Valve Changed The Winter Steam Sale, Says Everybody Wins

Valve Changed The Winter Steam Sale, Says Everybody Wins

As big and important as Steam is, we rarely get any kind of official word from Valve on how it’s doing or how it works. Today, that changed, if only a little.

The company accidentally (?) posted a developer message to a public Steam page (grabbed by SteamDB), and it claims that Valve’s decision to opt for constant discount prices for all games during the recent Winter sale (rather than swapping the discounted games each day) was a success.

Because of the change — and a decision to rotate the games being promoted on Steam’s splash pages — more customers looked at game pages, more customers added games to their wish lists, and there was “45% growth” in sales of games outside Steam’s Top 500 charts.

Or, as Valve says, “In short: More customers bought more games across more of the Steam catalogue.”

Good news for Valve, good news for developers (especially those for smaller titles), good news for fans. Well, except for the being broke part.


  • Because of the change — and a decision to rotate the games being promoted on Steam’s splash pages — more customers looked at game pages

    The only reason more customers looked at game pages was because Valve linked getting trading cards to it, of course it’s going to increase, especially when scripts are then made which go through the pages and get the card for you

        • The queue is recommended game based on your library. It’s not going through lists of games you won’t be interested in. The queue has existed for such a long time and the recommendations are pretty accurate.

          • The sale went on for about 2 weeks, and each day you could earn trading cards for browsing through 3 queues of 12 recommended games, or about 500 games over the course of the sale.

            Even if you already used the recommendations system, this could have exposed you to more games than you might otherwise have considered.

          • Nope, it told me they were showing me X game because it was popular or Y game because it had a high Metacritic rating, and they were 70% of the time like nothing I ever play.

            Plus, I ran through the queues on a few alts I had (those foil cards were nifty!) and got basically the same queues – these alts have 2 or 3 games on them, tops.

          • The queue often tells you why it’s showing you a game. Some it will show you because you played similar games, but in the case of my queues it’s almost always ‘because this game is popular’ or because it had high review scores.

            It’d be nice if you could tune it to only show games that you own/play/wishlist/review favourably/don’t click ‘not interested’ for that genre every single time, though. That way I could stop seeing pages for sports games and racing games.

    • Yes, there was a carrot on a stick, but take in account that they measure by games bought or added to a wishlist. By their successful recount, they got more of that. I know that I added a ton of games to my wishlist while going through my queue to get the cards.

    • No shit. But sales were also up. Meaning people that clicked through and looked at the games sometimes purchased them! I know I did at least.

  • This sale was the most boring one yet, combined with the shitty exchange rate and already inflated prices there weren’t any decent deals.

    • I dunno.. I paid $39 for Far Cry 4 wLimited Edtion with Season pass. EB Games wanted $36 for just the Limited Edition which doesn’t include any DLC..

        • That doesn’t come with all the DLC though, it’s only one DLC pack from the blurb on EB’s website. So I feel for $3 getting the DLC, Season Pass & a Steam version was the better deal 😛

      • Think its $40 on the PS strore to ATM.
        Are steam sales getting worse or PS Store getting better?

        • Honestly, I think it’s both.. I was hoping to pick up a Steam version of GTA V, it got down to $45 USD which was about $65 AUD, I paid that much for the physical version on release from EB Games. I really thought a game that had been out for already 8 months on PC would’ve been cheaper, especially since it came out more than 2 years ago on console. Maybe the next sales I can pick it up cheap.

  • (T)here was “45% growth” in sales of games outside Steam’s Top 500 charts.
    That’s the interesting part for me, where the sale became less about promoting the big names of the year and essentially forced users to consider alternatives.

  • Actually the only reason there was an increase in pages viewed was we at /r/steamsalesdetectives were running bruteforce bots through every single game in the steam catalogue, kinda puts a bit of a spin on the results when 2000 people all running 1-5 bots each are visiting every steam game page every minute…

    • I’m sure you guys made the needle jump a little, but I’m pretty confident the 2000 users viewing every single page ever probably didn’t have as much broad impact as literally millions of users making more use of the queue system.

      • From memory there were 47 million page requests from the bot in the first 3 days alone so id say we made the needle jump quite a bit

        • I’m sure all those brute-force bots were the critical factor behind the staggeringly-high resultant/correlating follow-through sales, too! 😀 Bless those prodigal sleuths, true patrons of the gamedev industry.

        • I’ll put it another way:

          If you are an indie game dev and you experience 45% increased sales compared to previous sales, do you think it is likely to be from:

          A) the 2000 users who visited your page in sequence through bots for brute-forcing the ARG
          B) the 12 million users who visited your page as part of their queue?

          I’m assuming the bots didn’t add games to their wishlists as part of their process, but who knows… maybe they did! Maybe they also changed their IP address for every X page requests to avoid being flagged as a piss-weak DDoS of the kind that Valve reckons they experience and circumvent as a matter of routine.

          Or at least bots were changing their IP every X page requests, so that those views could distort actual ‘shopping user’ data when taken into consideration by Valve’s analytics people, who certainly wouldn’t notice blips on the radar and try to figure out what cause them (because it’s not like that’s their job or anything) and who might not have taken into consideration the impact of the ARG that their own people were running, when coming up with user behaviour analysis.

          That’s some pretty hefty suspension of disbelief required to actually believe that ARG participants are solely responsible for the increased view+wishlist traffic that Valve have observed, to the point that Valve’s data analysts have become so bad at their job that they drew incorrect conclusions about sales data, then provided those incorrect conclusions to devs.

          But I guess that’s what confirmation bias does to you.

  • Yeah I added some stuff to my Wishlist iduring the pursuit to get trading cards and craft a badge – mostly indie stuff. I hopefully prevented a lot of the shite from getting regurgitated into further lists too..

  • I only wish there was a way to exclude Early Access titles from the Discovery list. There were a handful of titles that looked good and I was ready to buy, until I realised they were Early Access titles and I was being sold a promise and a prayer.

    • There was a way to do that. I think it might run off the same as the main banner image. If you click the little customise hover in the top right you should be able to do that

  • I ended up spending more during this sale and picking up more games than I have on all other sales I’ve ever been a part of combined. I’d say that’s a success (on their part anyway).

    I really liked this structure. It was good to not have to trawl through the savings every 8 hours, not knowing if you should buy something or not because you aren’t sure if it’s going to be even cheaper the next day. Plus, the way they gave you 30-40 games in the 3 queues kind of deal was fantastic – got to just flip through them, checked out an insane variety of games (some of which I would not have ever found if it wasn’t for this) and was done within 15 mins. Ended up adding 20+ games to the pile, but hey, they look cool!

  • I wonder if they took into account the Brute forcing that we were using for the ARG! as it was trying every page on steam for each password tried.

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