Why Steam Sales Might Actually Be A Bad Thing

Why Steam Sales Might Actually Be A Bad Thing

For PC players, it's often almost impossible to get away from Steam sales. Aside from the major sales Valve's content delivery service offers five times a year, there are publisher sales. Bundles. Weekly specials. Deals-of-the-day. It's so bad that there are jokes over people's miles-long library backlogs. Anecdotally, whenever a huge sale happens Twitter feeds overflow with tweets lamenting how broke everyone is because they just bought 1000 games for a dollar each.

But amidst all these ridiculously cheap games, no one really thinks about just the kind of impact that can have. Jason Rohrer, fringe developer of games like Passage and Diamond Trust of London, has written a new post on his blog that argues how a culture of sales may actually be a bad thing.

"Sales screw your fans. Your fans love your games and eagerly await your next release. They want to get your game as soon as it comes out, at full price," Rohrer said. "But they are foolish to do that, because a sale is right around the corner...It makes more sense to wait, unless they love you and your work so much that they're willing to throw economic reason out the window."

There are some major problems with a trend like this, even beyond forcing developers to sell their games at perhaps somewhat untenable discounts. If fans come to expect everything to instantly be on sale, it skews perception over what developers and publishers actually need to charge in order for a game to be successful.

At the same time, it facilitates a trend towards digital hoarding – stockpiling games you bought on impulse that maybe you were never interested in or will otherwise never get around to playing. As great as games can be, there are other things in the world to experience; maybe the idea of having any backlog that extensive isn't healthy.

"But even if there are enough people [buying random games], it's not a good thing," Rohrer said. "It's just people being tricked into wasting money on stuff they don't want or need. Better that they spent that money on one full-price game that they really want rather than four 75%-off impulse buys to add to their backlog."

Rohrer has stopped involving himself in putting his own games up for sale, and acknowledges the pressure that developers face if they want players to actually buy their games. It's an issue that hopefully more developers – and players – will stop buying into, or at the very least at least consider the consequences of their actions. 

Read Rohrer's entire post via the link below.

Via The Castle Doctrine / Edge

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