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Developers can now run their own discount sales on Steam
Developers can now run their own discount sales on Steam
February 26, 2014 | By Mike Rose

If you thought there were already enough discount sales on Steam, get ready for a whole lot more.

Steam today announced that developers can now run their own sales via the online store, for whatever price they want, and at whatever time suits them. Previously, developers have had to work with Valve to decide on when discounts would occur.

As spotted by a Reddit user, Valve announced the move in the private Steamworks Development forums. Developers can choose to create their own custom sales, or opt in to take part in upcoming weeklong sales.

All Steamworks devs need do is open up the product they are aiming to discount, select however much discount they require, and choose a timeframe. Sales can last up to two weeks.

Notably, the functionality doesn't appear to be fully up and running just yet, as noted by developer Dan Marshall. Check below for a screenshot of the Steamworks announcement.


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Michael Joseph
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Developers developers developers developers!

Microsoft once saw the wisdom in empowering developers too but one day whilst pondering life, the universe, and everything the paranoid king-of-the-hill concluded that it's own development community was a threat and so it decided to become more like Apple.

And on the end-user side, a heaping spoonful of sugar makes the DRM go down. Steam is a great example of how to deliver a bitter pill - you coat it a thick layer of yummy. Subscription free digital library that hosts all your games "forever" with social networking features, multiplayer match making, and an ever increasing set of free features.

Jonathan Martinez
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Making it easier for developers to put their games on sale on Steam?
This can only end in greatness. :D

I had no idea devs had to jump through a few hoops to get a sale going. Making it easier to put games on sale can only increase the amount of sales we see. This is a net win for Steam users.

Mike Fleischauer
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I actually think I will find this rather annoying as an end user.

Already I find too many titles on "fake sale" just to populate the sales part of the UI. Titles that are permanently 10% off. It will become common practice for developers to do the same sort of thing for the increased exposure it represents.

Now, if Steam had better (any!) sorting tools, this would be a non-issue. As it stands now, it will just be more crap to have to click through to find the real sales.

Florian Putz
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I dont know whether I should like this. That and the announcement that valve will soon leave almost all the publishing to developers (and shutdown greenlight) - I'am afraid steam will soon be another (cr)appstore where everyone can sell anything for any price. The winner is clearly valve that gets a profit from every transaction made. Leave the quality assurace to the customer - just like apple and google do it. Today there are already too much sales going on and prices are way too low - this will just increase all the price dumping and lower the quality of available games even further.

R. Hunter Gough
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if that does happen, my great hope is that steam will offset it with some sort of totally groundbreaking discoverability features. I think they were toying with that with the tags system, but that didn't work out so well.

I think the best solution would be for them to buy the remnants of reccr from me for large amounts of money. :)

Kenneth Blaney
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Their ultimate goal, from what I recall, appears to be some sort of user curated titles system. That is, I can run a store and decide what games to stock in my store, then I get a cut of the sales made through my store (thus, I have an interest in getting customers to buy other dev's games and curating my store well so that people constantly return to my store).

Adam Bishop
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Steam is already completely overloaded with games (over 2000 according to their About page) and there's a frequently increasing number of small, cheap games on the New Release list. And yet I'm able to find more good PC games than ever before. I don't really see a problem with lots of games being released as long as there are still some good ones and people who care enough to talk about them. I mean, there are thousands (tens of thousands) of albums released every year, and lots of it is awful, but it's also still easy to find great music to listen to.

Rick Kolesar
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No one buys clothes through the Sears catalog anymore and we don't walk up and down the aisles of our favorite record store buying music. Everything we buy now is virally found or discovered via social networks.

Friends playing games, blog posts, games trending on Twitter, Facebook posts, Twitch streams. This is how games sell now.

SD Marlow
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Yeah this doesn't sound like a good thing for developers that actually need to make money. It's bad enough that 50% off (or more) is almost expected of any game on steam while at the same time many joke about having a digital stack of games they haven't played yet (because they bought them on the cheap). This also fails to tie sales with Steam-based PROMOTIONS of said games. The lower earnings was seen as a trade-off for getting noticed by enough people to still earn vastly more than current levels. Just going lower is just going lower.

Greenlight was never going to be more than a buffer zone. As I've said many times, "app stores" need to have curated sections or "recommended by" areas that are voted up or down like comments. We also need new metrics because just saying "over 5 million downloads" means nothing if you also put "average playtime in first 24 hours: 3 minutes."

Kujel s
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This is a rare case where I actully think Valve did a good thing. More power to developers is always a good thing.

Dana Laratta
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Devs still need a better way to get onto the service than Greenlight, and a better way for their game to be found than being on sale. It is however good to see Valve doing this, as well as adding the tags (less successful in my opinion) to improve the ability of devs to have their game be found!

Will Hendrickson
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I have mixed feelings about this. But, somehow, I feel that the Summer Sale will still be a huge discoverability boost for developers who's games are good enough for it.

It looks like Valve is just as worried about creating a low-quality slog as the developers are, since that would destroy their image as the one place to go for the absolute best in PC gaming.

I think as Steam Machines approach release, there will be more experimentation by Valve. We can only hope that this benefits developers as well as Valve, because if not, the players will suffer. There are already many players complaining about the recent decrease in overall quality of Steam games. But, fortunately, there are still tons of great games on Steam and it remains, in my opinion, the best quality digital distribution marketplace when compared with the others.

Kim Pallister
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Maybe I'm missing something, but I'm not sure how this doesn't result in the same race to the bottom we saw on Apple's store. Sales are a good way to draw attention to an offering, making it stand out as special. But if everyone is trying to stand out, then no one does.

Tyler King
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Its true that it will be harder to get discovered, but that is the nature of the beast. It all comes back to the fact that running a game studio is a business. It isn't valve's responsibility to promote everyone's game. Can they do some? Sure, but there are far too many games to give love to all of them. It is the game studio's responsibility to market the game and bring people in. Steam still provides a good convenient way to do that, but it is more important now than ever to focus on your marketing strategy.

Nathan Mates
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"Race to the bottom?" Sorry, what you're describing is basic economics: the law of supply and demand. My free time for games is pretty much fixed. That's the demand. The number of new games coming out is exploding -- how many thousand new games are on Wii*/*DS/PS*/Xbox*/iOS/Android/Steam/Kongregate/etc per year? And more total new games than last year? That's the supply. When supply exceeds demand, prices need to fall. What you may prefer to happen can be a different story, but you should at least acknowledge how the world does work.

One of Nintendo's policies in the 1980s that helped the US market recover after the early-80s videogame crash was that game publishers could only publish five titles per year. That artificially reduced supply, and helped with supply and demand. It seems highly unlikely that anybody could get away with that policy today.

Kenneth Blaney
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@Nathan, the one issue with that analysis is that different games are not treated like consumable products. That is, there is demand for specific games in specific genres in addition to an overall demand for games.

Nintendo's policy wasn't just to reduce the supply but rather to increase the quality by forcing companies to pick and choose their best products to release. This was a direct reaction to the earlier games crash which was a result of a flood of specifically poor quality games. Unsurprisingly, higher quality titles on all of those stores remain seemingly unharmed by the "race to the bottom"/"basic economics" described here and still manage to fetch a premium.

David Paris
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We already don't buy anything at anywhere close to full price on Steam. Mostly I think this will just make it harder to dig through the clutter to find the stuff we do want to buy.

Give me a way to set a price breakpoint on a game so that Steam will notify me when that game falls below my breakpoint and I'll be happy. See some new game and think "oh that looks kind of interesting, but not at $40. Tell me when it hits 10$" Ignore it for a few months and this will happen, but right now it is up to me to notice. The tools for noticing will just become even more cluttered with fake sales.

Cordero W
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I stand by this simple phrase: you get what you paid for.

Matt Cratty
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I hope very much Valve doesn't turn Steam into a service where anyone can list anything.