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Steam sales: How deep discounts  really  affect your games
Steam sales: How deep discounts really affect your games Exclusive
July 25, 2012 | By Tom Curtis




Valve's Steam sales have always proven a great time for consumers to score some cheap PC games, but over the past several months, there's been some debate over whether these promotions are good for game developers. Some have argued that the major discounts devalue games, and end up hurting the industry in the long run.

But according to a number of developers that took part in this year's Steam Summer Sale, that doesn't seem to be the case. The teams who've discounted their games during this or previous Steam sales have found that the promotions not only attract more sales, but also generate more revenue and breathe new life into aging products.

Runic Games CEO Max Schaefer, for instance, tells us that while it's been almost three years since his studio launched Torchlight, Valve's Steam promotions have helped the game maintain healthy sales to this very day.

"We find that we get several thousand percent increases in units and revenue on the days of the Steam sales, and unit sales are usually about double the normal for a few weeks after the sales are over," he says.

This year's Summer Sale (which ended July 22) was particularly noteworthy for Runic, as it helped Torchlight hit its second biggest day ever in terms of overall unit sales -- not bad for a game that came out in October 2009.

And Runic's case doesn't seem to be an anomaly; Supergiant Games' Amir Rao tells us that these Steam sales have proven more lucrative than his game's initial debut.

"A lot of times we judge the success of a game -- and predict its sales -- by looking at its launch day numbers. Steam sales have made that delightfully impossible. Our launch day [for Bastion], which we viewed as very strong, is only our fifth best day of sales ever on Steam due to the power of the promotions we've had the opportunity to participate in," Rao says.

According to indie developer and Super Meat Boy co-creator Edmund McMillen, these promotions can increase sales to an almost staggering extent. His 2D dungeon crawler The Binding of Isaac, for example, saw sales multiply by five when it was marked down by 50 percent, and once it hit the front page as a temporary "Flash Deal" (for 75 percent off), sales multiplied by sixty.

Believe it or not, those figures aren't all that unusual. Valve's director of business development, Jason Holtman, says plenty of developers have seen their sales increase exponentially, giving them a very healthy boost in revenue.

"It's not uncommon for our partners to see [a] 10-20 times revenue increase on games they run as a 'Daily Deal.' Some titles really take off and see as much [as a] 70-80 times increase in revenue," Holtman said.

Is there a catch?

Despite the fact that Steam sales mark games down to just a small fraction of their usual price, the developers we spoke to don't think these promotions are devaluing games at all. Based on the data they've seen, Steam sales have only been a good thing for their business.

Sure, players will jump on the chance to buy a game for $2.50, but the developers have found that Steam consumers are still perfectly willing to pay full price for a game once the sales are over. The "race to the bottom" we've seen on the mobile markets just doesn't seem to be there on Valve's platform.

"While some may argue that [major sales] contribute to an industry-wide price deterioration problem -- where smartphone games have made people unwilling to spend more than $5 on a digital game -- [Steam sales] are a bit different," says Ken Berry, the executive VP of XSEED Games (Ys Origins, Ys: The Oath in Felghana).

"Rather than looking at it as a 'lost sale' when people wait for these Steam discounts, I think it needs to be viewed as reaching out to a new customer that never would have purchased your game otherwise."

Valve's Holtman says he's never noticed any negative consequences from these promotions. Instead, most games still see positive trends in their sales numbers well after the discounts are over. At the very worst, a game's sales will just revert back to what they were before the promotion began.

And of course, it's not only about generating more sales. Sometimes, you just want to make sure that people are playing your game in the first place, so they pay attention when you're building excitement for whatever comes next.

As Toxic Games' Daniel Da Rocha (Q.U.B.E.), puts it, "[When people] have the opportunity pick up a copy for next to nothing, this only grows the fan base around the game, so when we release new content or future games, we have a large community already there to market to."

For those still looking to reap the benefits of these sales, you're in luck, as Holtman says "there's no secret handshake a developer needs to know to get their title on the front page [during a sale]" – all you really need to do is put out a product that consumers want to play.


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Comments


Glenn Sturgeon
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The steam sales open up the point of discoverability for a title and its developer.
In an age when its basicly up to english majors who have a questionable amount of knowledge about how to review a game and even more so about game design, steam sales give buyers the chance to try a title out at a fair price vs risk ratio. How many times have you read a review which points out alot of things you find as major flaws then the end result equals a an 8.5 or 9.5 score or just the opposite, great ideals in design but bad scores without sufficient reason.
Steam sales also give newcomers a chance to jump into a title which has been around for awhile and pick up all the DLC in one package for a good price. A great example is Dawn of War there are several versions over the years which included all the content up till then but not necessarily up till the end of the titles updates and DLC.
Without the steam sales i'd have missed out on alot of the best titles i've played over the past few years.
With the economy being realy tuff (not everyone makes 30+K annually) the sales at steam and other digital outlets brings potential buyers access to titles they would have otherwise "had" to pass up.
Being iternational Steam brings that access to countries where very few make 20+K annually. Yes i'm saying spending even $5-12 on a title for many people globally is a big deal, but they want to have fun with games to!
If word of mouth about how cool or great your game is after a steam sale dosent boost your normal price sales at least a little, you may not have a realy cool or great game to sell. Maybe your just asking too much for it? Theres alot to learn in the weeks beyond a sale.

Carl Chavez
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In defense of English majors: some of us have reviewed, designed, and programmed games for decades. :-p

(Of course, if you're talking about English LITERATURE majors...)

Lee Fieber
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You've a lot of animosity towards English majors for someone that would benefit from a couple of courses.


Edit: Duly noted Todd--good thing I still have a couple of courses left.

Glenn Sturgeon
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@ lee.. Its not like i don't know that, but "Thanks" for mentioning it. It was surely a great contribution to the discussion and you should feel better now. oO

Todd Boyd
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@Lee: I think you mean, "a couple [of] courses." :p

Maria Jayne
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I think it's important to recognise, some consumers will never buy your game at the price you think it's worth. So a steam sale doesn't target people who think your game is worth full price, it targets people who had no intention of giving you any money at all....and now suddenly they are, and they may even buy your sequel too.

It creates customers where there were none.

Mathieu MarquisBolduc
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No kidding. I bought my first Paradox strategy title on a steam sale, a year later I was owning about half their catalog.

Vin St John
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This is more or less the concept behind ANY sale, not just "Steam Sales", and nobody arguing against sales is saying this isn't true. In the case of EVERY sale, two things can happen:
1) The consumer who wasn't going to buy before might decide to buy now,
2) The consumer who might have bought anyway learns that sometimes things go on sale

The argument isn't "which one of these is true", I think, so much as "which one of these has a bigger impact?"

Kevin Patterson
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Your spot on Maria.

I bought torchlight on a Steam sale for $5, then I bought it full price on the 360 when it released, and I plan on buying Torchlight 2 full price as well (What a deal for $20)
I buy many games this way, in that I take a chance on a big sale and then love the game enough to buy the next game from the developer for full price.

I spent about $40 to $50 on Steam over the week, buying old games that I already own on disk, or might have lost over the years. I love Steam for that, that I can pick up old games for cheap so I don't have to worry about the disks anymore.

I have barely bought anything on XBLA these days, MS sits on all these old arcade and GOD titles when they could have big steam like sales that might bring interest in those titles and it's DLC again. They had one GOD sale and it was pretty lame, MS needs to take note of Steam.

Luke S
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@Vin, actually there's a third option - with some minor impact - often seen in comments:
3) The consumer who bought the product a week/month before it went on sale is upset at their own impatience, bargain awareness, and in the case of software: the inability for digital purchases to have price protection on their credit card. ;)

Take me for example, I bought Blur on launch day for $60, only to have Activision offer a $20 coupon two weeks later. WHEN DOES THAT HAPPEN? @$%&. Loved the game though. RIP Bizarre.

Eric Geer
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Steam sales opens an opportunity for me to play games that I otherwise would have never played---hell, I even buy games that I will probably never play just because they are cheap as fu*k!

It's a win for developers/publishers and a Huge Loss for my wallet!

Neeraj Kumar
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It's ignorance to Criticize Steam sales, me and my friends have bought a number of games from steam, Sale after sale. I have made my friends leave piracy behind, saw few of my friends spending more hours on gaming than before, etc..

Adam Bishop
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One thing I think Steam sales do is bring in new audiences not just for individual games, but for core gaming in general. A $50-60 investment might be pretty standard for those of us who've been playing games for most of our lives, but for people who have some interest in games but aren't really sure how much enjoyment they're going to get out of it $60 is a huge investment. By giving them the opportunity to pay only $10-15 (the cost of a movie, CD, etc.) to play the same games all the gamers they know say are great you're giving games a brand new audience of people who might really like games but aren't willing to pay $60 at a time to find out. It's relatively easy for me to convince a non-gamer to pay $10 to try out Left 4 Dead with me. It's almost impossible to do that at $60.

Lars Doucet
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Pretty much in agreement, but just to be contrary I'll post this nuanced counterpoint from Carpe Fulgur, the guys who localized "Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale" about their experience with Steam Sales:

http://www.carpefulgur.com/drakblog/?p=9

Though, that *was* a while ago. Could Carpe Fulgur or Andrew Dice be reached for comment? I'd love to hear their take on this.

Joe Wreschnig
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I thought the main thrust of that post was how *bundles*, and not Steam sales, undervalue indie games. Re-skimming it now seems like that's the case: "Had we sold the game for $5 first and then bundled it into a pack, we’d have earned quite a bit more than we did."

It's one thing to offer your game for $5; it's another to offer it for $5 split five ways with other games, especially when you're the most popular game in the pack.

Mitchell Fujino
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He even says directly "We still made more money than we did during October, it’s worth pointing that out…" which directly supports the conclusions of this article.
(He just wishes he had a sale for $5 before immediately dropping to $1.)

Lars Doucet
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I agree with those conclusions, I'd just be interested in hearing from Andrew.

Andrew Dice
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The main point I was making in that post was that putting Recettear in the bundle as our *first ever* promotion was a mistake; we have Actual Data pointing to the fact that people were basically buying the bundle as "Recettear for $5", but we only saw one dollar out of each sale. It was basically like marking down the game 95% - there IS a limit to how far you should discount. :V

That really came about because neither we nor Steam quite expected Recettear to blow up the way it did - there's a reason Recettear's either flown solo in Steam sales afterwards or headlined a bundle of our own (as it did in this past sale). And in all the other Steam sales? We've made good. Real good. "Quite enough to pay salaries for everyone for a year" good. The article itself is still fundamentally right.

So the take-away from our experience is "make sure you get at least one solo discount period in first before you go into a bundle". You may have even noticed that with the bundles this time around - they were, by and large, older titles.

Lars Doucet
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There he is! Very useful information!

Robert Alvord
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There are also many people out there in this economy that will not pay full price for a game, or even $30. The market is flooded with some pretty aweful titles. Why pay $30 for a game that's not half as well-designed as another one? If, however, you sell it for what it's worth, you're more likely to make the sale.

That said, it still boils down to one thing. Is your game going to be viewed as a worthwhile purchase, after the fact? Even at $5, is the customer going to see it worth that amount far less than it's original price, or say, "Eh, well I just wasted $5 to know that I'll never buy that company's games again."

This model helps customers weed through the junkware to get to the good stuff, and not feel like they just left the auto sales lot with a lemon for a ton of money.

Scott Sheppard
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Honestly, I don't buy games much at all. I don't have the time to play them with work, school, and family commitments. And so, it doesn't really matter how much the game is, if it costs more than $0, then I have to know I'm going to play it before I buy it.

Sales make my purchasing easier, but certainly don't guarantee that purchase for me. I don't necessarily think that I'm paying for what the game is worth... but I am paying what I feel is worth for me.

Justin LeGrande
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With Steam sales as the spearhead, many people now only buy games during such sales. Is that OK?

Evan Combs
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It is tough to say without proper demographics and statistics. It could be that most of those people are the same people who would only buy used games or pirate games before.

Really though from everything I have heard these sales don't hurt game sales or profits at all, and only help older games that may have dropped out of the spotlight. The vast majority of people don't have the will or self-control to wait for a Steam sale. They are a small minority.

Kyle Redd
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Well, anyone included in that group probably buys a total of 0 games outside of the sales; it's likely they're not really PC gamers at all, just picking some games up because they're so cheap.

Adam Bishop
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I've bought two games at full price on PC in the past 3 years or so: Shogun 2: Total War because I wanted to use it to test out a new machine I'd built and Diablo 3 because I wanted to play it with friends who were buying it. Other than that I only buy PC games when they're on sale, and I buy a fair number of them (probably an average of 1 per month).

Nathan Champion
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"... many people now only buy games during such sales..."

Do we have the data to show whether or not this is a fact? There are more than a few games on Steam's top-sellers list that aren't listed as being on sale. Now whether or not these games ' prices have been cut, I don't know.

Tyler Martin
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I know as I've gotten older the amount of time and money I have to invest in playing games has diminished substantially. I used to buy all of my games brand new at launch. Now it's a mix of the games I don't want to wait for brand new at launch, and others either used or on sale.

I still bought titles like Portal 2 and Starcraft 2 brand new on day one because I didn't want to wait to play them. If I waited long enough though, I'd have had Portal 2 for next to nothing (or possibly even for nothing someday knowing how Valve likes to give things away). But if it weren't for Steam sales and used sales, games like those are all I would play. At least with the deep discounts Steam sales provide, developers still get money and I get to play more games than I would otherwise. I'd say that's win-win, and unless someone can show me a study proving otherwise, I doubt more people wait for sales when they feel a game is worth $60 just because they want to save some money. The majority waiting for sales were likely price conscious consumers to begin with.

Michael Rooney
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Well when you consider a lot of people wouldn't buy those games at all without such sales, it seems like it should at least balance out. I wouldn't have bought civ 5 without it going on sale, probably wouldn't have bought the double fine bundle without it (probably would have bought stacking anyway at some point), wouldn't have bought Atom Zombie Smasher or Bastion without the sales.

It's not because these games don't deserve full price, but I just know I don't have the time to get full price worth out of the game, so I wouldn't spend money on it.

Jeff Cary
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I won't lie, I went kind of nuts on this Steam sale. I won't go into exact numbers, but it was borderline absurdity. I don't typically buy a PC game unless it something I really want. Granted, I will not play most of these games I bought anytime soon, but I have checked out a few, and they have already gave me a great first impression.

For instance, I disregarded Saints Row the Third because I just don't dig the GTA and its clones. I am very happy that I changed my mind on that. The first 30 minutes of Saints Row the Third was just absurd as my current Steam Library and fun as hell. Without this Steam sale I would have never considered playing it. But now I am excited to see where else this game goes for better or worse.

Do I feel like I got the better end of the deal with the Steam Sale? Of course, and that is great, but it is also great that the developer/publisher is seeing many positives out of it as well. It just means I'll have another 20+ games to possibly discover next year.

Ed Macauley
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I'm with Nathan, "Do we have the data to show whether or not this is a fact?" Personal experience does not equal evidence.

In my own personal experience, I buy full price and sale games. On the sale games, it's usually something I wouldn't have normally purchased.

John Flush
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I think of it as priming the pump for the next game. There are a lot of games I want to try, but might not have the time. At 75%-90% drop I'm willing to pay to play simply to try it out. If I like the game I start looking into the other titles coming from the developer which I'm more likely to pay full price with.

Borderlands is one such example. I wasn't even going to play it because I didn't like the art (from the still shots), heard a lot of negativity against it for early adopters (online was pretty bad I hear), and was worried about the 'M' content in it. Yet I bought it on sale. I now have Borderlands 2 pre-ordered.

During other sales I even buy the game to gift to people I think will be interested in it - or even tell them to get it on the sales so they can see what I saw.

Once your game has been adopted by those that wanted to play it out the gate - given a bit of time - I feel it is very much worth it to expand your market for the next release - unless you game sucks, then you do just might do the opposite with it. But for the most part I feel these sort of things expand the market rather than reduce it.

William Johnson
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"Never pay more than 20 bucks for a computer game." —Guybrush Threepwood

Tiago Costa
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@Justin

That is just not true, even the developpers say that in the article.
You may wait to buy all games in these sales, but generally most people buy them outside of those deals (at normal rate or another deal).
In these sales what you can do is to buy some games at a lower risk of spending your money badly. Its a time for experimentation.

@Nathan

You have your "facts" every time there was a big promotion in a set of games, the top sellers list would change to those games, especially the flash game sales.

+Exposure => +sales, the bigger the exposure, the bigger the sales numbers because your probability of reaching someone who will like the game will be bigger.

Jonathan Lowden
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I buy a lot of games (much to my wifes dismay)... but I'm very picky with my purchases and will mostly only buy games on-sale or if it is part of a series I love. Living in Australia seems that we can be screwed over for pricing of games. Just a couple of examples,

CoD: Modern Warfare 3, price for Aussies is $100 USD... yet if I had a US account, the price would be $60 USD. Fair? I think not.
Spec Ops: The Line, price for Aussies is $75 USD... again the US price? $50 USD.

Now, I understand that we used to have huge discrepancies due to shipping, and we have GST on our prices (10% for those who don't know). But in this digital age where all the games I purchase are digital downloads, how can a 66% markup be seen as proper?

The sales that Steam have help to alleviate this huge discrepancy... yet I still pay more during a sale than someone in the US. Having a US address and purchasing digital games from Amazon seems like the way to go.

J Z
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For me its risk vs reward without doubt. There are way too many games out there that I hear about being good from my friends, but when presented with a full price option to buy the game, I feel I don't have enough reason to buy the game. But when presented with a VERY low sale price, the risk is gone and I feel like I am being rewarded immensely.

For example I was checking out Legend of Grimrock when it came out, heard great things about it from friends (and tweets from Notch), but I just couldn't bring myself to spend $15 for a game I may never play. Dropped to $5 in the steam sale and I bought it without hesitation.

Kyle Redd
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I was in the exact same position. I bought Grimrock during the sale (I think it was $7), then played it for an hour or so that night. Sure enough, I don't much care for it. But even if I never come back to it, I still feel like I got my money's worth, for the most part.

Matt Robb
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Steam sales are more or less just marketing. You bump up your market penetration and increase word of mouth advertising as well as making some money on the side.

How many other methods of marketing actually make you money directly rather than being an investment just hoping to increase sales?

John Trauger
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Does this call into question the wisdom of the $60 box + $20 Day 1 DLC model of game pricing? Does this actually provide the most profit?

Kenneth Blaney
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Not really. The $60+ option is for the hardcore fans who want to get everything fast. They are given the option to pay more because they would pay more given the option. The discount deals then work to extract sales from people who aren't fans and wouldn't pay $60 at all. Since digital copies can't actually have a "used" market (data generally doesn't know if its been "used" or not), the Steam sale provides the lower price point in somewhat limited quantities to emulate a digital "used" market.

Todd Boyd
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Some people just like to have the physical media (and all of its assorted accoutrements, like instruction books, maps, etc.)...

Jeremy Reaban
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What I really think harms that model are the "Game of the Year" collections, that eventually come out with all the DLC (and often priced much less, like $40, which also eventually drops down to $20).

But I think ultimately, there's always going to be a number of gamers that want to play the newest games right now, not way for a year or two.

And with the increasing focus on multiplayer, that really is the only way to play many games, as on consoles, usually people have moved on after a few months and there is no one to play with.

Luke S
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I think Asura's Wrath is a good niche market example of this. People who wanted that game payed sixty, forty wouldn't have helped impulse sales so much as it would've labeled the game a "bargain" title, and the core conceit was to sell people the $7 ending chapter.

I can compare my interest for Asura's Wrath to my interest for El Shaddai. I think ES is a much more intriguing premise and a much better designed game. Yet I will spend $60 on neither one. My perceived value for both those game experiences is around the $30 mark, yet I haven't picked up ES yet, even though I can order it for $25. I was happy to rent AW and spend the $7 to finish the game and I never need to play it again. But at some point I want ES in my collection. Niche appeal games are a really fickle impulse, I know I'm not alone in these "when I feel like it" purchase habits.

TC Weidner
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well since there isnt a sunk cost ( ie it cost nothing to produce a digital copy ) I can see why this can be a good thing especially for older games. That being said, I think companies need to be careful, if AAA,or AA titles are being found deeply discounted a few months after release, many gamers and shoppers may simply figure, why should I buy anything not in a major steam sale. Its a cost benefit that every company must weigh I suspect.
Interesting times in this industry, as I type I watched Zynga lose 30% of its value in minutes.

Kel Skye
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One alternative point of view is that Steam sales go a long way to alleviate the region-pricing that happens with some games. I remember when Fallout New Vegas was on pre-order for $45, the day I went to buy it was when they shoved the price up to $90 for Australians. I ended up picking it up in the last Steam sale for $12.50. Same thing happened for Civ V, same thing happened for Rage (and the same thing will happen for Max Payne 3). They would have been full-price sales initially had they not been jacked up in price.

But in general, I love the Steam sales because it allows me to try things that I wouldn't have normally picked up.

John Flush
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At $2-$10 it is almost easy to convert someone from piracy to a customer. It is even easier to turn people into customers that didn't even want you game in the first place. There are people with massive lists of games they bought and now are trying to find time to get to them.

It is pretty amazing that this sale can turn customers out of people that would have outright passed on the games, and still do because they never installed it and it just sits in their library.

Bundles also do this a lot. Take for instance this year for me. I tried a demo of Batman Arkham Asylum way back when, but wasn't impressed. Yet at $6, sure why not lets give the full game a good shake. That isn't even the price of a movie ticket - I'm pretty sure I can find 2 hours of enjoyment out of the game regardless right. But it was also in a bundle with Batman Arkham City, which I hear is the better game anyhow... hum, both for $15ish... that is better than a retail gamble at this point. Oh, and the DLC for how much, maybe I'll like the game, might as well get that too just in case while it isn't jacked up in price. At $24 bucks I bought the whole thing (it also came with City Imposters, which actually I didn't want to appear interested in at all, but the bundle basically gave it away for free)

They might have just made a big customer out of me or maybe not. Regardless, they just got $24 I wouldn't have spent on them otherwise.

William Johnson
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So here is the thing about Steam sales, exposure.

With having flash sales every 8 hours, allowing people to pick what will be on sale next, and new sales every day. This kind of reward schedule gets people coming back to steam and looking at the catalog over and over again.

Who else does that? XBLA and PSN have pretty terrible exposure. Origin pretty much has nothing to help games get more exposure. Apple's App Store's biggest thing is the featured app of the week. Which is nice, but developer would like something more reliable and can help more developers then a once a week spotlight.

Steam sales though. They're amazing. They get a lot of eyes looking at a lot of games, and get those eyes to come back every day (or few hours this time) to look at even more games. And the more people look, the higher the odds are they'll find something they're looking for.

Abraham Tatester
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I just wish I had Steam (and Steam sales) when I was a kid—back when I had far more time than I had money. (Not that I have a lot of money now—I just have so little time!)

Tiago Costa
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"Rather than looking at it as a 'lost sale' when people wait for these Steam discounts, I think it needs to be viewed as reaching out to a new customer that never would have purchased your game otherwise."

This is the thing Im saying to myself every time I see a "bussiness man" talking about games and how steam cheapens the IPs, you know what cheapen's IP... stupid "bussiness men".

Three words: Orcs must die!

I would never buy this game (never got my attention somehow), a friend of mine bought the Goty edition in a steam sale for 5 euro and when I played it, I went home opened my steam account entered my credit card details and bought it for 9 euro (daily promotion had ended).

So yeah two sales rigth there that would never happen.

Also, we've pre-bought Orcs must die 2 for some co-op orchish slayin ... so 4 sales right there...

EDIT: Also I was trying to buy torchligh for some time and when I decided to buy it, the devs launched the pre-order Torchlight II and get Torchlight I for 20 euro... so I jumped faster on it than... something that jumps really fast. Afterwards the same friend watched me playing and the next day pre ordered the same game...

Nathaniel Grundy
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I think of steam sales like those wacky sales pitches made by non-franchised businesses - the prices are so outrageously low that you'd feel like an idiot for passing the sales up. On top of that, at a time where there are so many small games on the market, any recognition a game can get is good recognition.

Corey smith
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I love the Steam sales. I will say they have definitely devalued games for me though. There are some games out there whose marketing entices me, but I wait for them to go on sale. Shoot Many Robots is a prime example. The reviews for the game made me feel like it was a great concept and excellent in many ways, but ultimately failed to leverage its full potential. It finally went on sale and I bought a 4 pack for less than the full price of the game. I've done something similar with many other titles. I buy my games as gifts so I can trade them later if I have a change of heart although I've never done this. I also keep them around so I can give them as gifts to friends.

Ultimately I just don't really have time for games anymore. The market is flooded with so many stellar casual/indie games. I have a ton installed that I've barely played and a ton more in my gift queue. When all you really have time to do is check out the art and game mechanic for a little bit, you don't really want to pay the money for a full game. I don't buy AAA titles until years after they come out, if at all.

So now when I look at the prices of games I expect a lot more for my money. Why would I pay $60 for something I'll spend about as much time on as a game I bought for $2.50? Sure the quality may be significantly better... but not that much better. Still, these Steam sales have expanded my game budget. I may be paying a lot less, but on things I NEVER would have purchased. In some ways I justify it as "charity." I like knowing I am supporting developers making quality games that I may only barely play, or play at all. At full price they would never see my money. I couldn't work through all this great content I've already purchased even if I took a year off from work to dedicate to it. But I am happy, for those I've played briefly, to have at least had the opportunity to experience the fruits of their labors. To me it's kind of like collecting art.

Ron Dippold
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A game has a value to a customer. When it hits that price they'll buy it.

Heightened exposure doesn't hurt - there are always some pretty good deals during the Steam sales you'll never find without digging because they're not on the front page. But I often pass on front page games for 75% off because I'm not interested in the game - wouldn't even play them for free, given the time costs.

Some games I'll only buy at <= $5. Call of Duty are worth maybe $10 each. Crysis 2 is a $20 game to me. #Sworcery and Bastion were instant buy at launch price. Borderlands 2 I'll pre-order at full price. Everyone's value levels are different (for some Bros, CoD is preorder + subscription), but I know a lot of people who buy games and haven't seen anything to contradict this except when they just can't afford what they want to pay.

Luke S
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I think the current state of JC Penney is an important read for any developer/publisher concerned about the impact sales have. Because they are vital to good "consumerism" business. http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-05-24/remaking-j-dot-c-
dot-penney-without-coupons

The tl;dr summary is this: Consumers want to *see* a bargain, not *trust* they're getting their money's worth. JCP now has some of the lowest consistent prices in the market, but because they don't have sales or coupons anymore, their Q1 volume is down almost 20%.


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