In one week from today, the Steam Winter Sale is scheduled to begin, on December 22, around 1300 EST.
— Pavel Djundik (@thexpaw) December 14, 2020
While Valve does offer a heft of sale dates that focus on different genres and publishers throughout the year, the Winter and Summer sale are easily the two biggest dates that gamers consistently look forward to while their wallets attempt to hide.
To date, Valve prefers to keep sale events relatively straightforward in terms of expectations: expect massive sales on a large number of titles, a strange event that everyone can participate in, and expect to have complex discussions with your significant other regarding online spending habits.
Now might be a good time to supplement that Christmas wishlist with a Steam Card or five. It’s also a good time to address precisely how you want to tackle this sale: having a couple of rules in place will help ensure that what you are spending is done as wisely as possible, while still enjoying some old fashioned retail therapy. As more users are looking towards building their own PCs than ever, it might be wise to help the newer PC users in cutting a no-nonsense line through this coming Steam event.
Step One: The Backlog
Yes, it’s larger than it has any right to be, and at this point, it’s plausible that it’s growing a bit of moss as you’re hopping from fresh release to release with stars in your eyes and a bit of hype in the belly.
Take a solid look through your backlog and identify what you’re actually looking forward to playing, and what is existing in your backlog because you need to play it. Some titles are worth a quick shake and simply won’t be concluded for various reasons: stale gameplay loop that turns everything boring five hours in, bugs blocking progress, or it just doesn’t gel with you as a player.
It’s unfortunate, but if it isn’t your style, push it to the side for the sake of simply organizing your backlog. While you’re here, you might as well take note of which genres you tend to prefer and which genres are in your backlog.
If you prefer first-person shooters but have three strategies in your backlog, then you will likely benefit from avoiding picking up another strategy. Conversely, if you have multiple first-person shooters in your backlog, you shouldn’t stress too much as those tend to be a comfort pick when you aren’t feeling the brain too much.
Remember, if you are picking up a title this Winter sale, then you need to be able to play through it before the upcoming Steam Summer sale (around late June), as prices will likely drop further for older titles. It isn’t going anywhere unless it’s SiN.
Step Two: The Wishlist
Steam offers a wishlist feature that you should absolutely be cognizant of and more than comfortable stepping around the function. When the Winter sale begins, Steam traffic will suffocate from the sheer number of pings the platform is getting as everyone tries to look at the newest sales.
Having titles on your wishlist, properly prioritized, allows you to avoid diving through endless sale pages by hosting everything on your wishlist. You’ll be able to see every title you want to keep an eye on, how steep the discount is, and get it into your cart without ever leaving the Wishlist page.
Further, you’ll get emails any time anything on your wishlist goes on a sale, meaning you won’t even need to check Steam if you’re set for success.
Step Three: The Inventory
If you have any time spent already on Steam, you likely have things in your inventory (browse ‘username’ dropdown to the bottom for your inventory). These items can typically be sold for a couple of cents, and occasionally you’ll end up with a drop that can net you a full dollar or more.
Selling everything you’re not currently using will ensure that you can rake up some scratch for the upcoming sale; everything sold will be attributed to your Steam wallet which you can use for the upcoming sale. It’s slow work, but you’ll be surprised with how much money is just sitting in your digital pockets.
Step Four: The Patience
We’ve already explained that Steam is going to choke to death for an hour or three once the sale launches and the platform can intermittently drop the store throughout the sale depending on the popularity of the event.
Yet there are times when prices are misattributed to start a sale, and they get sussed out within a few hours. When this occurs, users are typically offered the difference between listed and intended (unless you managed to check out when it was lower than it should’ve been), but there’s no point in diving in early and dealing with the possible headache.
If you’ve properly sorted your Wishlist, checking in later in the evening after the sale has been well underway could bode well for your nerves. It’s not like the sales are suddenly going to disappear, right?