Steam 2011 holiday sale rewards one gamer with entire catalog

The annual Steam holiday sale kicked off today promising the usual array of specials, game packs, daily deals. The big news, though, is the two-part contest running as part of the sale. When the sale concludes on January 1, one lucky shopper is going to walk away with every single game on Steam. The promotion has kicked Steam's usually rock-solid offline right after the announcement, presumably a result of those eager to get their chances for the grand prize.

Here's how it works. To get a chance at seeing your name announced as the big winner come January 2, you need to play the daily "Great Gift Pile" challenges to accumulate coal. Yep, that stuff for the bad boys and girls could be your ticket to PC gaming nirvana. Each day of the sale, six new challenges will be available. For every one you complete you receive either a "winning" gift of a full game or coupon or the consolation prize of a lump of coal.

That coal is valuable, though. Each lump counts as an entry for the grand prize. So the more you accumulate, the better your shot at it. But, for those looking for a little more sure-thing, seven lumps of coal can be crafted together for a pick from the Great Gift Pile, with the promise of not getting a lump of coal in return. And, for the truly enterprising, both the coal and gifts can be traded on Steam, opening up a whole other avenue of wheeling and dealing.

It's all about the risk-reward equation. Do you want one shot at the epic prize or a deal you know you'll get? Oh, and just to make things a little extra interesting, though most of the coupons are for after the sale, a few special "Golden" coupons will be in there that can be used during the holiday sale to get a bonus savings.