Steam Holiday Sale Is On, And Involved

I like games when they're cheap, but then I'm controversial.

I think from now on I will post the news that Steam is not having a sale. Should I manage to type quickly enough during one of those gaps. But for today, the Steam Holiday Sale has begun, and it’s… baffling.

Of course it means lots of games are going to be at those mega-profits-creating teeny prices (imagine if the industry got to grips with that!), a different selection every day from now until January 1st. But alongside that, there’s The Great Gift Pile page, which will be setting objectives for things to be completed in those games. Oh my.

Completing objectives will win you either a gift, or a lump of coal. Which will appear in your Steam Inventory. Gifts will either be full games, or coupons toward them, while coal can be – of course – crafted into gifts. Seven coals = one gift. Which is to say, buy or previously own seven games, and complete objectives within them, and then you can have one gift. And of course you can trade both gifts and coal amongst your chums, or even give them away to friends and strangers. And finally, a lump of coal can be saved, which gets you access to the “Epic Holiday Giveaway” on January 2nd. There are also gifts just for fiddling about with the gift system, although right now the site is falling to pieces for me, and none of it’s working.

Oh blimey, who knew a sale could be this complicated! Fortunately, just buying cheap stuff is as simple as ever, and you don’t need to worry yourself with all this extravagance. For instance, today you could pick yourself up Just Cause 2 for £3.50, or Orcs Must Die for £3. Or how about the brilliant Amnesia: Dark Descent for £3.24?


  1. Soulstrider says:

    Nice deals though I have no idea how do we redeem a gift since it says I have one but nothing appears on my inventory

    • Buttless Boy says:

      The inventory page seems to be having trouble, but I was able to get in a while back and the gift is a coupon for 33% off a Valve game (at least for me).

      Interestingly, the coupon is dated from January 2nd to March 1st. DOTA 2 coming in February?

    • James G says:

      I think it’s just glitching out at the moment, if I’m not Guru erroring I’m seeing either an entirely empty inventory, or only my TF2 items. I’m hoping that once the servers stop taking a hammering my gifts/coal will appear.

    • zeroskill says:

      Dota 2 will most likely be free to play, we have already seen leaked custom skins which heavily indicate a Team Fortress 2 style shop in game. Also Valve has no reason to not go free to play with this game, considering how successful Team Fotress 2 is with the model, and considering the competition is also free to play. Also we have over 15k people playing the game at any given time right now in the beta, and the game is already in the top 10 of most played games on steam.

    • Buttless Boy says:

      In that case, I’m going to pretend it means Episode 3 is coming in January.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Likewise, Mr G. HTTP 503 is not a very good prize.

    • adonf says:

      “Error 503 Service Unavailable” Steam got RPS’d!

    • DevinH says:

      My coupons said they aren’t valid for any game released after January 2nd. So the coupons I have for the Valve Complete Pack, any Valve game, or Orcs Must Die! are pretty useless.

    • Zelius says:

      @adonf, I doubt RPS had anything to do with that. Make that the entire internet.

    • Optimaximal says:

      @DevinH then gift them to others.

    • Balobam says:

      Buttless Boy

      First of all, responding to you instantly makes my post look ridiculous. Second, on my coupon it says that it’s not valid on games released after Jan 2, 2012, which means if DOTA 2 isn’t F2P, you still won’t be able to use that coupon on it.

    • sonofsanta says:

      I got a 50% off voucher, that said it was valid from Jan 2nd – March something, but then still applied right away when I clicked the “See Valid Games” button. So I just got Portal 2 for a fiver. Result!

    • Llewyn says:

      @LionsPhil: Nonsense! It’s a 404 with a Flake!

      @Sonofsanta: Isn’t Portal 2 a fiver in today’s sale without any vouchers?

    • Captain Hijinx says:

      There is some small print. You can’t use it on new games.

    • Suits says:

      “25% off any one title on Steam listed with Valve as the publisher.
      Excludes titles released after January 2nd, 2012.”

    • Milky1985 says:

      I got the 50% of voucher as well myself, i think it does say can us up till march so i suspect if they do release any games it will be after that (or they have detected that I already own all the valve games and so its a “go on , buy our next one cheap” :P)

    • allchips says:

      Simply for clicking onto my inventory, I got Portal 2 as a gift. Cripes. This is my kind of sale.

    • sonofsanta says:

      @Llewyn: the swines! It was a tenner at first. Now my happiness is turned to anger :(

  2. zeroskill says:

    Oh no my money!

    Wait what? “Completing objectives will win you either a gift, or a lump of coal. Which will appear in your Steam Inventory. Gifts will either be full games or coupons toward them, while coal can be – of course – crafted into gifts..”

    Crafting games? But can the games have HATS?

    • noilly says:

      yo dawg I heard you like crafting so I put crafting in steam so you can craft while you craft

    • TidiusFF says:

      Buy a hat and place it on your PC. Your game now has a hat.

  3. James G says:

    Perhaps your press account has caused you to miss the most surprising fact. The grand prize of the draw is:

    Every Game on Steam.

    Of course, the chances of winning are lottery scale infinitesimal, but that’s an impressive prize. No idea if its in perpetuity or not.

    Edit: It occurs to me that my comment may read bitter or mocking. Sorry, that was not my intent.

    • Anguy says:

      So the “Epic Holiday Giveaway” will be just that? Every game on steam? I suppose it will work like it worked at the steam summercamp-sale where you had those tickets to improve your chances

    • sinister agent says:

      That sounds like the biggest cursed genie ironic punishment prize ever. Infinite games, forever. You’d spend years of your life installing, starting, changing options, playing for three minutes, then moving on to the next game. Brrr.

    • Edawan says:

      “You must have at least 20 games in your wish-list to be eligible”

      Time to fill it up again.

    • Necroscope says:

      I have 89 on my wishlist so that means at the current sale prices I will be able to buy my top 6 using my budget. I’m wondering if being patient is the key to squeeze more games out by the possibility that games in my top 6 will be on the featured rotation at some point. Dcs black shark, men of war: red tide, sins of a solar empire, silent hunter 4, graw 2, il2 sturmovik

    • MondSemmel says:

      No, the details page of the Epic giveaway thingy says that the grand prize “only” consists of all games already released on Steam in your Steam region.
      (However, that’s presumably already enough for a lifetime.)

    • LionsPhil says:

      The gotcha to that prize is that you will end up with the likes of Petz in your games list, which will be so long as to crash the client every time it starts up. And the blotter of any friend as long as the “Foo now owns…” message is there.

      Edit: Where are you getting 20 from? I see 10. Also, what’s going on with post editing? On one machine I’m logged in but can’t edit them; on this one I can. :|

    • Baines says:

      You can’t even enter the Epic drawing unless you have lumps of coal by January 2nd. With my luck, I’ll get nothing but coupons, so that I won’t even have the chance to fail to win the drawing.

      Coupons that will be worth less than what games are already being reduced to during the sale… The first coupon was 33%? Everything on my wishlist is at least 33% off due to holiday sales already. Most are 50%, and some are 75%. Compared to the sale prices themselves, a post-sale 33% coupon is a booby prize, worth less than a “lump of coal”.

    • CaspianRoach says:

      20 games? It says 10 games on the wishlist needed to me.

    • tenseiga says:

      Remember that the coupons can be applied over and above any existing discounts available. Whether there will be any sales between the coupons validity period remains to be seen.

  4. alms says:

    Had trouble navigating Steam for its sluggishness and now it’s Error 503. Guess it’ll be a massive success :) Hope I will be able to snatch some interesting deal!

    • Suits says:

      Don’t rush, today deals aren’t great, in the sense that there’s nothing we haven’t already seen

  5. SquidInABox says:

    Lets not forget the Award Winning Waves aka “The Best use of Unreal in 2011 as ordained by RPS” is 25% off and in not just an awesome bundle but THE Awesome Indie Bundle.

    It is totally on between The Awesome Indie Bundle and the Mega Indie Bundle. They’re going down.

    • Buttless Boy says:

      Also in that bundle is my personal goatee, The Binding of Isaac, which also won one of those awards. I can’t find that article though so I don’t know what they called the award. Best Use of Poo?

    • SquidInABox says:

      I believe it was the best use of a dead cat. Which is something of niche award although well deserved.

    • zeroskill says:

      What about the SUPER Indie Bundle?

  6. Suits says:

    Inventory is having some trouble due to the high traffic

  7. westyfield says:

    Yeah, Steam is being roundly whipped right now. Best to leave it a few hours, the deals aren’t going anywhere and there’s less chance of something screwing up.

  8. SAeN says:

    I have to say, their deals of the day…’thing’, is rather badly designed. Too much faff involved to see what’s cheap.

    • woodsey says:

      Those are the biggest deals of the day. I’m not sure if its possible to get less faff then that.

    • Vinraith says:

      Incredibly badly designed, isn’t it? You can’t see titles on the front page, you have to actually scroll through a game at a time. Then again, for those of us that don’t want to spend much, I suppose it’s a good design. If I don’t recognize it from the screenshot, I don’t need it.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Yeah, I was at least expecting titles to show up as I rolled over things. Oh boy, a dark brown smudge! There’s a game I really want to snatch up at 75% off.

    • DickSocrates says:

      I was saddened to see the deal for ‘vague green splodge’ wasn’t available in my area. I’d been waiting so long for that to appear on Steam too!

      And they pay people to design this stuff… a list of game titles with no picture would be infinitely better. It’s like a “Guess the game!” competition, only if you win all you get is the option to buy it or not.

    • Veracity says:

      Possibly it’s meant to have the pop-up thingies on mouse hover that Steam usually uses all over the place. The whole site’s so broken at the moment I wouldn’t really want to guess.

    • Cryptoshrimp says:

      It forces users to see all the deals, doesn’t it? Basic supermarket design.

    • Mana_Garmr says:

      It did actually have them the first time I went to the page. I’d imagine the lack of them is just another indication of their traffic-based issues.

    • Zap Brannigan says:

      The workaround that i found for this is to throw anything I am vaguely interested in onto my wishlist when they add the game to steam. When they have a mega sale like this, you just look at your wish list, and there is all the games you might like, and next to the price it shows the discount percent in green. The only possible drawback to this that I see, is that I give valve free marketing info on any game that I might want. That may or may not be a bad thing, depending on your view.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      Yeah, I mean, you have to click to advance the slides, like ten times or something. I was so exhausted after that ordeal, I had to take a nap. And, I mean, the alternative was to page a whole one time down. *One time*. Can you believe the crap they expect me to do to see the titles for sale neatly laid out in a tabbed array of daily-best-selling games/games<$10/games<$5?! I could have sprained my finger.

      This is an outrage, truly.

    • pertusaria says:

      For me at least, the window that comes up when I close a Steam game (in online mode) seems to have all of today’s deals with labels on the pictures. Sadly it doesn’t show price, just percent reduction, but if I were interested in one of the listed games it’d be a good place to start.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I have to say that Steam’s interface in general is a bit badly designed / outdated. There are too many parts of it and it gets a bit busy. They should especially get rid of the alienware thing, the merchandise thing, and the hook up to facebook thing, and all the links at the bottom. The store page should be focused on games alone and leave all that other stuff on different pages. Love the service though.

    • Thermal Ions says:

      Now Vinraith what’s “need” got to do with it? We all know Steam Sales are all about what we want and even sometimes don’t want but buy anyway.

  9. Lobotomist says:

    I would like to bet that Skyrim is going to be featured price reduction game.
    And its going to sell another 10 million and melt the interwebz :D

    • Grygus says:


      So far they have sales on every Bethesda game, including a large pack of games from Morrowind through Fallout 3, but Skyrim is conspicuously and explicitly excluded from the party.

    • piderman says:

      Unless they’re going to have a real blowout, Skyrim is not included in the sale. Neither are Anno 2070, Batman: Arkham City or Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. Saints Row 3 and Serious Sam 3 are though, so expect those to get a daily deal too.

    • Vandelay says:

      Kind of hoping Skyrim won’t be included. I want to wait until the Summer sale, so that the mod tools have been out for a nice long time. Then again a tempting price of sub-£15 is probably unlikely this soon after release, even if it does appear on a daily deal.

  10. Blackcompany says:

    I have that week off after Christmas….wonder what I might do with the time….

  11. Inglourious Badger says:

    Haha, yeah it’s completely broken for me too. I clicked on a button for a free gift but alas, I have received no gift :(

    Also, did anyone notice the Dead Island ‘strategy guide’ is the 18th highest selling item on Steam at the mo and it costs £28.79 (after a discount!)! WTF?!

  12. alundra says:

    What a crazy start, in the very first few minutes Dead Island saw a price drop of 83%, obviously with the usual holiday sale hammering on their servers (and it seems heavier this year, still is, an hour after the launch) it was virtually impossible to reach the end of the checkout process before it was corrected.

    Damn!! It’d been great to grab that deal!

    • Buemba says:

      Yeah, I spent about 20 minutes trying to complete the checkout process for that, but whenever I managed to reach the “confirm purchase” page the price changed to $ 33.49.

      Bummer. Dead Island and Saints Row the Third are the big 2 I’m interested in, but I’m not buying either in this sale unless they get a serious discount.

  13. McDan says:

    Mental really, curse you steam! I wanted money to survive on!

    • Shuck says:

      Luckily for me, I seem to have bought all these games during previous Steam sales. I guess I now officially have no more games to buy.

  14. kyrieee says:

    I learned my lesson a long time ago. They’ll have to bring out some insane deal for me to bite

  15. eulescu says:

    i’ve seen the page once, then i clicked the gift pile . and then guru took an arrow to the knee.
    also fable 3 not available in my region . Shame, liked the first one .

  16. PeterWalgreens says:

    “you currently have 0 items in your Team Fortress 2 Inventory” Wha-wha-What?

    • Bisyss says:

      It’s happened to me, too – my Steam Inventory isn’t working either. It looks like everything is still there, it’s just not displaying.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Valve’s christmas present to everyone is to remove all the cruft from TF2, forever. You’re free! Free from grinding for hats! And the game is back!

    • Vinraith says:


      If only!

    • RiptoR says:


      One can only dream… I stopped playing because of all the craftable nonsense. Great game if you can find a decent server, but those are too hard to come by these days.

  17. Spider Jerusalem says:

    What is this “Not available in your region” nonsense?

    • Shuck says:

      It’s part of Steam being hammered by heavy traffic. I can only load that front page right now, and every time I do, I see completely different games tagged with “Not available in your region.”

  18. magnus says:

    Grrrrrrrr, it’s just taken me 2 hours to get Bunch Of Heroes and Just Cause 2!

    • magnus says:

      Bunch of Heroes? Bag Of Shit more like, too hard on solo, damn, why do developers bother doing this and there’s no unlockable stuff either! :( (sigh)

  19. mr.ioes says:

    Metro 2033 once again for ~3 bucks *tip*.

  20. Spiny says:

    Dear Santa,

    please send Valve some bigger servers.


    • thatcity says:

      A LOT of powerful servers please!
      anyway,portal 2 at <6€ is THE deal to me

  21. Lars Westergren says:

    Reddit /gaming is usually just 95% recycled meme pictures, but when the Steam sales comes you can get some interesting tips/discussions for once. Look at the SPAZ thread at today’s deals for instance, where one of the developers (allegedly one of the developers…) chip in.

    link to

  22. SuperNashwanPower says:

    Steam is still borked. Everyone go away so I can pay. Thank you :)

  23. Tainted says:

    When it finally lets me in I’ll be picking up Metro 2033. Been meaning to get it for the last few sales. I have Skyrim, Lego Harry Potter and LA Noire all as Christmas presents this weekend… But I’ll play it in late January time I guess :-)

  24. Iskariot says:

    I have given up. I wanted to buy a bunch of games that are on offer now, but the site crashes and crashes. It can’t be done. As far as I am concerned it could be just a hoax. What good is it to me if I can not complete the deal.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      Don’t worry, things tend to calm down after the first couple of hours.

    • InternetBatman says:

      It’s finally working now. Man they must have gotten freaking hammered.

  25. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    Steam, I’d like to give you my money. Why won’t you let me give you my money?
    You make me sad, Steam. :(

  26. drewski says:

    Too much cheap games traffic make Steam crash like decade old Windows 95 install.

    I’ll have a closer look later. The two really good deals I was interested in looked region locked out of Australia though :-(

  27. SuperNashwanPower says:

    America has buggered off. Now we can buy things :)

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      OK spoke too soon. Cant get into my gift list :( << SAD FACE

    • Buttless Boy says:

      What time do you think it is in America? Except for Hawaii it’s early to late evening.

      EDIT: Wait, fuck, I’m an idiot.

  28. AmateurScience says:

    The Warner Brother Bundle is spectacular.

    Both Batmans, + DLC, Bastion, a couple o’ lego games and some other stuff for £40.

    It will be mine. Oh yes. It will be mine.

  29. Grawl says:

    If you need help with the achievements, make sure to check out .

  30. Jeroen D Stout says:

    Purchasing games is the greatest game of them all.

    And it makes me sick.

  31. Morte66 says:

    The commerce side of it is working again. Now I just need to download my purchases: Portal 2 and some game about Amnesia somebody recommended, forget who it was.

  32. Kleppy says:

    I played Runaway: A Road Adventure a few months ago and enjoyed it immensely, so the Pendulo pack is perfect. Thanks Steam.

  33. grundus says:

    I think I have all the games I want, but Steam does have a habit of surprising me. Right now I’m considering Amnesia, but probably won’t get it. Other than that, I think I might see if the DX:HR DLC goes super cheap and I might get the id pack that doesn’t have Rage or Quake 4 in it, mainly because I want Quake and Doom 1 & 2 and their expansions which would cost about the same… Wow, this is really boring.

    Other than that, if Arkham City, Skyrim, Dead Island or… Oh, L.A. Noire are less than £10 I will most likely get them too. Dead Island would actually have to be £5 or less. I don’t really want to, but… Yeah.

  34. Suits says:

    Payment transaction failed huh?

  35. Enikuo says:

    My pointer finger has seized up from too much Orcs Must Die! And, in my attempt to get my wishlist up to 20, I realized that I’m running out of things I want to buy from Steam, which makes me think I should possibly get a life.

  36. Skabooga says:

    I thought I was above all this sale nonsense, but then I saw the Magicka: Stars are Left expansion was only $2, so I snagged that, and while it was downloading, I started to check out other games (Ooo, Serious Sam: BFE is 25% off now) before snapping out of it a few minutes later. Steam, you are too crafty.

  37. P4p3Rc1iP says:

    Hmm, it seems I have not received anything for completing the Orcs Must Die! achievement…

    • Milky1985 says:

      Same, did the anomoly earth achivement and didn’t seem to get anythign either, not sure if i got coal but its in a place i can’t see or something

  38. Bhazor says:

    Ahhh the big christmas sale.
    The one time of the year Steam is actually cheaper than Amazon.

  39. Tams80 says:

    I don’t think I’ll buy anything this year. I just don’t have the time, money nor will; already have over 100 games I’ve barely touched and am supposed to fit revision in there somewhere.

    Orcs Must Die is very tempting though, but by the time I actually play more than half an hour it will probably normally be at that price.

  40. Moraven says:

    I got a free copy of Orcs Must Die and DLC from doing the Deck The Halls achy. What fun.

    Have not got anything yet from doing Anomaly achy. Not even a lump of coal. =/

    • TomxJ says:

      so are you saying you got the game you were playing as a gift? Thats rubbish.
      Or can you do that achievement on the demo?

  41. InternetBatman says:

    This is pretty awesome, and the range of prizes is much better than the summer sale but I have to say I liked the summer sale better. I got a lot of cool dlc for a lot of indies I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise, and frankly went a bit overboard. I’m either more reserved now or I just already have 2/3s of the games required for presents.

    Got 50% off a Valve title which is useless for me (don’t terribly like Valve games besides portal), and 50% off Farming simulator which is worse than useless.

    • aldo_14 says:

      I ‘won’ 50% off of City Interactive games, dated after the sale.

      Ganes that are all currently 50% off anyway.

      And pish.

      Cheers. Next time can I have some coal instead?

  42. Nemon says:

    It would be fun if everyone and their mum purchased the S.T.A.L.K.E.R-package, turning the tides and putting Stalker II – No More Silly Punctuation back on track (punctuation DLC optional at launch).

  43. icetiger says:

    i am still trying to get the secondary gift, it says ” A Mobius Achievement: simply go to your Steam Inventory and see what you got, then we give you something else just for looking for that.” and somehow when i get to the inventory, i get nothing else, even when i go there and go back.

  44. Donkeyfumbler says:

    Woohoo – they gave me Portal 2 just for logging in and clicking the gift pile :) All a bit confusing though – at first I wasn’t sure what they were telling me I had just got, clicked the unpack gift button and nothing seemed to happen so I then checked the store page out, at which point it told me I now owned Portal 2. Currently downloading.
    A friend has also just got 25% off a single game, which can’t be bad either.
    Not surprising Steam inspires such customer loyalty.

  45. Snack says:

    Fable “NOT AVAILABLE IN YOUR REGION” …so much for globalization.

  46. GBolt says:

    Really great gifts. I got four coupons so far. Two for games I already own (one of which is for games I already own thrice) and the others are for games I don’t deeply wish for (well, it’s not really bad, but since I get a better discount if I buy them right now instead of using the coupon, it’s kind of pointless). Oh, well, I shouldn’t be complaining. Thanks, Valve.

  47. beema says:

    Glad to hear that I’m not the only one who found the sale/promotion initially confusing as all get out. The way it’s presented is like “Heres some stuff you can do and oh also this stuff maybe and sometimes this stuff and heres some more random stuff!” Feels very chaotic. Once I figured out what the hell was going on, the whole thing is pretty cool. Of course my free random gift is one that is completely worthless to me. Giftable copies of Hl2 EP1 (I don’t know anyone who wants this) and a 33% off coupon for any Valve game… but I already own every valve game. But it’s free so whatever. I love that Valve has these community events (and ludicrous sales). No other company out there is this engaged and nice to their customers. Of course the first thing I see in the Steam forums is people complaining about stuff. “WHY ARE THERE GIFTS in CS:S? YOU SUCK VALVE, GET YOUR STUPID GIFTS OUT OF HERE” ughhh why are Valve fans such entitled obnoxious little shits?

  48. johnpeat says:

    I’m a bit confused by their idea of a ‘gift’ here, really…

    Most of what they’re giving-out are vouchers for %-off specific games – but the vouchers aren’t usable until the sale ends and the discounts are usually LESS than the sale is offering on the same games…

    I’m not sure what meaning of the term ‘gift’ applies here – “Game X is $5 now but if you buy it with your ‘gift’ after Jan 2nd it will be $7.50 instead”!?!?!?!?

    There do appear to be some nice gifts in there – free games, big discounts which could be applied to (say) Skyrim etc. – but I’m assuming they will also not be ‘usable’ until Jan 2nd either and who knows what will happen to prices between now and then.

    I think what I’m saying is “most of the gifts are pointless shit” – which is a shame, really. The Summer Sale offered actual DLC and other bits for games – not worthless ‘vouchers’.

    p.s. aside from free games, the best I’ve seen so far is 50% off any Bethesda title (so Skyrim then) – but at Steam’s prices that’s barely cheaper than ordering it from Gamestation anyway so hmmmmm