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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Holiday Sale Survival Guide

No, Steam, no!
I have no idea where this originated, but it's hilariously accurate.

It's not officially Christmas until I've been saddled with feelings of shame and guilt after adding a dozen games to my already gigantic backlog. Amazon, Valve - why must you tempt me so?

If you're at all concerned about being able to afford food in January, you might want to take a look at the following tips.

1. Use resources like /r/GameDeals and to find the best deals.

While Steam might be the "Granddaddy of Them All" when it comes to offering games at stupid prices during the holidays, there's a lot of other stuff going on elsewhere on the Internet. Sites like Amazon and Green Man Gaming have been offering deals on par with - and occasionally better than - those of Valve's service. Plus, with Origin and Uplay on the prowl, it's increasingly common (albeit somewhat annoying) to find games that simply aren't offered on Steam.

Bottom line - it pays to look around, and using some kind of deal aggregator makes everything super easy. Sites like the aforementioned and can also give you an idea of the pricing trends for a given game and whether or not it's been cheaper in the past.

2. Don't buy anything from Steam that isn't a "daily deal" until the last day.

It's the first day of the sale, and holy shit, that game you've been waiting to play is 33% off!

Don't touch it. While that deal might look great now, there's a decent chance it could be 66% or 75% off some time in the near future. When in doubt, wait until the end to snatch up whatever games didn't get featured.

3. Show some restraint.

From a value standpoint, a $5 game that offers 5 or 10 hours of entertainment is pretty damn enticing. Hey, a 2-hour movie costs like $37 to see nowadays, right? After picking up every game under $10 that has a decent Metacritic score you'll probably realize that you have enough games in your backlog to last you until 2017. That is, if the world doesn't end on Friday...

Track your purchases and keep a running total going so that you're aware of how much you're spending. I usually try to limit myself to $50-ish, which could easily end up being half a dozen games (or more) since I'm a cheap bastard who waits to buy everything until it's in the bargain bin.

4. Set up a wishlist with price targets.

Make a list of games you're interested in and nail down a target price for each one. Stick to your guns and try not to go overboard. I have about 30 untouched "indie" games in my Steam library that say impulse buys are a bad idea.

These sales tend to repeat themselves every so often - spring sales, summer sales, fall sales, Thanksgiving sales, "hey, we want your money" sales, and so on. If you're paranoid or just like to stay organized you can set up a wishlist with target prices on and get notified by email when something crosses that "too good to miss" threshold.

This stuff isn't exactly rocket science, but following these tips will help you stretch your dollar that much further. Your wallet will thank you.

Happy shopping, and Happy Holidays!


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