Steam Sales: The Conditioning


I remember when I was a kid, getting a new game was quite the quest. First, I had to put together car washing equipment (bucket, soap, sponge, hose nozzle, towels) and venture throughout the neighborhood asking people if they wanted their car washed. It would usually take me a whole weekend to make enough money to be able to afford a new game. I would have to wait a whole week for the next weekend to arrive and try to convince my dad to drive me to Toys “R” Us or Bestbuy, which he really did not want to do, just so I can pick out a new Super Nintendo game to play.

I would spend nearly an hour looking at the box art of all the various video games behind the glass, trying to imagine the adventures that await, trying to choose the best adventure my money can buy. Calling over a clerk to open the glass was the best part too. Watching the glass unlock and slide open was like seeing the vault doors to Gringotts become accessible. After which I would proudly make my purchase, and then stare at the box art on the journey home. If I tried to open the box, my dad would tell me to wait until we got home, making the drive seem like an endless odyssey.

Arriving home brought feelings close to that of Christmas morning when you wake up and see a mountain of presents under the tree. I would rush to my room tearing open the box and then just sit there for another hour reading and re-reading the manual, admiring the cover art on the game cartridge, and then finally inserting the game into my treasured SNES. Adventure awaits. Goodbye rest of my weekend. Goodbye remembering chores. Goodbye baseball appointment with neighborhood kids. Time to save the world, once again.

As of right now, I have over 600 games on Steam and have played maybe 10% of them. I bought nearly all of them on sale (with the exception of free games) and probably will never end up trying them all. 10 year old me is very upset! …And jealous.

I have become complacent over the years. Steam sales have conditioned me to expect to buy games at an unreasonably low price all the time. The magic of a new game is very rarely experienced. I only noticed this about myself after the past two sales. During the sales I found myself saying “these sales are not good enough!”, and after much thought I realized what I have become… Conditioned. Steam has conditioned me to expect unreasonably low prices during sales and to only buy games that are on sale, with the exception of a small list of absolute favorites (Fallout, Elder Scrolls, Final Fantasy, Battlefield).

I think a lot of other people are experiencing this phenomenon as well. We all grew up paying vast amounts of money for one or two games a year, and then Steam comes along and offers bundles of games at the same price. We also get older and have less time to game, which makes things even worse. We are older, have more money, but less time, and less patience to become enveloped in story and adventure.

However, on top of being conditioned to only buy games on sale, I have been conditioned to collect! I now spend more money on games than I used to, and it’s spread around to many different developers I would have likely not given money to otherwise. So in the end, it kind of all works out. It makes me feel better about it all to consider myself a digital collector of video games, with Steam being my platform. I hope someday I can pass my Steam account to my ancestors so they can learn more about the things I truly enjoy.

Just a thought.


Here is a handful of free Steam keys for a lucky someone.















About author


Entrepreneur, music lover, player of video games, and futurist.


Yell at someone