Digital Salad’s Guide To Surviving The Digital Sales

It’s that time of the year where sale fever takes over everything. It’s quite a new thing for me, living in the UK, we didn’t used to have massive sales at this time of year in the shops. These days though, the UK has our own smaller version of Black Friday, closely followed by Cyber Monday.

Video games are bought more online than in shops, and most of these games are bought on American sites such as Amazon or through American company Steam. These online platforms shower us, the humble gaming customers, with American style Black Friday deals in early December wherever we are in the world. So I wanted to have a look into these mega sales and see what I found.


So, its December 2013 and the Steam Autumn Sale has just finished, following hot on the heals of online shopping’s Black Friday bonanza of deals. I’m still pretty new to sales at this time of year and to the idea of online sales, so I thought this year I’d have a look into just whats on offer, how its on offer and whether the Digital Salad will be drawn in by any of the tempting deals out there. I’m going to have a look at two deals in particular, the Steam Autumn Sale 2013 (Nov 27-Dec 3) and the Guild Wars 2 Gem Store Sale 2013 (Nov 29 – Dec 2).


The Steam Sales are pretty legendary, even I as a relative newbie to online gaming sales have heard of the Steam sales and looked at the before.

Every so often the company does a sales week, where every day there are huge savings on a massive range of games – different ones every day. As an example, today there’s 50% Call of Duty:Black Ops 2, 50% of Europa Universalis 4, 80% off the most recent Tomb Raider and 75% off RPG Dust as well as a whole range of other deals including some hidden indie gems that get a well deserved moment in the spotlight with the deal advert.

On top of the Daily Deals Steam also put on Flash Deals every 8 hours for games of all sorts, but generally ones which aren’t big sellers. You’ll find lots of indie gems in this section as well as some old classics at very cheap prices.


So, there’s big reductions on the RRP and lots of variety, its easy to see why the Steam Sales are so well known and so popular. On a personal level I can attest that they’re very tempting as well. Whenever you play a game on steam there will be an advert pop up when you close the game and display the sales of the day. I almost always find myself clicking to check out the store from these ads. I have been tempted many times, although only ever once given in to the strong temptation.

In fact, the temptation is so strong that I’ve often found rationality to go out of the window a bit. When looking at the deals you see the 75% label and you assume that it is by far the cheapest you will possibly ever find that game, maybe ever. I’ve found myself almost buying games on sale on steam without checking the price on Amazon or Ebay, etc. Yet, you are already on the internet to be browsing the Steam Sale, so to window shop else where to check the price is only a couple of clicks away, there’s no reason not to! Yet, I find myself so tempted that I often forget to.


Its interesting when you do check though, for instance RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 was on sale on Steam over the weekend, a classic game that tempted me greatly – especially with the big 50% off label plastered all over it. I almost bought it without checking elsewhere, assuming that 50% off meant it was ludicrously cheap in comparison to elsewhere. Of course, I’d fallen into the typical Sale trap, that the 50% off is on the RRP, meaning that it was on sale for £7.49, which was still more expensive that the cheapest copies on Amazon for around £5.

In real life I do find myself very critical of sales offers, I can see through the shine and the ploy of reducing it from its RRP rather than what it was originally being sold for. Yet, somehow Steam bypasses those defenses and taps straight into my brain, making me want to part with my pennies almost entirely irrationally. Kudos to Steam for some awesome marketing with their sales.

Often there is good deals on the Steam Sale, for instance the 50% off COD:BO2 today is a good price, but you can pick up a used console version of the same game for another 25% less – and that’s without shopping around much. Just make sure you shop around, there’s no reason not to!

Guild Wars 2: Black Lion Trading Post

The Gem Store on Guild Wars decided to do a Black Friday weekend sale this year, which I wanted to include because its a sale within a game rather than a sale of a game.


The Gem Store sale followed very much the same pattern as the Steam Sale, with a daily deal once a day of three items on a big reduction.

The thing that struck me particularly about the Guild Wars Sale was the items on sale. There were a few popular armour skins on offer, such as Braham’s heavy armour skin for 35% off, but the majority of the deals were on trinket type things such as Mystic Forge Stones, Black Lion Keys and Bank Tab Expansions.


The thing about many of these things is that they still aren’t good value for money.

20% off a Bank Tab Expansion, given the gem price still makes it one of the most expensive ways to bump up your storage space. Your best bet for increasing storage space is to get a Guild Bank first and then invest in some bigger bags before, both of which are much cheaper than a Bank Tab Expansion even on special offer.


Its the same message with any sale really, make sure you know what you’re buying. Don’t buy something in a sale without knowing its value, as far as original price (not RRP!) goes, but also its value to you (will you actually use it?/is there a cheaper alternative that would work for me?).

There are some great deals out there in online gaming sales, so do have a look at them. Just make sure to shop around, there’s no excuse!

The main point is time, steam will give you the game instantly following its download – but if you think you’d forget about the game before it arrives in the post 2/3 days later (or more like 2/3 weeks with my current post service!) then you don’t want the game as much as you thought you did. That’s a good test to see if you really want it, because you can often find yourself buying games you don’t really want and will only play for a handful of hours just because it was 75% off on Steam.


Digital Salad –


2 thoughts on “Digital Salad’s Guide To Surviving The Digital Sales

  1. C. T. Murphy December 5, 2013 / 12:44 am

    Yeah, I have to be really careful. My Steam Library is massive and doesn’t need to grow. I have had it since one, so I have seen every sale. Over time, my ability to resist has increased. Kinda.

  2. Jeromai December 5, 2013 / 1:12 am

    There’s a website called Is There Any Deal ( that can help with price comparisons, especially when you’re not sure if that 75% off is tagged on a retail price that’s purposefully higher than normal.

    I watch Steam a lot, and over time, one gets used to knowing the average price of some games, and which games tend to go for $4.99 during a daily deal but suddenly rise up to $7.49 while still being labeled 75-80% off.

    One thing I find helps is to set an absolute price for yourself. “I will buy this when it goes below $5.” Then just wait patiently. Steam prices things to catch the long tail. Over time (and video games drop very quickly, 1-2 years at most), the price will hit your target.

    I buy a ton of games that are $5 and below, racking up a massive library in the process, and for me, it’s worth it even if I only play each a couple hours or less. It matches my dabbling playstyle far better than paying full price for a just released game and feeling obliged to play it through to completion for 20-30 hours.

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