Last Day Steam Summer Sale

It’s the last day of the Steam Summer Sale, so if there were any deals they’re back and this is your last chance. Here is a list of games that are on special, and if you don’t own them yet – SHAME ON YOU.

(all prices are AUD. Click to jump to Steam.)

Tomb Raider – this was an amazingly good game, now only $5

The Stick of Truth – It lived up to the hype, now $37

XCOM: Enemy Unknown – One of the greatest games ever made for $13. Steam is crazy.

Civ V – the crowning jewel of the Civ series… and that’s saying a lot. $13.50

State of Decay – An amazingly fun, and unique, take a zombie apocalypse. It is a bit rough here and there, but for $5 it’s a bargin.

Banished – An extremely fun and challenging city builder. Nothing like starving a fledging village of outcasts during the winter! $10

Payday 2 – I’ve been getting a LOT of mileage out of this game. Get a crew together for an fantastic co-op experience that has great theme, depth, and RPG-like elements. You’ll get many hrs for your $6

Stanley Parable – I’m not going to try and explain this one… but for $6 you really should try it to see what all the fuss is about.

Batman: Arkham Origins – It was missing a little something-something from the other Arkham games, but it was still worth sinking 22 hrs into. $7.50

Dragon Age: Origins – A good RPG, you’ve probably heard of it. I go against the grain and claim the second was better. I mostly suggest this one now, because the upcoming Inquisitions is looking really good so for $7.50 you could catch up on the “story so far.”

Wolfenstein: The New Order – Just a straight up fun FPS. Captured “Wolfenstein with modern computing technology” really well. A-grade fun here, boys! $40 (expensive, I know, but that IS 50% off.)

Portal 2 – Who would have thought they could improve on the original? Well they did! Play it now. With a friend is a good option too. $5

Chivalry: Medieval Warfare – a standard multiplayer FPS with a easy-to-use-hard-to-master melee system. Plenty of fun to be had here for $5.

Are Steam Sales Bad?

So says The Castle Doctrine developer, Jason Rohrer.

steamsale2

I have to admit, at first I was armed and ready to completely discount this idea. Sales, bad? He makes some points, but I think ultimately he is wrong.

Before I get into that, though, I think that there are several successful strategies possible. For example, the Minecraft/Castle Doctrine pricing model works to a degree: I was keeping an eye on Castle Doctrine, and now he’s saying it is 50% off for the last time ever, I think I’ll add it to my library (possibly never to be played…) (also not really to my library, because it’s not on Steam.)

So the points I agree with: Yes, tricking players into buying something they don’t want is a bit anti-ethical. However, most sales folk wouldn’t bat an eyelid. Marketing is practically built around the idea. (Basic premise of marketing: create a need, then fill the need. Note they CREATE it first. For example, shampoo will talk about “damaged hair strands” and then go on to say how their brand fixes that. You’re not supposed to realise that damaged hair strands isn’t really a thing. i.e. they trick you into buying something you don’t want.)

However, no-one feels burned by this. People pick the games up super cheap, knowing full-well they MAY NOT PLAY IT. They buy it for that price, JUST IN CASE THEY DO PLAY IT. For $5? Sure, I’ll take the risk. I’m paying for the possibility of playing should the mood strike me. Best-case scenario: I play an excellent game for very cheap; worst-case scenario: I throw away $5. Honestly, something I can live with.

If I bought a game, full-price, and then it later went on sale I also wouldn’t feel burned. I paid for the privilege of getting it early. And I’d be fine with that. I knew if I just waited 6 months it’d likely be on sale, but NO WAY I’m waiting that long for a game I’m hanging out for. Even if it DOES go on sale, for the first 12 months it’s usually barely 25%. And how does that make me feel? Not bad at all. I’ve probably played and dropped the game by the time it comes on sale. I don’t feel burned at all. In fact, if I really liked the game (e.g. Tomb Raider) every time it goes on sale, I tell my friends: You should get this game!

Now, I have to admit, the frequent sales have definitely changed my buying habits. I now only buy 3 or 4 full-priced games a year and unless it was something I was really hanging out for, I do feel pretty ripped off. A perfect example is Splinter Cell: Blacklist. I loved Conviction, but didn’t like some of the stuff I was hearing about Blacklist. I hummed and harred, but after watching a few videos decided to take the plunge. For a game I wasn’t pumped about, paying a full $80 for it was pretty painful. All the worse because the game was pretty average, not great.

On balance, I’d estimate I spend about the same amount on games per year but, I don’t pirate any more (much easier to just wait for a sale) and I buy less full-price games and tons more cut-price games and games on special.

Also, one final point: I never bought Minecraft in part because of the rising price model. I was always on the fence about the game, and the longer I delayed the more expensive it got. It never got to the point of “OMG so costly” but it passed the point where I was willing to pick it up “just to try” a fair while back… the sort of scenario where I might have picked it up if I saw it on special. But that isn’t going to happen. So I never got it.

So, in summary:

  • I don’t think sales hurt long-term income at all and gives your community a regular injection of a new players.
  • I do think it cannibalizes your launch week community a little bit, but for the most part these losses wouldn’t have been people who were pumped for your game anyway. I think it’s a minor sacrifice.
  • I think in the long run, regular sales would ultimately bring in more money and more players – particularly when you consider that it’s the guys that pick it up on special who then get their friends to buy it full-price (I cannot count how many times I’ve done this (both as the sales-person and the full-price purchaser.))
  • I think that other sales methods (such as the open and up-front rising price model) will work fine as well. In fact, it might depend on the sort of game (games that are grass-roots and grow over time might benefit more from this model, while games with lots of hype benefit more from Steam Sales.)
  • There are some people who will feel “burned” by the rising price model.

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The background for this pic: The dev just added the ability to arm your wife with a shotgun, so when the robber comes knocking, she can blow him away – and/or hit the panic button and… release the hound. Did I mention the “robber” is another player?

Having said my piece, The Castle Doctrine is only $8 right now, and seems like a fascinating idea. So I have grabbed it “just in case.”

It’s fortunate I came across this article when I did, because it is NOT going to be on Steam, and will go up to $16 very soon. Those two things combined probably would have meant I would not have made the purchase.

It seems like Jason has a unique mind: it shows in his game design. But I think his desire to be unique is hurting his bottom line.

Steam Sale Ends With A Last Hurrah

Well the Steam sale is technically over. However it’s doing an “Encore” day where they’re bringing back the most popular deals.

As such, there’s nothing new, but you should probably cast your eyes over the store page one final time in case you missed one of the deals I mentioned in my previous posts. I noticed Dishonored, is back, for example. 75% off Tomb Raider, Chivalry, and Civilization V; all excellent, excellent, games.

 

I might just spend a quick moment to explain why I haven’t recommended Bioshock Infinite yet, though. It’s 50% off and had many, many rave reviews.

To me, Bioshock is a series that – like Halo – is mostly redeemed for being a half-decent shooter on console. Console just doesn’t do FPS very well, so when one that is pretty good comes along it gets a lot of attention. The original Halo was like that, and has spawned a very long-running series. Who knows? It might have actually got pretty good by the end, storyline-wise, but I never saw anything terribly inventive when it came to the actual First Person Shooting to make it stand out.

I was excited to try the original Bioshock. The world of Rapture was pretty interesting, and the storyline not to shabby at all. The gameplay though… eh. As an example, everyone was so excited about the magical powers called plasmids. Do you know what plasmids were? Weapons. There was absolutely no difference between a plasmid in Bioshock and picking up the rocket launcher in Doom. Just a different tool to shoot enemies with. You know who else took the idea of “rebranding a weapon as a spell” ? Hexen. 1995Do know which game did it better? Hexen II. 1998.

So, OK, Bioshock had a cool world. Do you know what’s a quicker way to experience a cool world than playing through a so-so shooter? Read wikipedia.

I heard Bioshock 2 was significantly worse than the original, so I certainly didn’t pick it up. I have heard that Bioshock Infinite has an excellent storyline with many interesting twists and turns… but even by console shooter standards the combat is pretty so-so. So – once again – a so-so shooter with a good story and world.

One day, I might tear through the game on easy just to see the story and experience the world. I don’t think reading the wiki is going to quite do it justice. Having said that, I’m surely not going to pay $80 for a pretty poor game. With Steam Sales knocking games down to less than $10 regularly, I’m not even going to consider it at 50% off (which it is right now as part of the “Encore.”)

Maybe next year. I tell you what, Bioshock Infinite. I’ll put you on my wishlist, and if you drop below $15 like Dishonored, I’ll pick you up to see what the fuss is about. I even promise to avoid spoilers online.

Steam Sales Steam Sales Steam Sales

Ok so. Prison Architect. If nothing else is on sale today, this is a game you have to get. It’s awesome. Look! The devs are funny https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDDzSOS0vzc

Worms Revolution: As good as the original!

FTL: A kickstarter success story, and just a fun bite-sized game all-round.

But you know what? I’m seeing more games to avoid than to get today. Except Prison Architect. You should totes play that.

Steam Sales Bounce Back

Some good looking deals today…

Farcry 3: Farcry had an annoying protagonist, terrible storyline, and what must be the most over-hyped villain of all time (I was surprised, after playing, that people actually thought Vaas was a good bad-guy.) Having said that… the game was a lot of fun. Not the gunplay, it was ho hum, but the wingsuit and open world were pretty decent. The stealth machete kills are what elevated this game from average to pretty damn fun. 40% is a damn good price (though I would forgive you for waiting until next year when it’ll probably be 75% off.)

XCOM: Didn’t this pop up a few days ago? I’m pretty sure yes. If you missed it, don’t miss it now. Seriously. Don’t.

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing: Hmm. Diablo clone. Looks pretty good though, I have to say. It was already a budget-priced game with high-price quality. Now it is less than $10 I think I better find out how good it is for myself. (And 3 mates.)

Torchlight II: Speaking of Diablo clones… Torchlight is arguably the best of the lot. The only problem for Torchlight II was releasing after Diablo 3. It was a good game, I know some of my friends even liked it better than D3, but it suffered from “Action RPG burnout.” We had flogged D3 so hard, we couldn’t make it past the first chapter of Torchlight II. It was not the fault of the game.

Magicka: Another game I burnt out on, but boy did I love it before I did. The magic system is one of the best in gaming, and the guaranteed hilarity that ensues from the emergent systems makes the $2.50 a ridiculous bargain. The best description of this game ever is here: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/01/24/spell-check-5-mistakes-to-avoid-in-magicka/

Left 4 Dead 2: I’ve been playing this lately and loving it. I played the hell out of the first one, but refused to buy the second because it is censored in Australia. Now Australia has the R18+ at long last, and L4D2 was a ridiculous $4 (now $10) I decided to bite the bullet. Unfortunately even with the R18+ rating we are still lumped with the “low violence” version. Fortunately it is only a matter of changing one value in a text file to get gore back. Unfortunately this means you can’t play on Australian servers. Fortunately, I was only planning on playing on a local server anyway. If you’re Australian, and don’t have 4 friends you will definitely play with, avoid. Otherwise, get!

Antichamber: I have bought this game. It is less of a game and more of an “experience.” Well, perhaps that isn’t fair. It’s definitely a puzzler… but not really puzzles like you’ve experienced before. It’s a trippy, mind-bending experience that I certainly can’t describe here. I picked it up cheap and consider it worthwhile as something different.

Another Day Another Deal (STEAM!)

Today on special we have…

Batman Arkham City: Look, if you haven’t played this yet – what the hell is wrong with you? Get it now while it’s 75% off. That’s so criminal that Batman… something-something justice joke.

And… that’s all I can recommend with a clear conscience. Look, Mount & Blade is good, and at less that 5 bucks a great bargin, but it’s a massive time-sink and is certainly not for everyone. Deus Ex everyone else loved, but I thought was middling-to-good at best… having said that at $3.50 even a middling game is a steal. Bastion is less than $3 right now, and it’s a game that has been raved about. I played it for an hour or two. It was definitely different and interesting, but couldn’t compete with all the other games I want to play.

Gunpoint is brand new, so only 10% off. It’s an indie game I’m somewhat interested in, so I thought I’d mention it. Since it has to compete with the rest of the Steam sales I’m going to pass on it this time.

 

Better luck tomorrow, Steam!

 

Steam Sale special mention: Dishonored

It’s hard to find a review that doesn’t rave about Dishonored:

http://www.computerandvideogames.com/371574/reviews/dishonored-review-one-of-the-greatest-games-of-the-generation-review/

http://au.ign.com/articles/2012/10/08/dishonored-review

http://www.pcgamer.com/review/dishonored-review/

http://au.gamespot.com/dishonored/

But I really haven’t liked the look of the game, so I never tried it. In fact, it was getting so much mention around the internet I’d started blocking the keyword to cut back on spam.

Finally, I found a review that enunciates the problems I saw (http://killscreendaily.com/articles/reviews/kill-screen-review-dishonored-stew-too-many-ingredients/)

Having said that… it’s only $15 right now, so for that price I thought I’d find out for myself. Perhaps you’ll do the same? http://store.steampowered.com/app/205100/