, at $1.24 you think I’d just buy it.

Apparently not.

Then, of course, there was the sea of titles that interest me a bit, but which are not really my thing.  I am tempted to get Alien: Isolation because I have heard such good things about its atmosphere… and it was 75% off at various times… but in the end it seemed likely to just sit in my library unplayed.

And I always get excited when the Traveller’s Tales LEGO games are on sale… until I remember that they really play like crap on the PC unless you have a game pad… and even when you have a game pad it still feels like an awkward port.  The definitive experience for those games is on a console, in your living room, with a controller.

So I ended up here, at the end of the sale, having purchased nothing.  Which is fine… I hardly needed any more unplayed games in my library.  But it is amusing to consider how things have changed, how the Steam Summer Sale used to be such a big deal and how I would buy things just because they were priced so damn attractively.  Steam has trained me over the years to hold off and only buy things that I am sure I will play.

The Passing of Another Steam Summer Sale

Another Steam Summer Sale has come and gone.

As others have noted, its regularity… and the fact that we get a Holiday sale in December… has taken some of the edge off of the whole thing.  Seeing a whole pile of games marked down was a huge deal the first couple of times we saw it.  Now, however, we have come to expect it.

Oh look, games on sale... yawn...

Oh look, games on sale… yawn…

Such sales have changed my behavior some.  If there is a game I have to have right away, I still buy it right there and then… unless the sale is around the corner.  Steam screwed me on that last year.  I bought the Brave New World expansion for Civilization V the day it launched, despite the summer sale coming up.  And then two days later the Summer Sale launched and the expansion was marked down, a gaffe that even Steam realized might have been a discount too soon.

Steam tries to make up

Steam tries to make up

So maybe I won’t pre-order anything that will launch close to the sales zones any more, but otherwise my behavior on must-haves has not changed.

But for things I am not sure about, games that are not “must have” but merely nice to have… the Steam sales process has changed my behavior quite a bit.  My wish list is now filled with things that I “sorta” want, if the price is right, and I am in a good mood.  The impulse buy aspect of Steam sales has been replaced by watching my wish list.  I look at what is on sale that day, then look at my wish list, ponder if anything is “must have” at their current price, and then move on, generally without buying anything.

This year I did end up buying a couple of games.  One was for the strategy group “next game” plan that I wrote about last week, and which makes a good example of how Steam has influenced me.

While we had a list of potential games, Total War: Rome II was the primary contender, backed by Loghound. (I had other suggestions, but I wasn’t sold on any of them.)  A not-too-old release, it still has a list price of $59.99, the current benchmark price for AAA games from major studios.  As the summer sale was already in progress, it was marked down to half off.  $29.98 wasn’t a bad price.  There is a whole lot of game there.

But Steam has taught me to always wait until the REAL DEAL has been offered.  So while Rome II was the prime candidate, nobody moved to purchase it until Friday, because it wasn’t until Friday that the REAL DEAL kicked in and the price dropped to $20.37.  At that price it was an easy purchase and all of us picked up a copy.  So that is the tentative next game for the group, once we finish up our Civ V game (at some point in August by my guess) and if it turns out to be suitable.  A quick look shows a battle style that gives you a budget to buy units in advance, so I suspect this could mean long lead times before we actually play.  But the single player campaign looks to be worth the investment, so even if we don’t play it much, it was probably worth the money with the deep discount.

So there it is.  Our next game has been chosen.

I did have two impulse purchases, one of which was Europa Universalis IVas it had been marked down to $9.99.  It has been on my wish list since it launched, so I am not sure if it is really an “impulse” buy, but I grabbed it.  It is one of those games… like its predecessors… that I really want to like, but which is so complicated and so deep that I can never get into it and actually play.  I spend most of my time trying to figure out how to do simple things, which quickly becomes frustrating.  I have no reason to suspect that this will be any different.

The other was Ticket to Ride, which I already own on the iPad.  I should have just stuck with that.  The iPad version is the game as it should be played and as it should look and perform.  The Windows version is slow, graphically inferior, and prone to buffering mouse clicks as you wait for it to catch up, leading to many a mis-played moment.  I regret this purchase and I could not recommend this on Steam even at its very low sale price.

And, in a sale related matter that isn’t really about Valve or Steam, I was just a tiny bit annoyed to see Planetary Annihilation early access up on the list of things on sale… or even available at all.  I backed their kickstarter, but not at a level high enough to get early access yet.  I get a finished copy and that is all, but I actually paid more for that than the early access sale, which also gets you a full copy.  And Uber Entertainment, the studio behind the title, hasn’t been the best about communication when it comes to actual progress towards release, they are a year late at this point, and  they are out there hawking early access at retail.  I realize early access is basically a retail pre-order, but it still makes me think, “Dude, remember me? I gave you money nearly two years ago?”  Just the nature of Kickstarter projects I guess.

And then there was the contest.

In order to spice things up… and get people to spend more money… Valve put everybody on teams and set us against each other for the possibility of getting something for nothing… assuming you didn’t buy anything for this gimmick.  Clockwork over at Out of Beta covers the whole thing better than I, I just want to grouse about the level of exclusion.

Summer Adventure Gimmick

Summer Adventure Gimmick

Anybody who wanted to participate got dropped onto one of the five color teams.  However, to actually do anything to help your team, you had to be level 10, at least as far as I could tell.  So despite years of Steam usage and owning over 100 games, I wasn’t able to play because I was only level 7.

Level as of July 1, 2014

Level as of July 1, 2014

While that was up from where I stood last year, it still wasn’t enough.

The problem is… well one of the problems I suppose… is that I purchased most of my library before they got into the whole levels thing.  And one of the prime ways you earn points to level up is based on how much money you spend, so most of my purchases didn’t count.  The other problem is that I am not inclined to spend money just to level myself up on Steam.  But that probably excluded me from the Summer Adventure thing anyway, as Clockwork pegs the whole thing as a pay to win affair.

And, on the annoying front, one of the ways I could have earned a few badges and points was by voting on the content of upcoming sales.  Only you must be level 8 to earn anything by voting, so once again Steam failed to engage me by imposing what looks to be an arbitrary level limit on rewards.  Bleh.

So, the score for the event.

  • Purchases at the lowest possible price as Steam has trained us: 1
  • Impulse purchases: 2
  • Engagement in sale related events: 0
  • Games on Steam I haven’t even played yet: too many

Maybe I will be the “right” level for whatever event Steam has planned by the time the Holiday Sale comes around.