Guide to Responsible Steam Shopping


Steam is at the forefront of online videogame distribution and is irrefutably the best due to its ease of use, great pricing, crazy offers, even crazier sale periods and free weekend trials, but it can be the demise of your disposable income.

Over the last year I have purchased somewhere between 80 and 90 games on Steam and while they were all dirt cheap, en-masse they add up to a pretty substantial amount. The worst part of this situation is not the fact that it slowly but surely extracted a large sum of money from me, but the fact that it went nowhere. Of all the purchased games I played less than a quarter and I’m sure that I will never get to at least a half of them because of new releases, coupled with a bit of social life and school work.

I learnt that compulsive purchases that are justified by “well this game seems cool/I have it on a last get console and would be nice to have it forever in digital form for this cheap/oh wow this is damn cheap, why not” are extremely irresponsible because most of the games will never even be played. While I do actively want to play every single game I own, there is just too little time and too many new games to play, so these recent Steam purchases are doomed to be untouched.

Steam Sales

While I made these mistakes and cannot right my wrongs you can avoid them if you haven’t yet been caught up in it.

  • First and foremost don’t purchase games that you’re kind of on the fence about unless they’re 75% off or more because chances are they will get there within the next few months, so add them to your wishlist and Steam will email you when they’re on a crazy sale.
  • Don’t buy games you can’t run now just because the offer seems good, wait until your rig is good enough to run them perfectly and then get them – chances are they will be even cheaper. Also if you know that your PC isn’t top tier, check online how well the game in question is optimized and what the realistic minimum requirements are for running it well.
  • Don’t buy games you already own on other consoles just because it seems like a good idea to have them forever secured to your Steam account, unless you have a craving to play them right now. It’s quite likely that you’ll never even touch them, so only do it if you’re sure that you will strongly want to play them soon or these kinds of purchases will only deplete your savings.

Steam Sale

This is a big one. The Steam sales.

A few times a year Steam has its famous sales where every day a bunch of games have insane discounts and this lasts for a week or so. During this time it’s easy to get caught up in the spirit of the sale, seeing so many big games drop to laughable prices – like Deus Ex: Human Revolution selling for $3 this Holiday sale, only a year and a bit after its release, but you shouldn’t forget the earlier advices and only purchase those games you’re sure to play within the near future. In addition to the aforementioned rules a frw more apply.

  • If there is a game that is over 2-3 months old that you want to purchase and it goes on a 50% sale, try to hold out a bit longer and wait, because it will almost surely drop to 75% sometime during the sale.
  • While new releases of the preceding month are likely to drop to only 50%, so when you see that it’s probably a good idea to snatch it up right away.
  • During sales there are usually many game bundles on sale that in total have an even bigger discount than the games individually, so if you know that there are a few games that you want by the same developer, you should definitely check out the bundles because even compared to the rest the price drops in these are simply ridiculous.

No Steam No

All in all try to avoid purchases that are fueled by nothing more than “well, this is a great price for this game I heard was quite good” because you will end up having spent a load of money, with a huge backlog that is impossible to go through and a tinge of disappointment and self-loathing. I hope that with these few guidelines one can more easily avoid the financial minefield that are the Steam discounts and spend your hard-earned money on games you truly need and not those that will collect metaphorical dust on the metaphorical bookshelves of your Steam library.

 [Written by contributor Valentin Kulemin]

  • Shane Peltzer

    My name is Shane and I’m a Steam Sales-aholic. Awesome article!