Update: With the Steam Halloween Sale just over two weeks away, the deals section of the Steam Store is pretty sparse at the moment. There are some good deals to be had (right now there's a free play weekend on Ghost Recon Wildlands), but we're expecting big things from the spooky-season sale.
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Now that the Steam Summer Sale is drifting into a pleasant distant memory we can look back on it, laugh at some of our impulse purchases that were a little ill-advised, rue those weeks of eating on a budget due to overspending and learn from our mistakes with a brand new battle plan.
More importantly, we're far enough away from the PC gaming extravaganza that we've played through most of the games that we bought, and we're ready to look forward to the Steam Sales coming up.
Fear not deal-hunter, there is another Steam Sale in the not-too-distant future. Plus, Valve knows that we need a constant drip feed to keep us satisfied, so provides us with little regular deals like a trail of breadcrumbs, leading us between sales.
On this page we'll give you all the information for the sales yet to come, our picks of the deals currently live, and information about the deals that have gone before. All so that you don't fall into the common pitfalls of sale shopping, and end up getting the best games available for the best price.
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When does the next Steam Sale start?
The next major Steam sale is the Halloween sale which, you guessed it, is in October. Historically the Halloween sale is launched on October 28 or 29 and lasts until November 1, meaning you just have a few days to get those deals. This year's Halloween sale has yet to be officially confirmed, but once we know more about it we'll let you know the exact dates.
Steam also runs Weeklong and Weekend Deals, which are less of a discount bonanza than the full sales, but do have some good games in them. We will be bringing you the highlights from the Weeklong Deals so you don't have to trawl through all the possible money wasters.
TechRadar's Steam deal of the moment
Right now, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands is 50% off RRP to buy, and even better than that, it's having a free weekend, meaning that if you want to get into the franchise but aren't sure you want to part with your hard earned cash, now is the perfect time.
What's more, the game has recently got a PvP mode, so there's presumably going to be a lot of people for you to play with this weekend. You can get the Standard Edition, Deluxe Edition, or Gold Edition, all 50% off this weekend only.
The best Steam Sale deals of the year so far
Gone but not forgotten, here is our collection of all the best deals that we have seen up until this point. Use them as a point of reference for what you should be expecting. Or you know, lament the ones that got away.
Skyrim: With over 200 Game of the Year Awards to its name, Skyrim is undoubtedly one of the greatest games of recent years. With its seemingly endless open world gameplay, this is truly a game that has something for everyone.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition, is complete with remastered art and effects, plus all the mods, meaning in it's own words: "there are no limits to what you can experience". The entire Elder Scrolls bundle was 50% off.
The Witcher 3: Inarguably the game of 2015, The Witcher 3 is also now often considered the best RPG of all time. A sprawling dark fantasy epic, it's a beautiful game and one that's a great show piece for your souped-up gaming PC too.
And, with the Game of the Year Edition being heavily discounted in the Steam Summer Sale 2017, it was a fantastic way to jump into this monumental game, and get all of its DLC at a discount too.
Tomb Raider franchise: Few franchises are as iconic as this, and if you've missed out on any of Lara exploits so far, this can plug those gaps. Discounts vary between 60% and 80% across the 13 games included in the offer: you can pick up Rise of the Tomb Raider for a 60% discount, for example, and Tomb Raider: Underworld for a whopping 80% off. It's tempting to just spend the whole summer in Lara's company.
The Valve complete pack: If, by some small miracle, you're a PC gamer that was yet to try any of Valve's homegrown titles, this was your chance. The Valve Complete Pack was a staggering 91% off its usual asking price, including all the Half-Life games and episodes, every Portal game, every Left 4 Dead game, a bunch of DLC and much, much more.
HTC Vive: Okay, technically not a game, but nevertheless, Valve is selling its headset with a modest discount plus a $50/£50 Steam Gift card. During the Summer Sale you could get the HTC Vive with just over a 6% discount. It may not sound like much, but with the price of the headset, 6% makes a difference.
What games are going to be in the Steam Sales?
First off, don't expect brand new games to get the deep discounts that have become synonymous with the Steam sales. You may see a 5%, or even 10% discount on games that have been recent big hits, but if they're still new enough to be spinning money without needing a price cut, don't expect that to change now that the sale is here.
But, with the exception of the newer titles, pretty much the entire store receives a 25% discount, if not higher. Some hit the heady heights of 90% off the list price. While the store now highlights what Valve considers the best deals, it's worth noting that flash and community sales are no longer in the mix, so feel free to pick a title on sale when you like – its discounted price will stand for the duration of the sale.
How to get the best deals in the Steam Summer Sale
Whichever way you approach the Steam Summer Sale (or the Winter holiday sale, or any other Steam deal-a-thon for that matter), you're guaranteed to pick up something great at a good price.
But, there are a few techniques and tricks worth using to get the most out of the sale.
- Use your Steam Wishlist: Fill it up with all the games you're interested in picking up, and it will alert you the moment they go on sale, and by how much.
- Bundles are great: Publishers often pull their titles together in sale mega-packs, ramping up the savings to even greater heights. If there's a suite of titles from a publisher like Square Enix or Activision that you've never played before, this is the best – and cheapest – way to bag them all at once. As you'd imagine, the value diminishes if you've already got a few bundled titles in your library.
- Highlighted deals are where the real savings are: The majority of the Steam store back catalogue will get some sort of price cut, but it's the 'Highlighted' deals (the ones promoted on the Steam front splash page) that tend to be more heavily discounted. These are the ones where you may fall into impulse-buy territory. Which leads on to our next tip...
- Only buy what you'll actually play right away: Once those 75% off signs start floating around, you're going to want to break open the piggy-bank. But the Steam sales of yesteryear have proved that our desire for overflowing game libraries leaves us with more titles than we could ever humanly play. Save some cash, and only grab the ones you're really going to play – keep in mind that if you wait a while, the games will almost inevitably get cheaper as they get older.
- Use this browser extension: Want to make sure you're getting a good deal? Use the Enhanced Steam browser extension. It gives you a historical look at the price of all Steam games, letting you see just how many pennies have been saved.
Of course, Other Gaming Stores Do Exist™, and it's worth checking their wares too to see if you can't bag an even bigger bargain elsewhere. GOG.com is a great place to start, and if you're platform agnostic and looking for multi-platform titles, keep an eye on the PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Deals with Gold offers, too. There's a reasonable chance that the odd game may turn up at one spot or the other at a slightly more affordable price and it's always worth looking for a few titles during Black Friday for some pre-Christmas bargains.