The Danger of Sales

Fleshy version of the Steam sale...

Sales shopping is something that happens the world over, all the time. Every day, prices are being lowered on select products to try and lure you in to stores and make vast amounts of moolah before you realise that all you’ve actually bought is an over-sized toilet brush and half a tin of baked beans (which, coincidentally, sounds like my kind of night in). Now, this isn’t some big rant about consumerism and capitalism, and I’m not gonna go all Fight Club on you and start talking about blowing up the credit card companies to reset everyone’s debts to zero (wait, I think I just solved Britain’s deficit problems…), because that would be boring and not what people want to read about, unless they read the Financial Times. Which I’m not saying is a bad newspaper… all right, I’ll get to the point. Sales on games are a dangerous thing.

Take Steam, for example.  This rather splendid game distribution service makes it very easy for a person to spend large sums of cash without blinking an eye, on products that they may never use. How do they do this? Every week, almost without fail, they run a special offer on a game, or series of games, and every weekend change the deal to something else. How can I not turn them down? I mean, sure, I’ve never wanted to play Blood Bowl in my entire life. I’ve heard bad things about it from a friend (although his idea of a great game is Runescape, so he might not be the best judge). But wait! You’re offering it for 75% off the usual price? Good sir, I think we may have an arrangement!

It gets even worse when summer and Christmas come around. That’s when Valve really open the floodgates. Last Christmas I bought no less than eleven different games, one of which being the complete edition of Civilization 4. Did I spend a lot of money? Probably not. Some of these games were reduced to as little as £2.50, though I guess it all adds up. Did I play all these games? Well, no.  Mafia 2 for a fiver seemed like a great idea at the time, but when it had finished downloading I realised that I’d already enjoyed it for long enough on the 360 and didn’t need a repeat playthrough.

Railworks 2 was another game I thought would be fun for an age. I’d been tempted by it for a long time, being into bizarre games such as this, but the £30 price tag put me off.  Last Christmas, however, it was reduced to £15.  Naturally, I snapped it up right away, but here’s the kicker: the very next day, it was reduced further to just £4.25.  And herein lies the problem with sales. There will always be more sales. What you thought was a great deal only two days ago can quite easily be beaten elsewhere, and it can devour a man’s soul to see something he spent a relatively large sum on when he could have purchased the same item for a fraction of the cost. I know I cried like a baby when I saw that price drop again. Ok, maybe not like a baby; maybe more of a hormonal teenage girl whose boyfriend just called her fat. But how I cried isn’t important.

Yet, despite all this heartbreak, I still continue to look for great deals. My heart flutters with anticipation when I load up Steam every weekend to see what the latest deal might be, lest it arise that Spore is finally reduced to an acceptable price, or Agricultural Simulator 2011 is, at last, a sum I can justify spending. When Microsoft recently had the Xbox Live Arcade sale, I carelessly threw MS Points at it, buying several games I haven’t so much as contemplated touching since I got them.

You know you want to own this game. I do.

I guess what I’m trying to say, if I’m trying to say anything and I’m not just staving off sleep in the hope that my insomnia riddled brain will tell me that doing my homework is a good idea, is that we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be drawn in by these ludicrous price drops that are thrown at us every day.  Don’t make the mistakes I have made and purchase a game like MySims just because it happens to be cheap. Save your money for more worthwhile games: the Portal 2s and L.A. Noires that we so long for, and so rarely receive, because at the end of the day, even if we don’t enjoy the crap we buy, the companies still make money from it.

Also, don’t buy Railworks 2. Seriously.




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8 Comments

  1. richie says:

    Sales + digital distribution = where my cash at, bitch?

    I’ve got unplayed XBLAargh games that I picked up in sales despite them being gash (Deadliest Warrior, Sonic & Knuckles) so I totally empathise with this article.

    Good stuff, Ric.

  2. Lorna says:

    Stuff like this gets me all the time. The pre-xmas XBLA sale ended up sucking away the few points I had, but then Portal for 400msp was a bargain. That’s the thing though… the prices are so fucking good that you start to panic that they’ll never be that way again. Last night I was sucked in and nabbed Evil Genius on Steam because the discount was ending in just 18 hours…

    Steam is the worst that I have yet experienced though – the sales around Xmas were unreal. Still, I can’t argue with picking up seven games for under fourteen quid really. True, some of them were oldies, but that is damn good. Still has to be done but… “Haha, you bought Railworks 2!”

  3. Jocky says:

    Agricultural Simulator 2011?

    I am constantly amazed by the software that people create.

  4. Ste says:

    Steam has well and truely got me by the short and curly’s. Just last night I picked up farcry 1 & 2 for less than £4!! Fucking bargain! New deal at 6pm…. Somebody help me!

  5. Adam says:

    Sales have now got me at the point where if I see a game coming out, I can instantly look at it, look at the prices the supermarket are desperately putting it out for and tell you how much its going to appear in a Sale for and how long you’ll have to wait for it.

    I know that by the end of July I’ll be able to pick up Brink (PC) for around £12, I know that the last two Map Packs for Halo are going to see a 50% reduction on 7th July and so I wait.

    I sit here and wait, refreshing my Steam browser at 6pm every night (now -didn’t used to be so bad it’s just these darned daily deals -so annoyed I missed Evil Genuis) to see whats for sale, if its really cheap and if I actually want it, can I actually wait till the next big sale to pick it up for that price (Easter, Late Summer and Christmas) or must I buy it now?

    I enjoy them, but they’re killing me. Great read Ric :)

  6. Samuel says:

    I’ve had to seriously clamp down on my XBLA spending. Discounted you say? Well, I played the demo and thought it was crap, but this is cheap! Deranged mentality. All those cheap little downloads fucking add up, nearly had an aneurysm when my bank statement showed up for last quarter and I worked out how much I’d spent on Arcade games and DLC.

  7. rich says:

    I bought Mafia 2 yesterday because it was cheap.

    That proves Ric’s point and proves I’m an idiot.

  8. Edward says:

    I’ve actually had a much better arrangement with Steam than I ever thought possible. That is, I only buy the games on sale that I either really wanted or had more than a little interest, but in return I have to actually play them. The only untouched games on my steam are Telltale episodes that I’d already played (but putting them onto Steam gave me a free hat) and games from the Humble Indie Bundle I plan on never ever touching because they aren’t World of Goo.
    The new daily deals on Steam make me feel like I’m going to wake up one day and find my wallet is missing and half the Steam Catalogue has made its way onto my laptop, but I think while my laptop is a bit crap when it comes to playing games I should be able to avoid the enslaught of sales. JUST.

    Great article, Ric :D

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