Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Steam Summer Sale: A Horrible Time for College Students

The title for this blog might be somewhat of a misnomer.  The Steam Summer Sale is a fantastic yearly event for PC gamers, in which fantastic video games for the PC are on sale for outrageously discounted prices.  Renowned PC games go on sale with upwards of 85-90% discounts on their original prices, creating a cycle of endless spending for an eleven-day period.

While this is a grand time of jubilee and careless spending for PC gamers across the world, an interesting spending trend resurfaces on a yearly basis.  The game’s prices drop so low, gamers are blind to how much they spend overall; they only remain cognizant to individual purchases, and the attractiveness of each discounted game in particular.  The inevitable result is the rapid emptying of wallets and bank accounts in the name of cheap video games.  Being frugal with video game purchases in this time of year can make the Steam Summer Sale not something to fear, but rather, unconditionally loved.

Here is a quick explanation of Steam, as well as the Steam Summer Sale.  Steam is a digital distribution platform developed by the Valve Corporation, which most commonly distributes games and other media online.  In laymen's terms, it is a computer program designed to manage purchased PC video games, as well as function on multiple computers.  For instance, I could buy a video game on my laptop using Steam, and install that game on both my laptop and my work computer.  Along with being a hub for your purchased games, Steam also utilizes social media functions via the community of gamers that you are part of, allowing for multiplayer gaming, as well as basic chat and sharing capabilities.

The Steam Summer Sale is arguably when Steam is the most popular; it’s the week and a half period where games are highly discounted, yet they accrue a larger amount of purchases than any other time in the year.  Amazing games are offered up for extremely low, attractive prices.  It is a successful marketing tactic, to the point that gamers will make false promises to themselves that they will not spend more money than they can afford on video games.  A vicious spending cycle like this one deserves attention.

A funny picture, but it is an accurate
depiction of what the sale can do to people.
Now, this blog post is not me being skeptical, or even hateful, of what Steam provides its customers with its summer sale.  I started my purchases with Civilization V: Brand New World, and I doubt my purchases will end there.  My problem is that I live a college lifestyle, and I, along with others, cannot afford to designate a large amount of my paycheck to video games from Steam.  It is bad enough the deals are great, but Steam also uses reward gimmicks to tempt me into further purchases.  All PC gamers should realize that nobody is forcing you to buy more games than you need.  It is just a question of personal control in a time where splurging on PC games seems like a grand idea.

For the rest of the sale, and for subsequent sales in the future, set benchmarks to avoid wasting a large amount of money.  Tell yourself that you will only spend a certain amount of money on games during the entirety of the sale, or, cap yourself on a daily basis on a monetary or individual game basis.  Another good idea is to make a wish list.  Steam allows you to pick games that you would like to buy in the future, and if they are discounted during the sale, you will get an email letting you know.  Using the wish list will prevent wasteful purchases, and allows one to focus on games that they actually want, separate from what the summer sale will tell you that you want.

The Steam Summer Sale is not evil; it just does not give gamers the disclaimer that they deserve.  I suggest checking out the sale before it ends July 22; just do not go overboard with purchases.  Also, read into steps on how to protect yourself against marathon gaming, a common side effect of the Steam Summer Sale.  Your college lifestyle, and your wallet, will thank you.

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