Tips for Navigating Game Sales

Everything is on sale in stores and on Steam and Origin! Don't get sucked in; use these tips to shop wisely.

A number of games have been listed for sale on gaming platform Steam for the weekend of February 21, 2014 to February 24, 2014. Origin has games marked down by up to 50 percent. Other platforms and outlets have marked down prices, too. At first glance, one would think that the gaming industry is going out of business. But what really prompts those sudden post-Christmas sales?  

Most of these sales are meant to encourage more users to gaming platforms, and likely, to generate more income during the end of the first quarter for 2014. Although the average gamer might not be aware of it, this is a very well-known and respected sales strategy. Ramping up sales in the end of the first quarter can help businesses to report greater gains at the close of the quarter itself.

It's extremely difficult for most businesses to market to post-Christmas consumers; this is true whether consumers are gamers or not. When paired with the still slightly struggling economy, it bodes poorly for sales. By marketing aggressively in the first quarter, gaming platforms and providers can help to alleviate that average slump. This can sometimes prevent poor reports on March 31. The sales currently being held by Origin and Steam are but one example of this. Running sales, betas, and demos at this time of year can re-generate interest after the busy spending season.

 How to Navigate the Sales

Unfortunately, with sales comes not-really-a-sale markdowns. It's important to be wary that you don't jump on a deal simply to gain access to a sale because it sounds good. When your favorite game is joined with a game you can't stand as a 2-for-1, this really isn't much of a deal. Since you aren't likely to ever play the second game, you really aren't getting anything over and above what you would have already had. Likewise, a 10 percent markdown when you need to travel 30 miles to buy the game from a retail store isn't a deal, either.

Set a Limit Before Shopping

Set a hard limit before shopping to ensure that you adhere to your budget. Never go to a game store with a credit card or access to all of your available funds unless you are exceptionally sure that you won't get sucked in by high-pressure, in-your-face deals. There's nothing wrong with setting a high budget--just make sure you set one, period. This is also true when purchasing online; don't get swept up by just-one-more-ism. Picture Steam like that really angry guy to the right -- and adjust your strategies to compensate for his aggressive tactics. 

Oh Look... A Deal! Quick, Grab It!

Wait! Calm down, don't grab the first deal you see. Remember that time-honored advice your parents gave you about not spending all your money at once on the first shiny toy you saw? This is true for games, as well. Particularly in the case of outlets like Steam, prices can drop even further over the course of a sale as providers attempt to reach their sales goals. Waiting just two days can often drastically reduce your costs. And, if you fear the sale ending before the end of the sale itself (or losing your great discount), have no fear - within the scope of a single sale period, prices generally don't rise in the same manner as they can drop. So have patience, Gamer-san. Take advantage of their Daily Deals and Flash Sales to gain even better discounts.

But I Really Do Like the Bundle!

Okay, bundles aren't always bad. Sometimes, they can result in incredible deals across the board for several different games you enjoy. If a bundle pops up that you love--go for it. But be wary of rationalizing based on quantity. Seven bad games and three good ones still isn't much of a deal, unless the total price is less than you would have paid for the three you love. In the case of the much-loved Humble Bundle, chipping in is for a great cause, so it's easier to justify. Humble bundles are almost always supremely affordable, too.

But I can Download It!

Stop! In the name of sound gamer spending! Seriously, your sense of but-I-want-it-right-now is telling you lies. Stop the insanity! Check local hard copies within retail shops before buying online for convenience. Convenience is a justifiable reason to purchase online in many cases, but in others, it's simple laziness (sorry, the truth hurts!).

Go Forth and Plunder

Young padawan, I think you're ready to venture out into the world. Go forth, and plunder Steam, Humble, Gamestop, and other valiant providers for worthwhile sales. Ready to browse what's on sale? 

Hey, psst. All images taken from Quickmemes, Weknowmemes, and Memecenter, or Icanhazcheeseburger. Header image from

Featured Correspondent

MandieM is a gamer girl with a double-life. In the day, she masquerades as TaskHeroGirl, a valiant freelance copywriter. At night, she turns back into the mild-mannered MandieM, gamer extraordinaire. She likes games that are packed full of great stories, filled with inspiration and meaning, or even just good, clean, silly fun. When she's not writing at GameSkinny or working, she's probably tucking into the newest Steam game or finding her way through some distant dimension.

Published Feb. 22nd 2014
  • Samuel Franklin
    Featured Contributor
    It's always a struggle to resist the sales, I've been struggling with some of the insane GOG sales right now. I like their approach to bundles though because you can unselect games from a bundle to lose some % of your discount but you aren't paying for games you don't want.
  • MandieM
    Featured Correspondent
    Yeah, I am terrible for spending way too much money ANYWAY. I also have a client that pays me via paypal/prepaid's a Hoooooooooooorible combination for when game sales come around LOL. I have really had to develop a sense of balance.

    I also think that for many of us, it was drilled into us growing up that we should take advantage of sales to save money. That's only partially true for all of the reasons outlined above. I'm sure most of us had adults in our lives that told us "Wait for it to go on sale" at some point. :)

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