The Steam Summer Sale: Take Note, PSN and XBLA

Nine out of ten PC gamers will start to complain every summer about how painful the Steam Summer Sale is to their wallets.

And there’s good reason for this; the sale is ridiculous, with some games dropping in price to as low as $.75 for Indies and some major games dropping to the same price as a cup of coffee.

Deal doesn’t even begin to describe it.

So, my question is this: out of all the other digital marketplaces out there, why is Steam the only one willing to offer such a crazy sale?

It’s no secret that Steam is a major success and arguably one of the most lucrative parts of Valve Software. The PC digital marketplace serves as a platform for hundreds of games, be they the most obscure of Indie titles to the largest and most influential of retail games. And while it hosts a few major sales each year, Steam is well known for marking down their game prices often, and usually for a substantial amount.

Because of this, a lot of PC users are more than willing to open up their wallets and spend money on games that get a significant markdown, resulting in a lot of gamers who have many games in their library they haven’t even touched yet.

So as a primarily console gamer, I’m left wondering why we haven’t seen the same sort of flexibility from places like the PlayStation Network or Xbox Live Arcade.

Now I should be fair; both of those marketplaces have weekly sales, and some of those sales are more than reasonable.  And it’s likely that prices maintain their original price point because people still buy them. PlayStation Network has made some awesome moves with PlayStation Plus and free games offered to members, and Xbox Live typically has a slew of games they mark down weekly. And of course, I can’t overlook the Summer of Arcade and PlayStation’s Summer Sale. But they vastly pale in comparison to what Steam is willing to offer to its users on a regular basis, and based on the success of Steam, it’s impossible to argue that the service loses money because of their willingness to offer sales and marked-down prices.

And I find it hard to imagine a better way to compete with used game sales than offering a brand-new digital copy of a game for a less than or equal amount to what consumers would spend on a pre-owned title in a brick-and-mortar store.

Of course, I’m not a marketing specialist or an accountant for either Sony or Microsoft. I’m just a humble gamer and journalist wondering why we can’t have a bit more love on the consoles, especially considering the fact that our industry is quickly headed toward an all-digital future.

So take a gander at the success of your brother Steam, dear console makers. There’s a serious lesson to be learned here.