Steam’s Biggest (And Smallest) Discounts Are Going Away

Steam’s Biggest (And Smallest) Discounts Are Going Away
Image: Valve

At the end of March, Valve is making changes to the way studios and publishers can offer their games at a discount on Steam, which sounds like a minor administrative thing is also something the more financially-savvy Steam game purchasers among you might want to keep an eye on.

Published earlier this month, a backend blog post called Discount Rule Changes says that as of March 28, Valve will be “changing some rules for discounts”, with the main ones being a revised “discount cooldown” period and the removal of the ability for developers and publishers to “discount a product by more than 90% or less than 10%.”

While it’s easy to look at a move like the latter and feel like it’s a little unfair for users, every change being made is clearly being done to stop those responsible for a game’s pricing — and we’re talking everyone from the dodgiest little scam game to the biggest AAA publishers — from not only gaming Steam’s algorithm to make their releases more prominent, but also trick users into thinking a sale is bigger than it actually is by artificially inflating the original, pre-discount price.

The specifics of the changes are:

– You can run a launch discount, but once your launch discount ends, you cannot run any other discounts for 28 days.

– It is not possible to discount your product for 28 days following a price increase in any currency.

– Discounts cannot be run within 28 days of your prior discount, with the exception of Steam-wide seasonal events.

– Discounts for seasonal sale events cannot be run within 28 days of releasing your title, within 28 days from when your launch discount ends, or within 28 days of a price increase in any currency.

– You may not change your price while a promotion is live now or scheduled for the future.

– It is not possible to discount a product by more than 90% or less than 10%.

– Custom discounts cannot last longer than two weeks, or run for shorter than 1 day.

Will this actually work? Who knows! But it sure looks more robust on paper, at least.


  • Making it more difficult to combine a discount with a price increase seems like the best improvement for consumers.

  • This all sounds good to me, with one exception:

    “discount a product by more than 90% or less than 10%” means that you won’t be able to give your game away, right? So no more random freebies on Steam? (rare but happens.)

    • Depends on how it works of the back end… “free” maybe a different setting that just displays it as “100%” discount.

    • They could just set it to “free”, because how else would free to play games operate if they weren’t allowed to do it in some capacity?

    • Steam lets you filter reviews of a game by purchase type, and likely uses that information in deciding what to surface to users. If everyone who acquired the game through keys generated via the developer leaves positive reviews, and everyone who spent money on the game leaves a negative review, then that’s a pretty obvious sign of manipulation.

      A very steep discount (e.g. 99% for an hour) might offer a way to let the review bots purchase the game at a low cost, and better hide the paid reviews.

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