Did I Miss The Train On Steam Sales?
Up until recently, I was a dangerously devoted console gamer. I have never cared about "the best" graphics, resolutions beyond what my TV can do, or anything beyond 60fps (hell, I will take 30 if it's a constant 30), all I actively cared about where that I could play the games I wanted to, when I wanted to. Back in the 90s and early 2000s I was a devote PC gamer, but after over a decade of bad PC releases and often unrealistic tech specs, I gave up and embraced consoles completely. For those curious about timelines, this all happened in the somewhat early days of Steam, back when Valve still made games. From tower built of closed-system hardware, I kept track of the PC gaming world as it entered into a somewhat insane dark age of just terrible support. I would be lying if I denied that I carried myself with a certain smugness since I had managed to dodge a pretty terrible period in PC gaming.
At the same time though, there was always something I was envious of the PC community of; Steam Sales. While the modern Steam Sale is still a fantastic chance to pick up a ton of games for cheap, it's not the same as what it once was, and I definetly missed out. For those confused, the Steam Sales I am talking about came twice a year (one in summer, one in winter) and they were a digital mosh pit of people refreshing scowering the Steam client and website hunting for deals. On top of that, there was often some kind of gamification to the sales that could net you even greater savings if you were willing to put the time in. Oh, and what savings they were. New Triple-A titles for literal dollars sometimes cents depending on the game's age, flash sales that promised and then delivered near criminal deals for those who were willing to follow the sale aggressively, and all of this held together by a bizarre sense of community that was a mix of "dear god am I broke now" and "praise be to Gaben!" As a frequently broke at the time console gamer, I was envious of all of this.
For years, every time a Steam sale rolled around I was tempted to log into my old Steam account to buy stuff I would never play just so I could be part of one of the big gaming events of the year. If E3 is gamer Christmas, then the Steam Sales were the day after Christmas when you were free of family obligations and actually got to play with all the awesome stuff you got, and to make it better, it came twice a year. One of the things I was most looking forward to after my recent re-entry into being a PC gamer was my first Steam sale. I was not picky about which one sale it was, but finally I was going to have a front row seat for the madness and also reap the benefits of it; and then the 2016 Steam Summer Sale happened. I am aware that the most recent winter sale was also suspiciously devoid of flash sales and some of the other noteworthy craziness, but I was not setup at the time, so the 2016 Summer Sale was the first one I was actually involved with. Sure everyone recycled their favorite .gifs of Gaben sucking wallets into PCs and or descending Monty Python style from a ray of light in the sky, but that's about all the community crazy I got to experience.
Ultimately, I feel as though I have missed out on something major that is never coming back. Valve is under no obligation to bring back what once was, and why should they when the ghosts of Steam Sales past will continue the lore and hype of Steam Sales for the foreseeable future. Hell, I would bet money that in ten years the big Steam Sales will become treasured gaming memories that we will reminisce about and shame youngsters with. I am not saying that there is not a place for the Steam Sale as it currently stands, just simply that what the Steam Sale use to be and mean is something that I am sure we are all going to missed.