Gather round, you huddled gaming masses, for we have exciting news: Steam’s big Winter Sale has just started, and it will run through to January 4. You may well have already got an email in your inbox proudly proclaiming that ‘41 items from your Steam wishlist are on sale!’.
So quick – yikes! – panic – check your bank balance – steel your wallet – or maybe steal someone else’s wallet – and prepare to splurge…
Actually, there’s no need to panic. Not when you have this guide to help you navigate the maze of bargain-basement deals. So take a deep breath and a moment to calm yourself, and peruse this article in which we present our tips and tricks for getting the most out of the Steam Sales, some of the best discounts we’ve seen in the past, and our current Deal of the Moment – the star of the Winter Sale show.
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Steam deal of the moment
Right now, Prey has seen its price chopped in half. We loved Arkane’s stylish reboot of its 2006 shooter, which weaves an incredible atmosphere and offers a surprisingly deep story. Our reviewer called it one of his favorite experiences of 2017, and it could be one of yours over the holidays, with a 50% discount thanks to Steam. Note that you can download a demo on the product page if you want to try before you commit.
75% off Elite Dangerous
Elite Dangerous with a massive 75% reduction? That means this space epic doesn’t cost much more than a pint, and you can’t say fairer than that. Sign us up. Also remember this is a great one for VR fans…View Deal
How to get the best deals in the Steam Sales
Whichever way you approach the Steam Winter Sale (or any other Steam deal-a-thon for that matter), you’re guaranteed to pick up something great at a great price.
But there are a few techniques and tricks that are worth using if you want to get the most out of the sale.
- Use your Steam Wishlist: Fill it up with all the games you’re interested in picking up, and you’ll be alerted the moment they go on sale, and by how much.
- Bundles are great: Publishers often pull their titles together in sale mega-packs, ramping up the savings to even greater heights. If there’s a suite of titles from a publisher like Square Enix or Activision that you’ve never played before, this is the best – and cheapest – way to bag them all at once. As you’d imagine, the value diminishes if you’ve already got a few bundled titles in your library.
- Highlighted deals are where the real savings are: The majority of the Steam store back-catalogue will get some sort of price cut, but it’s the ‘Highlighted’ deals (the ones promoted on the Steam front splash page) that tend to be more heavily discounted. These are the ones where you may fall into impulse-buy territory. Which leads us on to our next tip…
- Only buy what you’ll actually play right away: Once those 75% off signs start floating around, you’re going to want to break open the piggy-bank. But the Steam sales of yesteryear have proved that our desire for overflowing game libraries leaves us with more titles than we could ever humanly play. Save some cash, and only grab the ones you’re really going to play – keep in mind that if you wait a while, the games will almost certainly get cheaper as they get older.
- Use this browser extension: Want to make sure you’re getting a good deal? Use the Enhanced Steam browser extension. This gives you a historical look at the price of all Steam games, letting you see just how many pennies have been saved.
The best Steam Sale deals of the year so far
Gone but not forgotten, here’s our collection of all the best deals we’ve seen up until this point. Use them as a point of reference for what you should be expecting – or you know, lament the ones that got away.
Half-life: Yes, it’s old. But is it still one of the best game franchises in history? Yes. Yes it is. And frankly, at 93% off it didn’t matter if it was garbage. Which it isn’t. It’s great. And 93% off – that was pretty much free.
Skyrim: With over 200 Game of the Year Awards to its name, Skyrim is undoubtedly one of the greatest games of recent years. With its seemingly endless open-world gameplay, this is truly a game that has something for everyone.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition comes complete with remastered art and effects, plus all the mods, meaning, in its own words that “there are no limits to what you can experience”. The entire Elder Scrolls bundle was 50% off.
The Witcher 3: Inarguably the game of 2015, The Witcher 3 is also now widely considered the best RPG of all time. A sprawling dark fantasy epic, it’s a beautiful game, and one that’s a great showpiece for your souped-up gaming PC too.
And, with the Game of the Year Edition being heavily discounted in the Steam Summer Sale 2017, it was a fantastic way to jump into this monumental game, and get all of its DLC at a discount too.
Tomb Raider franchise: Few franchises are as iconic as this, and if you’d missed out on any of Lara’s exploits so far, this was a great way to plug those gaps. Discounts varied between 60% and 80% across the 13 games included in the offer: you could pick up Rise of the Tomb Raider with a 60% discount, for example, and Tomb Raider: Underworld with a whopping 80% off.
The Valve complete pack: If, by some small miracle, you were a PC gamer that was yet to try any of Valve’s homegrown titles, this was your chance. The Valve Complete Pack was a staggering 91% off its usual asking price, including all the Half-Life games and episodes, every Portal game, every Left 4 Dead game, a bunch of DLC and much, much more.
What games are going to be in the Steam Sales?
First off, don’t expect brand-new games to get the deep discounts that have become synonymous with the Steam sales. You may see a 5%, or even 10% discount on games that have been recent big hits, but if they’re still new enough to be spinning money without needing a price cut, don’t expect that to change now that the sale is here.
But, with the exception of the newer titles, pretty much the entire store receives a 25% discount, if not higher, and some hit the heady heights of 90% off the list price. While the store now highlights what Valve considers the best deals, it’s worth noting that flash and community sales are no longer in the mix, so feel free to pick a title on sale when you like – its discounted price will stand for the duration of the sale.
Of course, Other Gaming Stores Do Exist™, and it’s worth checking their wares too, to see if you can’t bag an even bigger bargain elsewhere. GOG.com is a great place to start, and if you’re platform-agnostic and looking for multi-platform titles, keep an eye on the PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Deals with Gold offers, too.