It’s already begun, folks; The Steam Summer Sale 2014, and if you’ve got enough dough left to pay this month’s rent by the end of the week, well then I salute you, sir or madam.
I fall into the same trap everyone else does whenever Valve rears up its Variable Generosity Engine, and games I was on the fence about, nay, may NEVER EVEN INSTALL will get bought, filed, and periodically lamented about in my library. Â Well, maybe it’s not ALL bad; There are always plenty of deals to be had on games you should have been playing years ago, with another chance to take a first look, hopefully at a far more attractive and reasonable sticker price. Â Moreover, options change every 8 hours WITHIN each sale day as new sets of deals emerge, some even democratically from user voting at large. Â Crafting ordinary virtual bric-a-brac like Badges even gets a temporary glow from the Team points you can earn for your…..wait, what?
It’s (another) GAME WITHIN A GAME SERVICE
Not to rest on its laurels from previous Summer Sales involving Trading Cards, craftable community items, and otherwise showering youÂ with profile wallpaper duplicates, the 2014 sale introduces TEAMS. Â Of course, you can’t choose your team color; you’re randomly assigned one the first time you vote or otherwise participate in the sale event. Â The five teams all compete via accumulation of points from various activities during the sale, and the highest-scoring team at the end of each day wins
absolutely nothing a snowball’s chance in hell at three free games for 30 of its members; the lucky winners choose three games they want from their wishlists. Â Valve isn’t giving you a clue exactly on how many people are in what team, save for the overall point values each team is accumulating, and your friends’ team color affiliation, so you can put a face to a name of the dastardly way-too-far-ahead team of the day.
As of this writing, we’re well into day 4, and if Pink is to be believed, we’ll end up with 4 different teams winning on 4 different days. Â Well that’s fine as far as spreading the wealth around, but it’s hard to gauge the reality of the numbers in question. Â There might be color team members coordinating efforts; though it seems unlikely, the Pink team having inexplicably lapped everyone else should give the conspiracy theorists something to talk about. Â You have to imagine something like this is in part a community event-driven tool Valve is using to make this year’s sale more interesting and competitive for the players, but at the same time is probably giving them plenty of good stress-test figures and demographic valuation, and the organic wallet-hosing behavior modeling game-theorist wet dream that will undoubtedly be used towards bigger and better content delivery services.
Well, if I’m going to be marketed to anyways, they might as well do a better job offering me what I want, and what I want is to obviously spend money on digital trading cards, which make badges, which get me even MORE virtual goods, which is more or less the pinnacle of SteamÂ heroin, leaving you fulfilled and accomplished, until that feeling wears off into depression upon the realization of your downward-spiraling bank statements, or at best that otherwise belated Father’s Day gift now has to be handmade from common household items.
Puns aren’t perishable;Â They’re always stale.
So I say as long as you know the wave of wonderful, terrible deals are once again upon you, just go ahead and let yourself go on whatever amount of money you can spare. Â Give ’til it hurts. Â Rationalize it by setting up Family Sharing with other housemates and spread your collective purchases out. Â Take that weekend-long gaming vacation languishing in morning-after hand-eye-coordination overload, and tune in diligently for a gasping chance at a few scraps from Valve’s library coffers. Â Play your cards right, and you’ll still end up in the black overall from your last chance at some fantastic deals ’til the Autumn sale. Â But remember, timing is everything.
Kotaku’s Nathan Grayson (via TMI) explains the phenomena as it developed over the first few days of the sale, as conspiracy theories abounded whether individual steam accounts, outside hacker groups, or Valve itself was involved in the odd behavior resulting in individual teams taking huge leads in the Summer Sale team competition. Â Valve has since adjusted the rewards, adding 2nd and 3rd place teams (20 and 10 steam accounts, respectively) to also receive the hallowed 3-free-game prizes. Â It’s unknown at this time what the true circumstances were in what might be called AdventureGate 2014, but as of this writing it still appears that an individual team per day ends up being way ahead, despite any actual fixes to the point system or plugging of security holes.
Y’know, Prison Architect is probably on sale, too.