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Steam Winter Sale - How to get the most out of PC gaming's biggest sale

Steam Winter Sale.jpg

As predicted, the Steam Winter Sale kicked off yesterday evening, and we're here to save you money while buying the best games on sale. Yes, it is the biggest PC gaming sale of the year with over 9000 games on special. Valve changed things around since 2014's Winter Sale, so you can't use any of the old tricks. So, here is how you can get the most out of 2015's Steam Winter Sale, including changes to the sale structure, a way to buy a couple of games even if you are completely broke, and a list of our top 20 deals you should take a look at.   

Changes to Steam sales

Valve has recently done away with the daily deals, flash sales, encore sales as well as an option to vote for the next game up for sale. Therefore, our previous guides for how to survive a Steam sale are outdated and won’t help you survive the festive season’s big PC gaming sale.

Valve explains changes to the Steam sale structure:

“We'll still be highlighting your top games on the front page for 24-48 hour spans, but those products will stay at their most competitive discount, before and after being featured. It's not a major change, but it does make the sale a lot more valuable for customers, and it allows us to build sale features that recommend your product all sale long, instead of just during its front page feature.

For a brand new release, if you can't get approval for your best discount for the full length of the sale, that's OK and we can work on a plan for that game. But the vast majority of your catalog should be running its best discount for the duration of the sale." - Source

Some users don’t like the change to Steam sales. For example, Kotaku’s Nathan Grayson thinks “Steam sales are getting kinda boring” Although daily deals and flash sales was an exciting tradition during a big Steam sale, the great thing about the new sales structure is that you get all the deals up front and you have eight days to shop and plan without rushing into anything. Due to the changes, there is no real need for a “survival guide”, but I still have some tips for you to buy some amazing games without spending “real money”.

Tips to buy games even if you are broke

If you’ve already bought all your Christmas gifts this holiday season and can’t spend any more money on games but the Steam Winter sale deals are just too good to pass up on, you might want to consider these two tips.

1. Sell trading cards:

During the Winter Sale, there are 11 new cards to collect by exploring your discovery queue. Each day you can collect three cards by going through a new queue, which takes roughly two minutes. You can either build a Winter Sale badge to level up your Steam account or you can sell these cards on the Marketplace for around R2 each. Further, you might have a few games in your Steam Library that you have never played. Most of these games will have trading card drops remaining.

If you want to supplement the Winter Sale trading card income, you can download a small game and let it run in the background until all card drops are finished. For example, I installed Bit Trip Beat and let it run in the background for a couple of hours. The four card drops from the small indie game sold for R18 in total. Selling trading cards will net you enough money to buy one heavily discounted game you are itching to play. With the current prices of the Winter Sale trading cards, you can buy a game worth just under R100. However, there is one additional way to potentially buy a ton of games just by using the Steam marketplace.

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2. Know the worth of your Steam inventory:

If you’ve spent hundreds or even thousands of hours in CS:GO or Dota 2, you might be sitting on a virtual goldmine of cosmetic items you can sell and buy 10, maybe even 20 big titles during the Winter Sale discount.

In Dota 2, you get random item drops when completing a game. Further, if you purchased the Compendium and levelled it up, you also have access to a bunch of Immortal items / treasures. Seeing as all the items in Dota 2 is purely cosmetic, you could sell some or all of your items (especially those you don’t use on your heroes or items of heroes you never play) on the Steam Marketplace, with the funds going directly into your Steam Wallet for use. Dota 2 items go from a measly R0.20 to a whopping R2271 for Pudge’s Dragonclaw Hook item. Arcana items go for roughly R400 each and Immortal Treasure items from The International 2015 sell for between R25 and R50.

CS:GO also range from a very low to high price point. It is important to note that most of the expensive items can only be found by opening cases, which you might have done a lot in the past if you are an avid CS:GO player. The latest CS:GO Revolver case sells for R5, while some rare items (that you might not even use or know the worth of) sell for an extreme amount of money. For example, the M9 Bayonet | Fade (Factory New) sells for R5013 at the time of writing. You should know the worth of your Steam inventory.

I can not stress this point enough. You might have even stopped playing Dota 2 or CS:GO for good and could be sitting on a virtual goldmine of cosmetic items you can sell and purchase a massive amount of games.

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Top 20 deals of the Steam Winter Sale

Steam has 9079 games on sale right now. Here is my top 20 list of deals during the Steam Winter Sale, complete with the percentage discounted and our review of the game where applicable.

  1. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - R294.50 (50% discount) – Read our Review P1 and P2.
  2. Wolfenstein: The New Order - R88.35 (85% discount) - Read our Review
  3. Rocket League - R153.30 (50% discount)  
  4. The Evil Within - R88.35 (85% discount) – Read our Review
  5. Skyrim - Legendary Edition - R102.25 (75% discount) - Read our Review
  6. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive - R79.50 (50% discount)
  7. Just Cause 3 – R399.20 (20% discount) – Read our Review
  8. Call of Duty: Black Ops III – R599.25 (25% discount) - Read our SP and MP Reviews
  9. Far Cry Franchise Pack – R499.50 (50% discount) – Read our FC4 Review
  10. Stasis – R149.40 (40% discount) – Read our Review
  11. Wolfenstein: Old Blood - R109.50 (50% discount)
  12. Grand Theft Auto V - R479.40 (40% discount) – Read our Review
  13. Mad Max - R200.26 (66% discount) – Read our Review
  14. Dying Light - R237.98 (66% discount) – Read our Review
  15. Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin - R229.90 (62% discount)
  16. MGSV: The Phantom Pain - R394.63 (33% discount) – Read our Review
  17. Ori and the Blind Forest - R131.40 (40% discount) – Read our Review
  18. The Long Dark - R109.50 (50% discount)
  19. Bioshock Infinite - R79.75 (75% discount) – Read our Review
  20. The Talos Principle - R102.25 (75% discount)  

Fallout 4, the game our readers voted as the Game of the Year, is not on sale. However, there are still literally thousands of great titles to purchase. Keep in mind that the sale ends on 4 January 2016, so you have enough time to decide which games you want to purchase.

What deals will you be buying during the Steam Winter sale? Do you plan on cleaning out a bit of your unwanted cosmetic items to take advantage of the amazing deals available right now? Let us know in the comment section below.  

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