Every Steam Sale Makes Me More Depressed (2024)

Highlights

  • Steam sales have amazing discounts, and that's a problem.
  • Suddenly, games I was never interested in are must-haves because of that juicy discount.
  • ...And the games I do want are unappealing because they're still full-price.

Folks, I don’t know what to do anymore. I used to love Steam sales. Every few months, we’d find out that soon there would be bargains beyond imagination. We all rub our hands like it’s dinner time, excited to potentially knock off a couple games on our wishlist - or maybe find some discounted hidden gems. Hell, with the Steam Deck, it’s even easier to poke around people’s recommendations and find something interesting. And it’s starting to make me so depressed.

I’ve got no issue with the Steam sale itself. There are probably some moral quandaries involved that I don’t know about and probably don’t want to know about. I’m sure that fans waiting eight months to buy a game on sale isn’t great for small studios who get shut down on a quarterly basis, but that’s a problem with capitalism and the Embracer Group, not Steam. Plus, I’d assume it also works in the reverse and plenty of games find a new audience. I dunno. I’m very stupid.

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The fact is, Steam sales make me depressed because of me. Rather than a chance to pick up games I’ve been wanting or look for a new favorite, it’s become a nightmare version of Supermarket Sweep. I have to grab as much as I can as if video games are never going to be sold ever again. I can’t just add one item to a cart. I’m not just going to spend $12 on a collection of Lynx games, a real thing that I’m looking at buying right now at this very moment. Do I need a collection of Lynx games? No, I have every Lynx game ever made on an emulator. Do I want a collection of Lynx games? Yes. Yes I do. Will I ever play that collection if I buy it? Probably not.

Like I said, one game isn’t enough. I mean, it’s a sale, right? So I’ll add another game. Or maybe that one game I do want also comes in a little fun bundle with another game that I could not care less about. Throw that right in! Why not spend more? Oh, is that $30 worth of DLC for a game that I played for an hour and never touched again? Oh, I’ll never even download that downloadable content, but who can pass up a deal like that when it normally costs $60 for extras that will never touch any hard drive I own?

Every ‘sale’ ends up with me spending a lot more money than I should on games that I don’t need or want beyond a vague curiosity. Do you know how many fantasy and sci-fi themed 4X games I own? A lot. Do you know how many fantasy and sci-fi themed 4X games I’ve played? Maybe three. Because those games are enough! 4X games take a long time to learn and play!

Yet here I am, salivating over Age of Wonders 4. Or, rather, salivated because I just bought the complete set. I know it’s a good game, I just don’t know if I’ll ever play this good game. I want to! And I’m happy to hand over money for the privilege, but there’s a 50-50 chance it remains more of an idea of a game than a real game I’ve played.

Meanwhile, Steam sales weirdly freeze my brain’s ability to buy new, full-priced games. I don’t mean forever - no, no, no. But during the sale? It’s nearly impossible for my idiot reptile brain. I’ve added and removed Shadow of the Erdtree from my cart so many times - but it’s still full price! I’m a Pavlovian dog, drooling over the ringing bell of bargains. Once this sale is over, I’m for sure I’m going to get that Elden Ring expansion. But now? Right now? It looks disgusting in my shopping cart without that little green rectangle showing a price reduction.

It's Not The Game's Fault

Every Steam Sale Makes Me More Depressed (2)

Again, none of this has to do with the quality of the games. It has to do with me compulsively buying so much that I create a bottleneck in which no good games get played. That sucks, because I’m excited to play Age of Wonders 4. Along with the other games I bought this sale: Spirit Island, Sentinels of Earth Prime, One Deck Galaxy, V-Rising Sinister Evolution Pack, V-Rising Legacy of Castlevania Premium Pack, Dystopika, Tavern Talk, and Whisker Squadron: Survivor.

Sorry, I needed a breath. I also got Blasphemous 2, Darkest Dungeon 2, Renfield, Dokapon Kingdom Connect, Braid Anniversary Edition, The Dream Machine Chapters 1-6, The Rogue Prince of Persia, and five more Prince of Persia games that I really don’t feel like typing out because I’ve only got so many years left in my life. That’s too much! And that doesn’t include the stuff in my cart right now. Like I said, it’s a compulsion. It’s bad. It’s an addiction that I’d work on if ruining my own finances affected anyone else.

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But despite the compulsion to buy, I rarely feel better afterwards anymore. It used to be my own little Christmas. Now it’s like I’m spending money to get a hit of dopamine before giving myself homework. Like, do I really need another Geneforge game if I haven’t played any of the others for more than 15 minutes? I just end up feeling bad, overwhelmed by the number of games, annoyed at myself for not being better with money, and confused as to why I now own every expansion for digital board games I stopped playing years ago because I didn’t like them.

Ironically, it’s also depressing because I more or less already own the games I want at the moment. I don’t mean in the ‘we’ve got plenty at home, we don’t need more!’ sense. That would be rational and logical. Rather than accepting that nothing on sale interests me, I’ll just pretend something interests me to add it. Sure, spending $0 on something that I don’t want is better than $5. But how can I pass up a bargain? How can I be the only one who doesn’t get something from the pile of slop? It’s a self-defeating cycle that makes each sale a little more disappointing while staying the same amount of expensive.

I need to stop. It’s getting bad. I’m only hurting myself. But I just saw that Train Sim World 4 is 80 percent off and that seems like a great value despite my total lack of interest in trains.

Every Steam Sale Makes Me More Depressed (4)
Steam

Owned by Valve, Steam is a digital storefront and library for PC games. With many sales, updates, account functionality, and compatibility with many different platforms — as well as streaming options and its own Steam Deck handheld - it remains one of the biggest storefronts for PC gamers.

Every Steam Sale Makes Me More Depressed (2024)
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