During the latest sale on the ever-popular Steam PC game platform, parent company Valve Software changed up the way Steam would offer discounts. No longer would the best discounts come by the way of short-term Flash and Daily Sales that last anything from two to 24 hours; instead, a single discount would be applied to all games and they would stick to that price for the duration of the sale.

Valve explained the change in a blog post which was captured by unofficial data collectors Steamdb:

As you already know, the format of discounts in this year’s Winter sale was a little different from past years. This year’s sale was centered (sic) around discounts that ran for the full length of the sale, rather than changing from day to day for featured titles. Our hypothesis was that this new format would be a better way to serve customers that may only be able to visit Steam once or twice during the 13-day event.

With the draw of checking every few hours to see if favourited titles would go on special taken away from the sale, a new hook was added. Customers that logged in every day could explore a list of games tailored for them (a feature called the Steam Discovery Queue), and doing so would give them a Trading Card. These cards can be sold for cash on Steam, turned into gems which have a variety of functions, or used to craft Badges which add XP to users’ “Steam Levels”.

Ultimately, Valve was tempting gamers to look at their wares in exchange for the opportunity to get credit for their games/Steam level. Very shrewd indeed.

Interestingly, the change resulted in people seeing and buying more games than in other sales, and Valve, publishers and (hopefully) game developers making more money.

Valve also provided graphs relating to customers viewing games and adding them to their wishlists. Unfortunately, the lack of concrete values on the graphs serves to illustrate the point rather than provide any actual data to mull over.

Steam-Winter-Sales

Here are at least some numbers taken from the announcement, attributed both to the normalising of discounts for the duration of the sale, as well as the presence of (and the not-so-subtle motivation to explore) the Discovery Queue:

  • 197% increase in the rate of wishlist additions during the sale
  • The games outside of the Top 500 in terms of revenue accounted for 35% of traffic
  • The percentage above is four times more than the previous Winter Sale

As is the norm for Valve, we don’t have a lot of solid figures to go off of, and we probably never will. In the meantime we’ll have to wait for the mid-year summer sales to see if the changes remain.

How did you respond to Steam’s new approach? Did you buy more this year than in previous sales? As always, let us know.

[Source – Steamdb, Image – Gamecrate]