Steam Summer Sale: A brief survival guide

The Steam Summer Sale is officially underway. And like any other sale, the temptation is almost always to grab anything and everything off the shelf without thinking twice.

Of course, this is often the road to video game ruin. Steam sale veterans should know how the whole routine works by now, which is why Shacknews can offer this brief overview on how to get the most out of your Steam Summer Sale experience.

Wait for daily and flash sales

This suggestion comes from Chatty's zolointo. Prices that get slashed during the Steam Summer Sale will often stay at that price for the duration of the sale. However, there's always a chance that it could get offered as part of a daily deal or a flash sale later down the line.

Yes, the temptation is to scoop up whatever's available. But buying that copy of XCOM for 50% off could leave you feeling sheepish if it comes down by 75% during the next day's daily deal.

With that said...

Don't be disappointed if your flash sale choice loses

This happened frequently last year with Community Choice voting. A popular (albeit underrated) game would get dangled like a carrot, only for a more popular game to swoop in and take the flash sale win.

Do not let this discourage you. There were frequently instances in which games would lose out on flash sale voting, only to pop up days later as a daily deal. And while the daily deal rate wasn't quite as good as that flash sale price, it was still significantly lower than it was previously. For example, the Steam Winter Sale was a great source of frustration when I couldn't get The Stanley Parable knocked down to $7.49, but it quickly wound up on the daily deal list with a comparable price just days later.

Flash sales are a nice icing on the cake, but if your choice loses, remember that it isn't the end of the world.

If you don't want it, don't buy it

This seems like an obvious statement, but you'd be surprised how often folks are placed in the position of entering the Steam Summer Sale with a large backlog already in place. That's where a little perspective is needed.

PC games go on sale every week, often times for well over half-off their original price. So it's easy to build up a backlog of dozens of games that are collecting digital dust. The best advice is to go play those games. Tune out the Summer Sale noise and catch up with the games you already have. Further adding to an already-bloated backlog will lead to unneeded stress. If you already feel guilty about having eight games you still need to get to, imagine how much that guilt gets compounded by adding another dozen titles to that pile.

There is no law that says you must take advantage of the Steam Summer Sale. Engage in the fun meta-game of voting for flash deals and grabbing trading cards. But if none of the games on sale are essential, catch up with the games you already have. Besides, those games just might go on sale again after the Summer Sale is over.

Compare prices to previous sales

It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of low prices, simply because they're "Steam Summer Sale" prices. Because of that, it's easy to overlook that certain games may be offered at rates that are comparable to previous sales.

For example, the current batch of Community Choice voting could see Torchlight II get knocked down to $5 or South Park: The Stick of Truth get docked by 33%. However, those games have already been discounted at those prices previously. If you held out this long without getting those games, it's safe to hold off a little while longer, unless you can't possibly hold off anymore.

In other words, just because it's a Steam Summer Sale game, doesn't mean it's the absolute cheapest price available. In fact, that leads to this last tip.

It's ok to shop around

Competition has never been fiercer in the online marketplace. And believe it or not, Steam is not the end-all, be-all of digital shops.

Other marketplaces in recent years have strategically been set up to specifically counter Steam Summer Sale offers. For example, if you don't see that EA game you're looking for on Steam, chances are you'll be able to find it discounted with another retailer like Green Man Gaming or GameFly Digital.

Speaking of the latter two sites, it's always important to remember that they both frequently offer coupon codes that can be used on nearly any title. If there's a coupon code in place, be sure to double-check it with your Steam Summer Sale game of choice. Sometimes, the coupon will actually knock that price lower than the Steam rate. For instance, think that Dead Rising 3 pre-order for 25% off looks pretty sweet? Green Man Gaming will likely have a 25% off code on its way in the coming days to help match that price. And since most major digital retailers have shifted to offering Steam keys, shopping around with coupons could lead to net savings in the end.

While Steam is still the premiere marketplace for many PC gamers, it's still best to keep your options open. Storefronts like Amazon and Humble will not sit idly by and watch their sales get eaten up, so keep an eye for any unexpected deals across other retailers.


Many visitors of this website, especially those in Chatty, are more than familiar with Steam Summer Sales. If anyone wants to add tips on how to get through the next two weeks with your wallet somewhat intact, be sure and add them to the comments below.