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Steam sales have taken on a semi-mythical quality despite happening several times a year.

Steam is the name of the distribution platform for Valve, arguably the single largest force in the multibillion dollar industry of PC gaming. The business model is pretty simple, distribute games through the medium of the internet and reap huge profit thereby. As a content management system Steam works really well because it not only provides a one stop shop for PC games but also automatically backs up save files meaning that anybody can in principle use any computer with internet access and a hard drive can log on to their personal account and start downloading and playing their games with their saves.

If that was all Steam was it would still be popular but not legendary. Steam is known for its sales. It has dozens of sales, sales for every holiday, sales every week end, sales on older games when a new title is added to the franchise, sales every day. And these aren't pitiful ten to twenty percent off sales, no on Steam it's -30%, -40%, -50%, -66%, -75%, and -85%. Not just for games that sell poorly either but the good stuff too. Smart shoppers buy all of their games during Steam sales.

There was a time when I wondered what the logic of having most games drop in price by half once or more times a year but it seems like less of a mystery as time passes. Steam probably costs a few million to run and pulls in about five hundred times that but it's reliant on holding peoples attention. The best way of doing that is habituation. Steam sales will get you to buy games that you'll never play and still feel good about the purchase because it cost less than a bottle of coke. I don't understand it because at least you get to drink the coke but it's happened to me enough times that I've come to accept it. The risk to reward ratio is so lopsided it doesn't matter if you aren't getting anything you want.


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