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Editor's Corner: Managing Steam Purchases Has Gotten Easier

Posted on Tuesday, June 24 @ 17:00:00 PST by

Valve's now annual Steam Summer Sale continues all week and while I've splurged and bought a dozen or more games in the past, I've actually only made one purchase so far this year. How do I do it?

I shared my primary method of controlling the impulse buys that happen when games go all-digital with Nick recently and he's testing out my theory. I think it's a surefire way to control your spending while also picking up a few really great deals and a handful of games you might get a ton of entertainment out of. Here's the trick:
  1. ​Take console games you're not playing any more and trade them in at GameStop or sell them via your preferred second-hand marketplace, like eBay. Third party console games make the best fodder for this step because you might actually get the digital release on Steam for much cheaper than you paid for the original game. If you're totally obsessive about your gaming collection, then you only want to sell off third-party games. Keep the exclusives or games you've beaten and still have the save file for.
  2. Take the credit, either at GameStop or in your Paypal account, and buy a Steam gift card. Turn the cash you got from selling or trading games and turn it into nothing but money for Steam. This is all you'll have for the duration of the sale, so make sure you've got enough. If you know you're going to want to buy a lot of games, make sure to get a $50 Steam card. If you've already got a bunch of games on Steam that you haven't played (and you know you do), then just pick up a $25 gift card. Even armed with just $25, you'll be able to buy plenty of games.
  3. Don't buy anything over $10. I've said before that I never buy a game during the sale if it isn't at or below $5. If you think about it, a single $10 game takes up a fifth of your $50 in credit or over a third of your $25 in credit. I think $5 quickly becomes the sweet spot because most $5 games during the sale remain quality, possibly must-play titles while many others above that price will eventually fall in subsequent sales.
  4. I know I said I don't buy games over $5, but I did buy The Stanley Parable at about $6 on the first day of the sale. Why did I do this? For the most part, Steam Sales are only good if you're going to play the games you buy and loading up on a bunch of software you'll never use can feel like a betrayal to the very nature of gaming. It's not like you have those boxes on your shelf and it's not like you can flip through the instruction booklet, right? Play the games you buy!
Another way to manage Steam Sale purchases? Don't look at the store! Set your Steam client to launch into your library, turn off notifications so you can't see when your friends launch into new games, and generally play the games you've never even installed, much less the new ones you bought in the last big Steam Sale.

How are you managing your purchases? Have you bought any games this year? What's the damage been to your Steam wallet thus far? Share with us in the comments.

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