The birds are singing in the trees, the sun is beating down on me like it’s personal (in Texas at least), so it must be time for the Steam summer sale.

It’s funny how ingrained Steam sales have become into PC gaming’s lexicon. Steam’s phenomenal popularity surge over these past few years has opened up a sizable market for Valve. Couple that with substantial discounts on games that have sometimes been released only weeks before and you can see why various Steam sales have now become the stuff of legend.

Steam’s heavy discounts have even started to be copied by other retailers. Origin has begun doing infrequent heavy discounting, and now even offer one free game a month. Granted, there’s a good chance you already own the free game as they are, how shall we say, not the newest, but at the end of the day free is free. Games given away by Origin so far include Plants vs. Zombies: Game of the Year Edition, Peggle, Battlefield 3, and Dead Space. All excellent games in their own way, and all available for the low, low price of $0.

PC gaming’s strength though is its diversity. Steam is the big hitter in the digital space, but there’s Origin, GoodOldGames (GOG), Desura, Humble, GameStop’s online service (formerly Stardock Impulse), GreenManGaming, Amazon Digital, Uplay, and seemingly more springing up every few weeks. All of these companies are competing with each other for your money, resulting in lower prices for you. Games are routinely marked off at 30-50% discounts on Steam and Amazon even just a handful of weeks after their release. Sales, and the Steam sales in particular, have really become associated sith being one of the big pluses about PC gaming. Sure, there are console sales on the various ecosystems of the big players, but the discounts don’t seem to be as big, or on as many titles as many PC sales seem to be.

Some people even seem to base their gaming purchases solely around sales, and wait for the three or so big sales that Steam will do every year and buy their games solely from that. It’s not something I do personally, but given the quite substantial amounts of money you could probably save by doing something like this I can see how attractive it would seem. It would almost be like transfer windows in football (I don’t use the word soccer, sorry), except instead of buying a 250 pound behemoth, you instead get fun new games to play.

So far on Steam’s 2014 summer sale I’ve seen excellent deals for triple-A titles like BioShock Infinite, Tomb Raider, Dark Souls, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (perhaps the best $5 you could ever hope to spend), Saints Row IV, Borderlands 2, Shadowrun Returns, and so many others that it’s been hard to keep track. Fortunately my poor wallet has only had to deal with paying for the Dragonfall DLC for Shadowrun Returns, but Magicka for $3.74 is looking mighty attractive, and I’m holding out hope for a steeper discount on South Park: The Stick of Truth than we’ve seen so far. There is, quite literally, something for every type of gamer out there. First-person shooters, third-person shooters, RPGs, indies, sims, RTS; there is something for every type of gamer if you look hard enough.

The sad truth is that many people will buy heavily-discounted games and then never touch them again. I’m not sure what the allure of that is, perhaps to pad your Steam account? Either way, if you buy something on the Steam sale then don’t just let it sit in your library unappreciated, install it, play it and give it a fair shake. I’ve already put in a couple of hours on Dragonfall, since I very much enjoyed Shadowrun Returns, and Dragonfall just seems to be more of the same, but better. Books are meant to be read, art is meant to be viewed, and games are meant to be played. Spend a pittance and then actually play the games you have bought. It’s truly a great time to be a PC gamer.

Have you found any great deals recently, or are waiting on a particular sale for something? Let us know in the comments!

Simon Nash
I write about PC games and sometimes it even makes sense. I'm a refined Englishman, but live in Texas with my two young children whom I am training in the ways of the Force.

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