The time is upon us for the seasonal slashing of retail prices on everybody’s favorite PC game distributor, Steam. July the 12th marked the start of 2012’s Summer Sale, and everyone I know is dropping mad stacks on deeply discounted video games. I even picked up a couple of things, despite my wallet being as depressed as an extra in a Tyler Perry movie. As gamers, we always await these regular sale events from Steam with moist anticipation, and this summer maybe more than most. There was a slight delay from when the general public expected the sale to hit, and for a couple of weeks prior, the common catchphrase was “when is the Summer Sale?” But, the sale came, we started buying games with a unique blend of child-like excitement and economic guilt, and now on the fifth day, we’re nowhere near done with it. But, something about the Summer Sale feels off. Something is missing. There’s no game afoot. Valve, where is the meta?
Last year’s Summer Sale on Steam was the Summer Camp. Not only did Steam put tons of games on sale, convincing the deal-hungry public to dish out way more cash than they intended, but it also had everyone jumping through hoops for Summer Camp tickets. Most of the tickets required certain achievements to be unlocked in certain games and each ticket was an entry into the raffle. The grand prize of the raffle was that 100 people would receive a free copy of each of the top ten games on their Steam wishlist. The event was great! People had a great time trying for some free stuff, and the fact that we did so by playing video games that we bought cheaply is nothing short of beautiful. Valve crafted an amazing event. Everybody won. This year, it’s just the “Summer Sale”, and it’s pretty underwhelming.
You might now be saying, “Zoeker, stop bitching! They’re giving us a bunch of games for cheap as Hell! What else do you want?!” Well, Valve isn’t just ‘giving’ this to us. It’s part of their sales technique. They get a largely increased consumer fondness along with a potential bump in overall profit. We all benefit from this, and that’s why I love Valve. They found the better way. But, I’ve seen what else they can do, and I’m just a little disappointed at what they haven’t done. Valve loves to get the community involved in events and ARG’s. I love when they do it. So, can’t I be a little disappointed? The coolest feature of this sale is the ‘Community Choice’ side-sale which puts up a poll where the game with the most votes goes on sale for the next eight hours. It’s a cool feature, but it’s pretty shallow. Steam also offers a digital badge for participation in the Summer Sale, but… to what end? It’s just a novelty. There’s no giveaway. No meta-game. No deeper interaction. There’s just a sale. Okay, Valve. Thank you for the sale. It’s much appreciated. *Walks away, kicking a tin can down the street*
I do feel a bit of apprehension complaining about this subject. Valve is a very gracious company, and I cherish their consumer philosophy. So, maybe I am being greedy, but I know what they can offer, and I want more. I want ARG’s. However, I’m sure there are some very pragmatic reasons they just had to put this sale out here so we can buy our cheap games. They did just do all of that stuff with Team Fortress 2’s Pyro, and whatnot. Maybe they’re busy making a ‘Steam Box’. I dunno, maybe they just didn’t feel like going all out this time. I just hope we’ll be seeing more engaging community events from Valve in the future. I want to recapture the fun I’ve had with them in the past, as well as continue to be treated to much needed discounts. So, to Valve I say, I look forward to the next sale, and I hope dearly that you will have some fun with us.