Valve Hails Winter Sale As A Huge Success, But Was It All It Was Cracked Up To Be?

Written by Jon Sutton on Tue, Jan 12, 2016 4:00 PM
System Requirements Optimum 1080p PC Build Low vs Ultra Screenshots GPU Performance Chart CPU List That Meet System Requirements GPU List That Meet System Requirements

I’ll be the first in line to admit I had my doubts, but it turns out Valve’s marketing gurus could be even bigger geniuses at psychoanalysing their customers than I’d given them credit for. For the first time ever over the holidays, the Steam Winter Sale had an altered format. Daily Deals , feature discounts and flash deals were a thing of the past. Instead it was one fixed discount for each and every game in the sale (except Ubisoft, who, like some sort of rogue state, continued to operate outside of these restrictions with daily deals).

The idea being that this new format for delivering the sales meant everyone could get access to the best deal, whether they could only access a PC once for the duration of the 13-day event, or if they were rabidly checking for updates every four hours. Valve is being a little cagey about the financial results, but in terms of driving people around the Steam store-front it’s been an unparalleled success.

Valve’s first nifty idea was doling out free Steam Trading Cards every day. All you had to do was rifle through 12 games in your personalised Discovery Queue, three times every day. That clearly worked, because there was a gigantic increase in product page views - threefold in comparison to the 2014 Winter Sale.

Page views don’t make Valve any money though, so how did this pay off? Well, it turns out encouraging users to sift through dozens of recommendations thrice daily causes an upturn in wishlist additions. The result is double the norm.

One of our concerns going into the Winter Sale was that extrinsically motivating customers with a trading card might encourage people to just click through their Discovery Queue and not actually pay attention to the games being presented,” writes Valve. “It turned out that customers found a lot of value in using the Discovery Queue, resulting in a huge up-tick in sales and wishlist additions.

Which is all well and good, but none of this pertains to actual revenue for Valve. The only breadcrumb we have to go on here is that games outside of the top 500 in terms of revenue attracted 35% of the page views. That’s four times the traffic this section of the market got in 2014, and resulted in a 45% growth in revenue.

To that end, a 400% increase in traffic resulted in a 45% growth in sales. It’s no exact science, but apply that same rate to the total Steam product page views (which rose 300%) and you get a global sales increase of roughly 34%. Things are rarely as simple as this, and comparing the best-sellers to the fringe titles may be an apples to oranges comparison, but it's the nearest we can get to a point of comparison.

At the very least the new sales format appears to be a great driver for pushing people through Steam, with a pretty impressive up-tick in the purchase of the more niche titles to be found lurking on the store.

How did you find the alterations to the Steam Winter Sale format? Were you a fan of fixed discounts, or do you like to be kept on your toes with flash sales and daily discounts? For myself I think there was one of the first sales I've ever not spent a penny. There wasn't a great deal that stood out for me, and with no reason to come back each day while I was busy of the holidays, I didn't. 

Login or Register to join the debate

Rep
58
Offline
13:25 Jan-13-2016

once, twice, thrice? :p

0
Rep
383
Offline
senior admin badge
10:52 Jan-14-2016

Three times a lady?

0
Rep
1,041
Offline
senior admin badge
13:49 Jan-18-2016

three ladies a time ? xD

0
Rep
58
Offline
15:55 Jan-22-2016

I bougt so many games, knowing I couldn't complete them all right now. I'm playing so many games at once, I should just stick to a game and finish them one by one.

0
Rep
3
Offline
09:56 Jan-13-2016

I think I preferred daily deals albeit I wasn't into checking flash sales nor do I surf my queue. I only bought Red Alert 3 for 2.49 Euros during the last 24 hours of the sale.

0
Rep
33
Offline
admin approved badge
07:15 Jan-13-2016

Am i the only 1 here who have nothing on the last winter sale? well not including the free cards by exploring your game queue.

0
Rep
25
Offline
09:17 Jan-13-2016

Well I did not get anything as well..

0
Rep
33
Offline
admin approved badge
11:04 Jan-13-2016

i feel you bro.

0
Rep
13
Offline
18:28 Jan-13-2016

I got empire total war as a gift but nothing else, kinda a first for me not buying anything.

0
Rep
33
Offline
admin approved badge
05:07 Jan-17-2016

last winter sale was party for me. got a lot of purchase. this winter sale was so very sad.

0
Rep
58
Offline
admin approved badge
03:02 Jan-13-2016

Well, I bought: Mad Max, Stranded Deep, Verdun, and pre-ordered the new Homeworld game! All for under $100 CDN...

0
Rep
1
Offline
02:04 Jan-13-2016

I think this is due to the fact more currencies were added to steam. This the first I have ever purchased from steam.

0
Rep
35
Offline
23:45 Jan-12-2016

It probably didn't help that GD put up a debate about game backlogs during the sale lol!
I thought that it was nice not having to check the site every few hours, but I would have bought more if there were deeper cuts like the ones found in flash sales. Anyway, at least my backlog didn't grow much: two DLCs and a game, all for 15 green dead presidents.

0
Rep
47
Offline
20:09 Jan-12-2016

One of the things I noticed this sale was that there was so many AAA games on sale that released this year.


We had TW3, JC3, Fo4, GTA5, CoDBo3, all with discounts. That's the most I've ever seen in many, many years.


For those who don't know about daily deals though, refunds killed them.

4
Rep
-42
Offline
21:00 Jan-12-2016

Meh, most of those games still aren't worth it at the price. GTA V I think during the mid-2015 sale had a "discount" where the price was the exact same discounted as release. That's pretty much fraud

6
Rep
272
Offline
admin approved badge
22:04 Jan-12-2016

I pre-ordered my GTA 5. Didn't regret the decision :D

1
Rep
72
Offline
admin approved badge
23:42 Jan-12-2016

During the summer sale for GTA V it was the same price but they included another game which i think it was Max Payne 3 that you would of gotten with GTA V.

0
Rep
-42
Offline
23:53 Jan-12-2016

Really? I'm pretty sure it was that they added "Shark Cards" which was a form of microtransactions for the online multiplayer, in order to grant the perception of "added cost"

0
Rep
272
Offline
admin approved badge
23:57 Jan-12-2016

Well, you got something extra... I got GTA SA (which I gave away as I had it already) and a bunch of cash for SP and MP in GTA 5 when I pre-ordered. One of the very few games that I wanted to play on Day 1.

0
Rep
14
Offline
17:45 Jan-12-2016

strange....this is the only steam sale that i didn't buy anything.. i bought Zero games for christmas...none... i liked it, but i miss the old steam sale and community voting..


i think it was hit maybe cause the big games like gta and witcher was on sale for longer at its most discounted..
if one person bought witcher at $30 it would be equivalent to ten people buying a game for $3..

5
Rep
27
Offline
01:22 Jan-13-2016

same here. Although I did pick up Titanfall from Origin, their biggest competitor...


It was the lack of flash sales and like you as nothing the next either.

1
Rep
1,041
Offline
senior admin badge
17:41 Jan-12-2016

I guess people were more checking, which games are worth pirating during xmas period xD

0
Rep
4
Offline
18:14 Jan-12-2016

You must be hired by ubisoft.

8
Rep
213
Offline
admin badge
20:14 Jan-12-2016

THAT WAS FUNNY hes gonna be ticked at you lol

2
Rep
1,041
Offline
senior admin badge
21:30 Jan-12-2016

wrong, everyone here knows I am hired by Microsoft to promote Windows 10 xD

6
Rep
272
Offline
admin approved badge
22:04 Jan-12-2016

I approve this message!

2
Rep
327
Offline
admin approved badge
22:48 Jan-12-2016
2
Rep
58
Offline
admin approved badge
03:00 Jan-13-2016

lol

1
Rep
386
Offline
admin approved badge
06:53 Jan-13-2016

ROFL.... CWL.... LoL.... GG!

1
Rep
386
Offline
admin approved badge
06:54 Jan-13-2016

I guarantee that Tzzsmk is the best windows 10 promoter out there :D

3
Rep
1,041
Offline
senior admin badge
20:44 Jan-16-2016

"Windows 10. Breaking Windows isn’t just for kids anymore…"

0
Rep
8
Offline
20:39 Jan-12-2016

#true tzz

0
Rep
95
Offline
admin approved badge
17:34 Jan-12-2016

The free trading cards were an easy way to make money XD I think I made like $4 from selling them!

1
Rep
44
Offline
admin approved badge
17:25 Jan-12-2016

Honestly, this was overshadowed for me by the fact that they were serving up cached personal identity information to strangers for a good few hours on Christmas Day :P

0
Rep
1,041
Offline
senior admin badge
17:42 Jan-12-2016

so what if just Valve-hired hackers were using the hijacked accounts to boost Steam views? xD

0
Rep
44
Offline
admin approved badge
17:53 Jan-12-2016

I think if anything it shook people's confidence for at least 48 hours. And in terms of a big sale, even 12 hours of people having their doubts is really bad for business :P

0
Rep
262
Offline
admin approved badge
21:47 Jan-12-2016

Easier to just raise the viewcount in their Database :P

0
Rep
386
Offline
admin approved badge
17:57 Jan-12-2016

And that's why I like physical copies. Try to steal my game physically, I will tear your skull to shreds.

2
Rep
327
Offline
admin approved badge
18:02 Jan-12-2016
3
Rep
386
Offline
admin approved badge
18:59 Jan-12-2016

my man.

2
Rep
272
Offline
admin approved badge
17:05 Jan-12-2016

I bought a few games (Talos Principle, Stanley Parable, my old-time favourite Spore, Hearts of Stone for Witcher 3, etc) and I think it was better for me because I never have the time to keep coming back to see if I've missed any damn sales. Hated the flash sale thing. But this is just a personal opinion, it's quite evident that a lot of people liked them.


As for the sales numbers - as long as there's a REAL increase - it's good news for the PC gaming community! More popularity in platform = more and better games! :)

3
Rep
327
Offline
admin approved badge
16:35 Jan-12-2016

This year's Steam Winter sale was the first one that I didn't buy a single thing during in several years.

8
Rep
-42
Offline
17:21 Jan-12-2016

Same... because I had no Steam $$ :( I really want TW3 and 55 other games :/

2
Rep
14
Offline
18:21 Jan-12-2016

This is the first steam sale that i have bought tons of games very cheaply.

0
Rep
27
Offline
01:25 Jan-13-2016

I found there were games on sale this time that were more expensive than in past Steam sales. The fact that they not too long ago introduced regional pricing for my country probably didn't help this.

0
Rep
14
Offline
18:24 Jan-12-2016

Witcher 3 with expansion for 17 $ , Tomb raider complete pack for 4 $ , metro redux pack for 3 $ , half life pack for 3 $ i am very much satisfied with the offer presented by steam winter sale.

0
Rep
327
Offline
admin approved badge
18:27 Jan-12-2016

My problem was that I already have most of the games I really want plus I have a huge backlog of games hanging over my head.

1
Rep
272
Offline
admin approved badge
18:33 Jan-12-2016

Same as LeadStar here. I bought a few games, but now I'm at a point where I need to think real hard about what I want/should buy next, because I already have, somehow, 250+ steam games on my account xD

1
Rep
5
Offline
16:24 Jan-12-2016

Beside this Xbox one or ps4 controller which should I buy for pc

2
Rep
5
Offline
16:31 Jan-12-2016

xbox 360 or any of the ones logitech makes

0
Rep
327
Offline
admin approved badge
16:32 Jan-12-2016

I have a wireless Logitech F710 & I love it. It can be used as a Direct Input device or a Direct X device. Meaning you can program it to use KB&M controls for games that have no controller support, or use it as an Xbox controller on games that do have controller support. It comes with software for easy mapping of controls.

3
Rep
272
Offline
admin approved badge
17:08 Jan-12-2016

I bought a PS4 controller for myself because the D-Pad is not as retarded as the XBOX offerings (and I'm talking both X360 and XBONE here).
And before anyone bashes me - I've got two X360 wireless controllers (and the D-Pads are the same on both X360 and XBONE gamepads) that I've used for a loooong time and getting a DualShock 4 was a decision I regret not one bit :)
Playing Mortal Kombat X was a treat, whereas it used to be a chore trying to make combos before.

0
Rep
327
Offline
admin approved badge
17:12 Jan-12-2016

Madcatz makes a wired 360 controller with an excellent D-pad. That is my alternate controller that I use for fighting games.

1
Rep
272
Offline
admin approved badge
17:22 Jan-12-2016

hmm, looks better, but if looks are anything to go by I would guess it's quite spongy..?

0
Rep
327
Offline
admin approved badge
17:36 Jan-12-2016

The D-pad on the wired Madcatz 360 controller I have is phenomenal compared to any other modern controller I have laid my hands on. It is not spongy at all. It is a little stiff with a nice little click when bottomed out. To be honest the entire controller handles well. It is actually a lot more comfortable than my Logitech F710 or my official PS3 or Xbox 360 controllers. I have had it for like 6 years or more now. The D-pad on it actually reminds me of the old NES & SNES.

1
Rep
272
Offline
admin approved badge
17:38 Jan-12-2016

Hmm, not bad then! I've had a few MadCatz accessories way back when my PSP was king and they were great. I'll stick to my DualShock 4 for now, but I'll keep the MadCatz one in case mine breaks or someone needs a recommendation.

1
Rep
2
Offline
17:13 Jan-12-2016

I'd recommend you get the Xbox controller. I have one myself and it's great.

-1
Rep
272
Offline
admin approved badge
17:20 Jan-12-2016

But what about that ****ty D-Pad..?

-2
Rep
-42
Offline
17:23 Jan-12-2016

Just stick with the DualShock 4

1
Rep
2
Offline
18:25 Jan-12-2016

It's called personal prefference, ever heard of that? Also, thanks for the downvotes, seems like if you like something that others don't, you are instantly seen as the new Hitler.

0
Rep
9
Offline
02:34 Jan-13-2016

Hello Hitler, have an upvote

2
Rep
327
Offline
admin approved badge
07:07 Jan-13-2016

LOL! What in the hell is happening here? Has everyone gone mad?

1
Rep
12
Offline
17:43 Jan-12-2016

The Wii u pro controller is also a nice option. Great battery life and Nintendo knows how to make an excellent d-pad.

0
Rep
272
Offline
admin approved badge
17:48 Jan-12-2016

Can't argue with the D-Pad from Nintendo! My 3DS D-Pad is excellent and I've seen tons and tons of people praising them all the way back to the first GameBoys :)

1
Rep
8
Offline
20:42 Jan-12-2016

i have Thrustmaster Dual Trigger 3 in 1 and it can be used as ps3 or pc controller. It's great! Only 1 time i had problems, but changed it and after this i have 0 problem.

0

Can They Run... |

| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Ryzen 5 3600 6-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1080 MSI Gaming X 8GB Edition 16GB
| 30FPS, Low, 720p
Ryzen 5 3400G 4-Core 3.7GHz Radeon RX Vega 11 6GB
| 30FPS, High, 1080p
Core i5-11400 6-Core 2.7GHz GeForce RTX 3050 Ti Mobile 8GB
| 60FPS, Medium,
Ryzen 5 3500U 4-Core 2.1 GHz Radeon RX Vega 8 8GB
| 30FPS, Low,
Ryzen 5 3500U 4-Core 2.1 GHz Radeon RX Vega 8 8GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i5-10400 6-Core 2.90GHz GeForce GTX 1650 16GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i7-7700K 4-Core 4.2GHz GeForce RTX 2080 Super 8GB 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i7-7700K 4-Core 4.2GHz GeForce RTX 2080 Super 8GB 16GB
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i5-10300H 4-Core 2.50GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Mobile 16GB
| 30FPS, Low, 720p
Athlon II X2 245 GeForce GTS 250 4GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i9-10900X 10-Core 3.7GHz GeForce RTX 2070 Super Gigabyte Gaming OC 3X 8GB 32GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 30FPS, Medium, 1080p
Ryzen 5 3500U 4-Core 2.1 GHz Radeon RX 540X 2GB Mobile 8GB
100% Yes [2 votes]
| 30FPS, Low, 1080p
Core i5-4670 3.4GHz GeForce GTX 1050 Ti EVGA Gaming 4GB 8GB
100% Yes [3 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1440p
Ryzen 7 3700X 8-Core 3.6GHz GeForce RTX 2080 EVGA XC Ultra Gaming 8GB 32GB
100% Yes [4 votes]