Steam's annual Summer Sale is rumored to start today, but before you go and empty your wallet, here are some helpful tips to make sure you get the most for your money and catch the titles you really want.

If you're not familiar with Steam's regular sales, the summer sale is usually around mid July and can net gamers huge discounts on popular titles released during the first half of the year—and the first half of this year has been particularly awesome. Even popular, best-selling, and newly released titles can see huge discounts, on the order of 75% to 90% off in some cases. Those discounts are hard to resist, but there's a method to Steam's madness. Here's how to get the games you want for as little as possible.

Wishlist Feature

One of Steam's best features is that they'll send you an email alert when a game on your wishlist goes on sale. It's both a blessing and a curse—you'll be able to jump right on that sale, but you also may jump on a sale that's a little premature. We'll get to how to tell when your favorite game is discounted as deep as it's going to get in a second, but for the time being, go ahead and load up your wishlist with titles you've been meaning to check out. That way you'll at least be notified, and you won't miss them.
Know Your Steam Sale Types

Each steam sale has four different types of discounts going on at the same time:

The broad, store-wide discount that any game not released in the past six months gets. This discount is usually anywhere between 25% to 75%.

  • Daily deals, where selected games are on sale for 24-48 hours. These discounts are generally a bit steeper, but still in the 50-75% range. These are the deals you get to sleep on if you want to.
  • Flash sales, where selected games are on sale for 12-14 hours. These are the ones you may have thought were daily deals and wound up missing. Sucks, doesn't it? Discount levels are the same, but the clock runs out faster.
  • Community deals, where Steam users vote for one of three games to get a discount. These deals last about a day, and you can weigh in on which one you want. The result is up to the community, but it's usually the biggest title or the steepest discount that wins.

When to Buy, and When to Skip

Don't buy a game unless it's a daily deal or a flash sale. You may be tempted by one of the general store discounts, but don't do it. Those titles will likely go further on sale somewhere before the end of the week, and you'll miss out on a deeper discount. If your favorite game doesn't go on a daily deal or a flash sale before the end of the sale, you can pick it up on the last day at the same discount that it got on the first day—you'll just know that's as good as it's going to get.

If you miss your favorite game as a daily deal or flash sale, do not buy it anyway. The last day of the Steam Sale is almost always an Encore Sale, where the most popular daily deals and flash sales come back at the same discounts. That's when you get to buy whatever you missed—or whatever else you may want.

This thread at GameFAQs sums up these rules pretty clearly, and some of the other posters there offer a few more points to consider when shopping Steam sales, but these are the big two takeaways.
The Exception: Buy Bundles Any Time You Want

Publisher bundles

Publisher bundles are almost always ridiculously deep discounts. If you're looking at an Activision bundle or a Eidos bundle and wondering if those prices will get any better, stop wondering and just buy it. The side effect is that you wind up with a bunch of games you may not want to play, but if everything in the bundle interests you, it can be a fantastic discount for a ton of games.

Before you buy any game on sale, make sure to check a publisher bundle to see if the game is discounted in the bundle as well. You never know, it may be a steeper discount in the bundle than it is on its own. It's not terribly likely, but you should always check first. While you're at it, check DLC (Downloadable Content) prices. Sometimes a title you want has a ton of DLC that's also on sale too for as little as $1, and it's worth buying them all together.
How to Know When You're Getting the Biggest Discount

Daily deals and flash sales offer the deepest discounts Steam will offer. That means if you see Bioshock Infinite for sale for 60% off as a flash sale, even if it comes back, you won't get it any cheaper than that. You probably won't see that though—as the Scientific Gamer notes, new games that have been recently released will usually only get a 25%-40% cut. Grab it if you really really want it, but deeper discounts will come in the next few months. 50%-66% off are modest discounts, worth jumping on if you want the title or have been meaning to pick it up, and if the title is an Indie or a cheap game anyway, go for it. You run the risk of seeing a steeper discount after the sale is over, but probably not. Anything discounted 75% or more is the cheapest you'll ever see it on Steam. Go for it.
Use Technology to Help You

If you don't want to be bothered with emails from Steam, check out the Steam mobile apps for Android and iOS. You can keep track on the sales anywhere you go, and if there's a flash sale, you'll be able to check the prices from your smartphone.

Use Enhanced Steam

Similarly, check out Enhanced Steam for Chrome and Firefox. The extension gives you full price histories for the games you browse, helps you avoid buying DLC you already own, notifies you when a game you're looking at has third-party DRM (worthwhile for finding out if a game requires Games for Windows Live or Ubisoft's UPlay before you buy it and find out), and shows you how much you're really saving on a bundle purchase. If you haven't tried it, it's worth installing.

Finally, if you use Steam Wallet to make your purchases, load it up ahead of time. You don't want to get stuck in the last moments of a sale trying to add funds and then process a sale only to be denied because the transactions are taking too long. For more suggestions, check out this post over at GHacks.

With these tips, you won't buy a game only to find it's a daily deal and thus a steeper discount later in the week, and you won't miss a sale hoping it'll come back at some point later on only to find out it never does. Keep an eye out for your favorite titles, make your wishlist in advance, set a budget for yourself (seriously, otherwise you will empty your wallet), and have fun. Then spend some time actually playing through your backlog so you can get to the games you just bought.

Source : by Alan Henry

4 years ago*

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Nice but a little formatting would make this easier to read IMO.

4 years ago
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Done

4 years ago
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good guide, thanks for sharing

4 years ago
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I already know all of this, but thank you.

4 years ago
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will read this later

4 years ago
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I only skimmed it, since I mostly understand how the sales work, but it appears to be a great read for anyone confused on the subject. +1

4 years ago
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There're also hidden sales. Some games will have discount, but will not be shown in discount list.

4 years ago
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http://www.steamgamesales.com/ for such hidden sales ;)

4 years ago
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Excellent cliffs for Summer Sale neophytes

4 years ago
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So, everything as usual

4 years ago
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Nice newbie guide. Thanks for sharing.

4 years ago
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Not by me, the guy in the source called Alan Henry wrote this, I just wanted to share it here

4 years ago
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Thanks for sharing then :p

4 years ago
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Welcome

4 years ago
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Ah ok. Didn't see the reference.

4 years ago
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Thank you helped me a lot :)

4 years ago
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thank you btw where can i find this enhanced steam?

4 years ago
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4 years ago
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Mostly common sense things. Still nice for those who are new to it all.

Think I remember seeing a post like the one you mentioned a long,long time ago on the forums for steam. ( Not word for word mind you )

4 years ago
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and remember 'new' games don't get big discounts/ will probably not end up in a flash sale

4 years ago
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Eww Gawker.

4 years ago
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How do you know this sale will be like last ones? With community voting etc?

4 years ago
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1st: Panic.
2nd: buy the first thing you see
3rd: repeat until you are out of money
4th: ????
5th: proffit

4 years ago
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hahahaha

4 years ago
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6th: regret when the game is bundles.

4 years ago
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TL:DR.

4 years ago
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So you don't need any tips on the summer sale. Nice :)

Nice find and thanks for sharing Saiyan6. I read a similar article/thread in here yesterday on the same note. Basically it covered most of the points here. Can't find it right now to link it to you and the others.

4 years ago
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just buy flash and daily deals or on the last day if the game you wanted wasnt a flash/daily deal :P

4 years ago
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^ this sums it up perfectly.

4 years ago
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Hmm...I should indeed add more things to my wishlist I guess

4 years ago
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Thanks for the info. Though I've found everything my myself some years ago already. :)

4 years ago
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Thank you for sharing!

4 years ago
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I don't care Steam Summer Sale. -75% euro prices it's still "poor" discount with my currency exchange rates.

4 years ago
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+INFINITY

Like this Alice game. 50 fuckin euros, so during the awesome 75% sale, it's something like 14-ish euro soo cooool wow. SO, I went to trade, and got it for 2 keys + cards from a brazilian trader.

EUROPE, home of the most expensive games on the whole world.

4 years ago
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You also get paid in euros though, Soo...

4 years ago
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Yeah bro, you totally got my point. :) I don't think, we are even getting paid better then the americans, ... ;

but a 20 dollar game in europe costs 50 euros, totally legit and understandable.

4 years ago
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People need guides for a sale now?

4 years ago
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These are generally good tips, and I think I learned them before last year's summer sale. As for people needing a guide to sales, yes, for people new to Steam (like I was last year), this is helpful. If you're not familiar with the way Steam generally runs their big sales, you could end up regretting buying games early because they were say 50% off because you didn't wait until they were daily deals or flash sales for say 75% off. So a guide like this that explains things to newer gamers is useful, I think.

4 years ago
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TLDR version:

Buy only games on 75% sale (min 66%, even if you really want the game) or more. Possible bundles or packs (if you want most of the games included). And ofc, keep your wishlist updated. #commonsense #don'tfuckinspendallyourmoney

4 years ago
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That's like, my one rule.

4 years ago
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I think I would miss the Summer Sale if I started reading this.

4 years ago
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Good guide. Thanks

4 years ago
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Closed 4 years ago by Saiyan6.