Steam, or the impulse buyer's greatest dream/worst nightmare.

Hi Escapist, how are you doing? Is your chair comfy enough? How about a coffee, you look like you need one.

Now, I've mentioned this in passing before but it's worth repeating: I'm fairly new to PC gaming. At least, I'm fairly new to current gen PC gaming. It seems like these days, it's possible to be a PC gamer without using Steam in some capacity. It's a marvelous little invention, isn't it? A vast catalogue of games, merely a broadband connection and an hour or two away at the simple click of a mouse.

And, of course, perhaps it's best feature - the sale.

Ever since it's release, I've been intrigued by Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I love RPGs, I love Sci-Fi and I will accept I do quite enjoy cyberpunk. But I never really desired Deus Ex. I tried to play the original, and must admit I am too shallow to get past the awful, awful graphics. I played... Um, no I can't have because it didn't exist. Whatever that memory is, it isn't very good. I have also noticed that, since not at all long after release, DE:HR has not been a considerable investment. It got down to under 30 for the 'limited edition' on Xbox in what felt like weeks. But even then, as a 360 player, it was simply too much money. Other games happened, and on numerous shopping trips, I found myself clutching the bright green case, wondering if I was bored enough to finally give it a try. I looked at preowned copies, and said no. The price dropped to an inconsequential 15, and still I passed on it.

Today, after dropping out of a quick Skyrim sesh(by the by, God bless the superior PC version and the legion of talented modders), Steam yelled at me that Deus Ex was in the midweek sale. It's price: 3.47.

Three. Forty. Seven.

Without hesitating, I clicked buy. Earlier today, I spent 1.90 on a bottle of Fanta and a large packet of maltesers pretty much solely because a stroll had taken me into a shop. For only a little more money, I now own an hours-long RPG that I've been thinking about playing for a long time.

I should be really pleased, right? A game I wanted to play but could never justify spending cash on is now mine. But I did it without thinking. I did it because, even though I'm recently unemployed, such a small amount of money means nothing to me. I did it because it's so easy to click a button and instantly have digital 'money' leave my possession in exchange for a digital piece of entertainment.

So, the crux of the matter. Steam. Is it, along with its sales, a blessing or a curse? Is it a fantastic way to get games cheaply, or is it the precipice of a swift plunge into consumerist, impulsive nihilism where nothing has value and all it takes to sucker you into a purchase is a salesman assuring you you're getting a great deal (but only if you act NOW, damnit)?

I honestly don't know. All I do know is that I could start this game up tomorrow (it's getting late here in Blighty), absolutely hate it and not give the tiniest shit because I've spent more money on disappointing food than I have on this.

EDIT: Oh, right. Discussion value. Okay then, what's your take on digital distribution, and for Steam users, what's the best deal you've ever got on a game?

I'd say I have a common opinion on DD. Good for those who have reliable internet connections, hope it doesn't become the only source in the future, hope Steam gets some serious competition to prevent the monopoly they essentially have, and I really like it. My best bang for buck deal was easily Company of Heroes. Bought it during the Steam Sale (with an expansion) and I have dumped so much of my time into it. Not bad for $20. Best deal was probably buying Fear and expansions for $2 for my brother, he didn't like it, but that's a bit more expensive than a 20 oz coke for a several hour game.

I'd say the THQ bundle was the best deal I've ever gotten on some games. Still the sales are more a curse than a blessing I think. I've got a backlog so large that I can't even be slightly fucked trying to make a dent in it.

UrinalDook:
So, the crux of the matter. Steam. Is it, along with its sales, a blessing or a curse? Is it a fantastic way to get games cheaply, or is it the precipice of a swift plunge into consumerist, impulsive nihilism where nothing has value and all it takes to sucker you into a purchase is a salesman assuring you you're getting a great deal (but only if you act NOW, damnit)?

Er... it's the good ones! With those sales you can get a dozen games for the price of ONE new game, and you're bound to like some of them so you're pretty much guaranteed to be quids in.

The thing about Steam sales is, once you've had an account for a few years, you'll own everything on the service you actually want, barring recent releases. Or at least you will if you pay attention to the frequent sales. Up until last weekend, I hadn't actually bought anything on Steam since the Summer, because I had pretty much everything I wanted to buy, even at the ridiculous sale prices (which weren't so ridculous this Christmas, but since there wasn't much I wanted to buy anyway, it didn't really matter.) As for the game I bought last weekend, it was FTL for $5. And now that I have it, I'm right back to owning every game I actually want on the service.

Point being, the sales can seem a bit overwhelming at first, but only until you've been through a few years worth of them. Once you have, you'll rapidly hit a point where there isn't much left on the service that A.) you want, B.) that actually goes on sale from time to time (a lot of stuff doesn't, or if it does doesn't go down into impulse buy territory), and C.)you don't already have. Especially if you take advantage of indie bundles for your indie game needs. I've got an extensive collection of indie games, and FTL and Terrarria are the only two that didn't come from a bundle. Funny thing is (no hipster) I spend more time with my indie games than I do my AAA titles.

Edit: To give an idea of the kind of account we're talking about, I just ran it through a couple of different Steam calculators. They're showing a little over 100 games, coming to a total of eight or nine hundred bucks in value (which I think was higher the last time I checked -- there must have been a price drop on some of them in the mean time.) How much have I actually spent? A couple hundred, at most. Over three years. From what I gather around here, a lot of gamers spend that much in three or four months.

My best piece of advice for sale junkies new to steam is to make use of the wishlist. Make a list of things you actually want ahead of time, and then only get things that are on that list. Also that Deus Ex deal is hilariously good, don't feel bad about it at all.

curse thanks to bundle sales i have a list of 60+ games ive never touched.

glad to see someone else how loves the cyberpunk genre :D

I don't particularly like Steam overall, but the sales pretty much invariably test my willpower to breaking point. Probably my best Steam deal was Mass Effect 2 for about 4.50, not because of the game's length relative to its cost (although it did take me 30 hours) but because it's an absolutely outstanding game, and for that cheap I can't possibly complain.

Still, Steam does occasionally make me buy things I didn't go there meaning to because of the cheapness, like the Witcher and KotOR for 1.70 each. So in terms of the length to price ratio, the Witcher definitely wins. Just a pity I didn't enjoy it that much.

Well sales are always good but steam sales are not always better than anywhere else it still pays to look around personally I dont like steam so have zero problem resisting its sales also I tend to be very conservative on what games I buy these days and does it look interesting and is it at a good price are not enough to get me to buy anymore as I know I probably wont play it and thats just wasted money even if it was cheap.

If I really really really want a game I will buy it on release this dosent happen often if I just want to play it a lot I will wait until it goes cheap and then pick it up but I refuse to use steam anymore I was just really annoyed at the service they provided last time, I think I still have an account technically but god knows what the name and password are I am happy to pay a bit more if I dont have to deal with steam again.

Steam's a nightmare. Last year I ended up having more money than I was used to and Steam beckoned like some Siren in the mist. Before I knew it I had a backlog so big that I realized there was no way in hell I'd be able to beat it. It can be pretty bad to resist the sales, especially if you're new to Steam, since it's so easy and convenient to get the games at a relatively cheap price, but my best advice would be to use the Wishlist and realize that as good as a sale may be, it'll probably get better later on, especially during the summer and winter sales where some games just get annihilated price-wise.

And the best deal I ever got was Civ V and the Expansion for like $10. Considering I've already dropped well over 100 hours into it, I'd say it was money well spent. Same with Mount & Blade: Warband which I picked up for like $5. 200 hours of multiplayer for the price of a fuckin' Big Mac is a good deal in my book.

Steam is good as a content provider even if I find its other services teeth-grindingly irritating do to my slower internet speed.

It saddens me when I found Origin more likable for actually being able to launch games while online and shutting down without being forcibly terminated.

Steam does not always have the best deals for Steam-Activated games. Remember that.

Between Steam and GOG, I'm being sucked dry 5-20$ at a time.

Best deals I've gotten so far were the THQ bundle for 25$ (That's SR2-3, Darksiders 1-2, Company of Heroes + Opposing Fronts, Dawn of War II + expansions, Space Marine, Titan's Quest 2 + expansion, Homefront(meh), ATV vs Motocross (or something, don't really care))... I almost feel bad they went out of business.

Other than that, there was Orcs Must Die for 2$ since I got it with the sequel, in-fact the DLC cost more than the actualy game.

On GOG they did a 5 for 10$, so that was Uplink (sweet), Darwinia (overhyped), The Ball and Trine (didn't get the chance), and Gemini Rue (neat).

Yeah Steam is well known for pillaging wallets and purses everywhere... it sucks but its also awesome, quite a quandary.

Oh and FYI OP, if the graphics of the original Deus Ex bother you then there is quite a few mods out there that bring them up to a more modern standard, its not Cry engine good but none the less it makes a hell of a improvement.

You seem to have given this purchase a lot of thought, so it's not entirely in the hands of the salesman. As long as you're not buying a game simply because it's on sale you should be golden.

The only thing Steam has done to me is make me completely unable to pay full price for a game. I can't do it. Knowing that in less than 6 months an opportunity will arrive for me to get what I want for half price or less means I can no longer justify paying 50 - 60 euro on a new release. I'm frankly astonished at the amount of people that still buy games on day 1 when a sale in a matter of months will see the game significantly discounted.

It wasn't until I created a folder on my steam games tab called "Unfinished" and found that it was twice the size of my favorites list that I realized Steam sales might be a bit dangerous.

Welcome to the club. In future you will buy games that you won't ever play. But sometimes you discover some jewels this way so I'm not trying to control these random purchases.

I have a bit of a problem myself in that I apparently have 363 games in my steam library and another 176 on gog and cannot possibly play them all. I figured out that the problem stems from that I used to live in poverty and had alot of trouble getting a job and could not get anything let alone what I wanted. Now that I have no problems affording them I have turned into a giant impulse buyer. But at least it's not like the ps3 and 360, I don't have to worry about backwards compatibility. I WILL play them at some point but yeah I've cut off buying anything console / pc game related. Meh, not really. I'll buy whatevers cheap and catches my eye. Who am I kidding?!

During summer and winter sales, Steam becomes Bane to my wallet's Batman.

Otherwise, they're lucky to get a Skyrim DLC purchase from me.

Jayemsal:
During summer and winter sales, Steam becomes Bane to my wallet's Batman.

Otherwise, they're lucky to get a Skyrim DLC purchase from me.

same here, haven't bought a damn thing that wasn't on super sale, and i look at most DLC now a days and am disgusted with the prices.

off topic, what is up with your avatar being "uptown girl"?

if i remember that right, billy joel right?

gmaverick019:

Jayemsal:
During summer and winter sales, Steam becomes Bane to my wallet's Batman.

Otherwise, they're lucky to get a Skyrim DLC purchase from me.

same here, haven't bought a damn thing that wasn't on super sale, and i look at most DLC now a days and am disgusted with the prices.

off topic, what is up with your avatar being "uptown girl"?

if i remember that right, billy joel right?

Its a .gif I made of the shot of them singing into their tools, it seemed silly to me.

It doesnt function properly on this site for some reason.

image

Oh Billy Joel, you so silly.

Woiminkle:
The only thing Steam has done to me is make me completely unable to pay full price for a game. I can't do it. Knowing that in less than 6 months an opportunity will arrive for me to get what I want for half price or less means I can no longer justify paying 50 - 60 euro on a new release. I'm frankly astonished at the amount of people that still buy games on day 1 when a sale in a matter of months will see the game significantly discounted.

I concur. At this point the only genre of games that are day 1 buys for me are fighting games because if one waits for the price to drop then one gives up too much of a competitive advantage to ones peers.

Kururu999:
My best piece of advice for sale junkies new to steam is to make use of the wishlist. Make a list of things you actually want ahead of time, and then only get things that are on that list. Also that Deus Ex deal is hilariously good, don't feel bad about it at all.

This is extremely good advice, and now steam will actually email you if one of the games on your wishlist goes on sale.

Jayemsal:

gmaverick019:

Jayemsal:
During summer and winter sales, Steam becomes Bane to my wallet's Batman.

Otherwise, they're lucky to get a Skyrim DLC purchase from me.

same here, haven't bought a damn thing that wasn't on super sale, and i look at most DLC now a days and am disgusted with the prices.

off topic, what is up with your avatar being "uptown girl"?

if i remember that right, billy joel right?

Its a .gif I made of the shot of them singing into their tools, it seemed silly to me.

It doesnt function properly on this site for some reason.

image

Oh Billy Joel, you so silly.

Hah yeah thought that's what it was. Sadly, the only reason I know that is from "uptown Marv" on YTMND (if you don't know the site, then my apologies for introducing you to a massive procrastination site)

The way I see it, the $3-$5 isn't too much money to throw at a developer, indie or Triple A, just as a reward for completing a game that is competently designed well enough to be on Steam. I also prefer to have the games on hand for $3-$5 than to have the $3-$5 on hand. As such, Steam hasn't been a curse, but the library I've collected as a result of that mentality is.

I got the THQ Humble Bundle, knowing for a fact that my laptop, with its subpar graphics card, can't run any of them. I'm counting on actually having a good PC at some point. till then, the other Humble Bundles are serving me well, as well as sales, like when I got Bastion for about $3.

Steam sales are a curse. I will openly admit to being a Steam Sale addict, I have over a hundred games in my library. How many of those have I actually played? Probably no more than 20.

Luckily (in some respects) my laptop is currently inaccessible and I am struggling financial which means I have stopped spending and will be playing rather than buying any more games.

Theres plenty on Steam that I want to buy, but can't bring myself to buy it. Little bits add up, and theres rent and bills to pay. The curse of growing up really.

I still prefer boxed copies to DD, the install times are a lot better. Case in point, I bought Far Cry 3 off steam and it took 13 painful god awful hours to download and install. My friend got the physical copy and installed it within 20 minutes. I'm not arsed about "ease of access" or "convienience" with not having to go out and all that, at least when I'm out I can pick up a copy of a game and then head for a couple of pints afterwards.

gmaverick019:

Jayemsal:

gmaverick019:

same here, haven't bought a damn thing that wasn't on super sale, and i look at most DLC now a days and am disgusted with the prices.

off topic, what is up with your avatar being "uptown girl"?

if i remember that right, billy joel right?

Its a .gif I made of the shot of them singing into their tools, it seemed silly to me.

It doesnt function properly on this site for some reason.

image

Oh Billy Joel, you so silly.

Hah yeah thought that's what it was. Sadly, the only reason I know that is from "uptown Marv" on YTMND (if you don't know the site, then my apologies for introducing you to a massive procrastination site)

I...I had a paper to write today!

You monster.

Best deal? Probably STALKER Shadow of Chernobyl for $2 (pretty sure it was $2, it was years ago). For how awesome it was and how much I played it, definitely worth it.

OMIGAWD WHY DID YOU DO THIS TO ME?! Deus Ex whole collection is under $12. That is AWESOME! I wanted to play it and that's cheaper than used copies of just HR in my area. I may have to jump on this and I really wanted to buy Deus Ex too after Yhatzee's review.

And not to mention The fall out collection being six bucks and Amnesia being five. I love steam...

 

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