Tag Archives: Steam

Steam Winter Sale 2016 Results

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

dirt3completeedition

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

atarivault

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

trainvalley

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.

Simple track layout

Simple track layout

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

prisonarch

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

stardewvalley

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.

The Steam Winter Sale 2016 Begins

The annual Steam Winter/Holiday sale is here again and, true to form, the usual bits of comedy were present as it kicked off at 10am yesterday.  Past years have seem sim-applied discounts yield negative prices on the opening day.  This year Steam thought they would try something different.

Ten dollars is how much again?

Ten dollars is how much again?

Even if I searched for games under five dollars, Steam seemed unwilling to go that low.

Look, go find more money and buy some of this...

Look, go find more money and buy some of this…

This years shtick is a set of game award for various categories.  Earlier in the year Steam asked for nominations, now we get to vote on the top five to choose the winner.  Or, you can try and vote.  It didn’t seem to want to register mine.

Russian Hax I Bet!!!

Russian Hax I Bet!!!

But I still got my Steam Holiday trading card for trying to vote, and that was the important bit, right?  I collect the cards.  I am not sure why, but I do, so I also went through to recommendation queues in order to get two more cards.

Then it was time to get down to what a big Steam sale really means to me.  We have grown so used to them that the idea of deep discounts really doesn’t trigger any sort of binge buying need within me.  Instead, it has become a test for my Steam wish list.  I put things on the wish list that I think I might want to get some day… but not today… with the assumption that if they get marked down, that will make the decision for me.

When we get to the big sale and I see some of those titles marked down as much as 75%… and if I still don’t buy them then, I have to figure they don’t really belong on my wish list.  So I am staring at Doom, which has been marked down to under $20 and wondering if I really want it.

On the flip side of that there are items on my wish list I know I will buy, but only when they get a serious discount.  10% off Civilization VI just isn’t going to get me there.

Ten percent off?

Ten percent off?

I am playing other games right now, I don’t NEED to devote hours and hours to a new Civ title just yet.  Also, I remember the last real Civ title I bought going 25% off in a Steam sale just two weeks after I bought it at full price.  I demand a better discount!

Also, I am not sure Steam needed to send me an individual email notification for a bunch of items on my with list to say they were on sale.  A single “Steam Winter Sale Time!” email would have been good enough.

Then again, those email messages might stand me in good stead, seeing that I cannot even log into Steam this morning.  The independent Steam Services Status page shows the whole thing to be down right now, so there is no getting online right now.  Offline mode is all I can do, and you don’t get any Steam Sale items that way.

Yeah, the internet is not the problem here

Yeah, the internet is not the problem here

I will have to check in again later… have to get those trading cards.  And I am still pondering a couple of items on my wish list.  I may yet buy something this season.

Addendum: The Steam Sevices Status page has a new graphic up for the situation:

Steam Winter Sale 2017

Steam Winter Sale 2017

EVE Online Free on Steam this Weekend

In order to celebrate EVE Online’s 13th birthday tomorrow and its becoming an unruly teenager… like it hasn’t been behaving that way all this time already… you will be able to download and play the game for free on Steam.

A 1pm cut off on Sunday seems a bit chintzy...

A 1pm cut off on Sunday seems a bit chintzy…

That means, if you start today… and the whole things starts today… at some point… maybe 1pm Pacific time… you could potentially get in as much as three days in New Eden to experience the furtive, achievement based tutorial, learn about skill queues and how long it will take to fly a battleship, see all the scams in Jita, and at least experience how cool the sensation of flying in space can be.

I think starting as Gallente gets you the prettiest nebulae.

Gallente rookie ship zipping about...

Gallente rookie ship zipping about…

Of course, if you REALLY wanted to try out the game… and maybe not have your account totally locked into Steam for no real good reason… you could always just go to the EVE Online web site and get a 14 Day free trial.

Or, if you were feeling especially interested and a bit generous, you could get a 21 Day free trial by clicking on my buddy link.  Exactly one person has done that in the last three years, though I admit I don’t flash it around either, keeping it hidden on the side bar of my other blog.

Okay, the three day Steam offer does say “no restrictions,” while the trial offer has some walls around it, there being some skills and such that you cannot train on trial accounts.  But you’re not going to have the ISK or a reason to train those skills in just three days, now are you?

Anyway, my cynicism aside, happy birthday to EVE Online.  Come fly around in space for a bit.  Goons won’t scam you, I promise.  You won’t have enough ISK to be worth the effort.

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?

Steam Holiday Sale – Even Valve Seems a Bit Bored

The Steam Holiday Sale went live on Tuesday with the usual sudden surge of excitement and the occasional error.

Best Deal Evah!

Best Deal Evah!

There were a few items discounted into negative territory.  The best I saw was Quake, which Steam was apparently prepared to pay you $9.85 if you would download it.

To borrow another Tweet, Van Hemlock had a good summary.

But once that settled down and prices got adjusted and discount math was correctly calculated, the sales event seemed to be happily under way.  Nearly everything on my wishlist is on sale, and I am once again tempted by Cities: Skylines and Project CARS.

Of course, all of those other unplayed, or underplayed, games in my Steam library are giving me baleful stares.  Their mere presence inhibits my ability to buy anything new.  And when combined with the knowledge that there will just be another Steam sale later if I don’t buy anything this time around, any sense of urgency is lost.  That one time emotional response of, “I’d better buy this now, I might want to play it some day!” has been replaced by the feeling that unless I want to play the game RIGHT NOW, I can wait until a later date.

So yeah, another “tired gamer in a malaise” story here at TAGN.

The odd bit is that even Valve seems a bit less into the whole Steam Sale too.

Gone are the events.  You get holiday Steam cards for just browsing games.  The daily deals and flash sales, ever the bane of the OCD in people obsessed with getting the best deal, are gone.  There is no need to keep checking back every few hours.  The price cut on the title you are interested in is going to be the same throughout the Holiday Sale.  That old flow chart about when to buy is history. (So many versions of it out there.)

So no rush.  You can sit an consider your purchase or make lists of games people should buy or otherwise reflect on the sale in peace, without anybody nudging you to get on with it because it all might be different in an hour or three.

All of which is something of a relief.  A new normal has emerged.  And though I kind of miss the special nature that a Steam sale used to have, you cannot recreate that forever.

How to get Your Steam Left Hours Down

Steam Left is the web site that calculates how many hours of play time you have left before you can claim you have “finished” the games in your Steam library.  You can find the site here.

Back during the Steam Summer Sale I was looking at how many hours I had left.  It was a good year’s worth of work, playing 40 hour weeks, using the standard “2,000 working hours in a year” rule of thumb I learned ages ago.

74 days would get me through the summer...

Your Steam library… it isn’t a job, it’s an adventure!

I knocked off a couple hours myself this summer, but I found a way to bring that number down some more.  My daughter was complaining of summer boredom so I installed Steam on her computer and logged my account in and told her to play whatever she wanted.  She has an iMac, so she couldn’t play everything on the list, but there are (to me) a surprising number of titles supported both Windows and Mac OS.

So for about a week she went through and played Sim City 4 and Tropico 4 (which was a real bargain when I grabbed it) and a few other titles.  All in all she ended up playing about a dozen hours worth of Steam games before she moved on to other things.

So, with 1,767 hours left on the estimate, I still have about a year of full time work to go on my library, but at least a few hours were knocked off.

I’d Buy That for a Dollar… or Less?

This past week I had logged into Steam. I don’t let it log in automatically when I start up my computer.  Some part of me always wants to limit the number of processes running on my computer at any given time.

Anyway, I haven’t been logging in recently because I haven’t been playing any games that I purchased on Steam.  War Thunder was the last thing on Steam I was playing regularly.  And, of course, we are in the great gulf between the Steam Summer Sale and the Steam Holiday Sale,

Still, that doesn’t mean there are not sales.  I got a note that something on my wishlist was on sale, an item I couldn’t really recall the details of, so I logged in to Steam to window shop. As I logged in… and several games started to update… I ran over the front page to see what else might be on sale.  There was a mention on one part of the page that over 100 games were currently on sale, so I clicked on that to get the full list.

You can sort the list by various criteria and I decided to go with price, lowest to highest, to see just how cheap things can be on Steam.

As it turns out, things can be very cheap.

Steam - Under a Dollar

Steam – Under a Dollar

That is a list of fifteen items UNDER a dollar on Steam, with the lowest checking in at a mere fourteen cents.  More than half of that list is under fifty cents.

This makes me feel dizzy as my brain wonders at what point is something simply priced too cheaply.  At what point does it start to cost more simply to run the credit card transaction.  How much of that fourteen cents does a developer even see.

Apple’s iTunes App Store has a lower limit of 99 cents if you want to charge for an app.  Free is the only cheaper option.

Is there any reason to price something on Steam for less than 99 cents?  I mean sure, fourteen cents gets you a spot at the top of the list, but is that price an enticement or a warning?

And, in answer to the title, I did not buy any of these games.  There is probably a message in that as well.