So, the first Steam Summer Sale with Valve's new sale format has concluded and it's being reported that it's a "Smashing Success". Essentially games bought were up and revenue was up. But I think whether or not it's a success depends on who you were.
For instance "According to Galyonkin, though, about 36.8 million copies of games were sold during the 2016 Summer Sale, compared to 33 million sold in 2015."
So about 3.8 million more games were purchased in this sale compared to the last. There -are- margins of errors since games that sold less than 5000 copies, etc were not included and whatnot. Of course this is true for both sales.
I will point out however, from my own personal browsing, most of the games that dared to go above 70-75% discount tended to be games from small indie devs, games that were out for ages already, or games with bad reps. That wasn't the case in the 2015 sale that had flash sales and daily deals that routinely jumped into the 80-95% discounts.
Anyway, back to the comparison. So it looks like about an extra 3.8 million games were sold during the 2016 sale compared to the older format. This sounds good, until you consider that over this year Steam has seen an increase of about 45 million new users that were eligible to purchase games.
During a sale a single user will usually buy more (often much more) than a single game. For my part, I spent 20 dollars in total since there were some bundles of niche games and the like that were on sale. That's 20 dollars more than I spent on other steam sales since this new format began. (Compared to how I use to spend between 60-120 during a sale when flash sales and daily deals were a thing.)
So what I take from this is that while a few more games were sold, overall FEWER people are actually buying games.
Why is this a smashing success however? Because total revenue was up 40%. Up to 223.2 million compared to $160 million in 2015 when they had 45 million less users. Fewer games sold, more profit. Hell yeah, definitely a success to the devs and Valve!
But not so much a success for gamers. But who cares about those. This is why you'll often see people on Steam and forums complaining about how much the summer sale sucked. Because for gamers, it did. As others will frequently comment "Why do people make such a big deal about the Steam sale now? You can get those kinds of deals ALL YEAR ROUND." And it's true.
These changes came into effect pretty much right after the ability to refund/return games on Steam. It doesn't take a genius to figure out what Steam wanted to avoid - people buying a game during the normal sale, then returning it only to rebuy it when that game came up in a flash sale or daily deal.
When they saw that scenario happening, they had to make a choice. They could do what they did above - simply not give out any better deals during a sale, thereby axing off the time limited sales that everyone were really looking out for and wanted (And thus spent overall more money on).
Or they could have instituted a new rule on their game refund policy, whereby a user would be unable to repurchase a title for 2 weeks after demanding a refund. That would allow the sale to pass by in it's entirety so people wouldn't be scrounging for the cheapest possible price. Either they'll buy the game at it's normal price or they'll wait for a flash sale that made it an instant purchase. If people bought a game and didn't like it, then that's certainly understandable. That's why I don't recommend a 15 day wait period before they can return it. But the odds of the game becoming enjoyable within a 2 week period is extremely unlikely. Especially if no update was done on the game. (I'd argue that the 2 week period could be cancelled prematurely if a dev DOES do an update however.) If they're just trying to bicker about the price then they shouldn't have bought it in the first place. And in this scenario, they'll do just that - until the final day. Like they've done in the previous years.
Choice B, that they didn't take, wouldn't have done much to change things. People would still have the same purchasing habits of either buying things on the first day, or waiting as long as possible, the last day, to purchase things if it didn't show up in a flash/daily deal. I'd argue that with the infusion of an extra 45 million users the Steam sale would have seen even higher revenues compared to the 223.2 million. (Consider myself as one example. I'm sure I would have spent far more than 20 bucks during the sale if it had it's flash sales and daily deals. I would have also been keeping a much closer eye on the sale overall.)
However Choice A, which they did take, meant less work on their part, and higher revenue per game sold on their part. So it was a no brainer. And so long as the overall revenue went up they're going to pat themselves on the back for a job well done.
Doing some math, I wouldn't have considered the sale a success myself unless the games/gamer sales maintained the same or increased, and/or the total revenue/gamer remained the same or increased. (Rather than hoping the extra cash/game would be enough to offset the loss of interest in the platform from gamers noted by the fewer purchases per person.)
So, I'd expect them not to be happy unless they had at least sold a total of 44.4 million games in total - to account for the extra 45 MILLION gamers this year compared to last.
Alternatively, I'd expect them to have pulled in at least $215.3 million in overall reven- egads, looks like they did! Which goes to show you how much more money they leeched from each gamer. They just -BARELY- outdid themselves compared to last year after accounting for the extra 45 million users. To me that would still count as more of a breaking-even or even a failure if you want to consider inflation into the issue.
On a side note, I was a bit sore since I couldn't even sell the sale cards I had dups of on the market place due to their new account protection racket requiring a cellphone. I don't have a cellphone. As a result I'd have to wait 2 weeks before my card sales would be shown on the marketplace for others to buy. Problem is, the sale would have been over by then - and those very cards would have disappeared before potential buyers would even see them. Yeah, fuck you steam. :D I went and converted all the cards I collected by spam-clicking through the queues most days into gems. Overall, didn't give a shit.
Want to know what I would like to know? I'd be interested in seeing how GOG did with it's summer sales between 2015 and 2016. Did a few searches for it, but came back without any results. I did notice that their sale looked more interesting overall. I think the main thing holding me back from buying much on GOG is that I can't buy GOG gift cards (Locally at least - unsure if they're even an option though) to add money to my account there, which is the ONLY reason Steam gets any purchases out of me at all.
Want to know the only other thing I noticed about the Steam sales since the format was changed? I mean other than the absence of amazing sales. (As noted, the kinds of deals you find on there now are things a person can find all year round from third party key sellers, etc) What I noticed is that for the first day or three of the sale, Steam is utterly unusable. Everyone knows there's no reason to wait for a good deal now, so everyone goes there on the first day to make their purchases. As a result... LAAAAAAAAAG. That's something I never noticed ever being an issue in the old format - because people will wait for a daily deal. They buy their big 10gig+ game, then start downloading from Steam. 50 million people doing that. What could possibly go wrong. :P
So in summary:
1. More money per game.
2. Less interesting sale overall.(Seriously. They have to bribe you with cards to check your queue.)
3. Insane lag making the store unsearchable, unreliable, and often accidentally logging you out (or thinking you're logged out because they somehow can't verify you.)
I think I'll do a bit of research to see if I can find me some GOG gift cards. Certainly looks like I missed out by not checking up on their sale (due to not having any gift cards, didn't really check it out much.)