Steam’s summer sale opens with a mini-game gimmick

Saliens

It’s time to lash your wallet to the mast again, because these are choppy waters for anyone with a poor grip on their money. Steam’s summer sale has started, bringing its usual boatload of discounts across the majority of games on the mega-storefront. For the first time in a while the event is accompanied by a mini-game gimmick. By playing the browser-based Summer Saliens (yes, they really did name it that) you can earn a chance to win games from a handful of Valve-picked themes up until the sale ends on July 5th.

While the Steam site itself is currently on fire due to hundreds of thousands of eager people throwing themselves at the shop simultaneously, those who do get in will notice a new button leading to the Saliens game. Quite frankly, if it weren’t for the prizes available, it wouldn’t be worth the time of day – it’s a very poor defensive shooter even by cheap web-game standards, with you frantically clicking on oncoming foes to zap them with lasers while mashing on the number keys to deploy special abilities.

You probably shouldn't play this much.

It’s nice to see Valve put a little bit of extra effort into this particular sale, especially since they’ve been playing a more hands-off role lately bordering on irresponsibly absent, but it’s still clearly the absolute bare minimum, and a far cry from the days of the Potato Sack ARG, which was interesting and clearly had some thought and love put into it. Saliens? Were I feeling uncharitable, I might have said it was NewGrounds quality, but with today’s announcement of Nightmare Cops, that bar is clearly far higher.

Play the Saliens game all your want (although it’s a bit rubbish, so don’t do too much of that if you value your time), but as there are no time-limited discounts or flash sales going on, there’s no rush to spend your money today. A little bird tells me that our new Alice is working on a general RPS sales recommendation list, so keep an eye open for that on Monday if you want to know where the really good stuff is.

33 Comments

  1. Laini says:

    Nothing will beat the one from summer 2015, but that’s mostly because of the music link to youtube.com

    But yeah this one just seems lazy and poorly designed. Maybe it’s just my laptop screen but on some stages you can’t see the cursor very well which makes aiming impossible.
    Doesn’t help that the first one I finished crashed or whatever so I didn’t earn any XP.

  2. mitrovarr says:

    The studio that produced Half-Life 2, everybody!

  3. woodsey says:

    Since RPS has taken a pretty firm stance against Steam’s business decisions of late (which is fair enough), wouldn’t it make sense to not recommend stuff from their sale?

    • N'Al says:

      I think you’re confusing taking issue with asking for a boycott, here. RPS – like many others – did the former, but not the latter – like many others.

      • woodsey says:

        I am neither asking them to boycott all Steam news nor under the impression that they said they’d do so.

        It just seems a bit odd to do a sales recommendations list when the site’s staff have (as far as I can tell, unanimously) criticised them for being monopolistic and ethically questionable.

        • Hoot says:

          In all fairness, and by looking at the competition, I’m all for a Steam monopoly. It’s simple. The selection of games is brilliant. The sales are brilliant. The ability to open a chat box and talk to a friend is brilliant (despite Discord being the main deal these days).

          Long live the great God Gaben!

          (Also, HL3 soon?)

    • April March says:

      Well, technically they are not recommending anything, just informing you that it exists!

      But more seriously, there’s room for nuance. It’s possible to think Steam’s business decisions have been bad while still ackowledging a lot of RPS readers use it and like it. There are no absolutes in reality.

      • woodsey says:

        Announcing the Steam sale is fine. I was talking about the upcoming list referred to at the bottom of the article.

        • Darth Gangrel says:

          The games themselves deserve to be pointed out. If anyone is extremely offended by Steam’s business decisions, they can search for an alternate storefront instead if available, like GOG. If the game has to be run using Steam, then either don’t play it or perhaps buy it at humble bundle or other store (don’t know how much Steam profits from third-party vendors, but probably significantly less than when bought directly through Steam).

          • welverin says:

            Gabe mentioned in an interview years ago that they get no money from keys distributed outside Steam, so if you don’t buy it through Steam they get no money.

    • Jimbo says:

      Why make a principled stand when you can make money throwing stones at Steam and then make more money advertising Steam’s sale?

      • emotionengine says:

        *yawn*

        • frogmanalien says:

          Considering RPS article literally criticized Steam choices as “abdicate(d) Valve from all responsibility for what it sells, while continuing to happily take a cut of all the money raised.” it does seem something of a double standard to report on (thus earn advertising revenue, take advantage of SEO relating to, etc) a sale.

          Maybe this is unfair, and I know RPS are not suggesting Steam is Evil, but it does seem rather unbalanced to report that Steam are profiting from sales revenue of Bad things (and that’s Bad behavior) only to drive people towards it (indeed, I rather hold the press to a higher standard than Steam, expecting them to be even handed in their criticism and consistent in tone much more than I do a store. I probably wouldn’t enjoy a political newspaper article highlighting a politician’s support for a Bad thing, then highlighting that politicians donation page!).

  4. KDR_11k says:

    The gameplay mostly consists of mashing LMB and the 1 key, playing it for long will just give you RSI. Keeping the window open is enough to get that time registered for the game giveaways but I’m not sure it’s worth keeping such a window open for days just to win some cheap game.

    • mashkeyboardgetusername says:

      I do like how this encourages you to stay on the minigame page to rack up time rather than, I dunno, looking around the store at new games you might spend money on. Seems a little backwards for what Valve presumably wants, but hey ho.

      Incidentally, you can rack up about 1000 points by picking a hard square then going AFK, if anyone wants to get all the minigame unlocks without getting RSI.

    • Dust and Cobwebs says:

      You don’t actually have to have it open to accumulate time. In fact, you don’t even need to have the Steam client or website open at all! Given the quality of the game, this is without a doubt the best way to play.

    • Baggypants says:

      Map lmb to a key and set the key repeat up. RSI begone.

  5. Baines says:

    Since the store front is currently down, I’m guessing that Valve learned nothing from the year it ran a cookie clicker event during a sale.

    Because, obviously, if your sales already overload your servers on a bi-annual basis, you really want to throw fuel onto the fire.

  6. SaintAn says:

    Any good gay visual novel games on steam yet since they lifted the restrictions?

  7. April March says:

    Man, you weren’t kidding about how bad the minigame is. At some point I realized it would be a more pleasureable way to exchange my time for games to just work at my workplace, then use my sallary to buy games.

  8. Stargazer86 says:

    Never again will Steam sales be like they were in eons past when you could actually win free games. I remember one particular Christmas sale that got me a free copy of Super Meat Boy. And gone are the days of 75% flash deals. 50% is often now the highest percentage I see in my wishlist. All of that in exchange for being able to return games. Was it worth it? Probably. I still miss those really great deals though.

    • malkav11 says:

      I am in favor of being allowed to return games, as, you know, a basic consumer right, but I would much rather be able to get games at steep discounts than have a return function I’ve used exactly once since it was implemented.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Well, you can win free games in this one. That’s the whole point of the game. It’s just vanishingly unlikely now.

    • shoptroll says:

      Remember that one year where they were offering games in bulk to encourage gifting? Those were heady times.

  9. and its man says:

    Why aren’t we lasering humans anyway?

    Aliens don’t shoot each other. That’s just earthling propaganda.

  10. kud13 says:

    Why would you ever advocate for a monopoly?

    GOG does a good job being a competitor, even though it’s selection is notably smaller (not all publishers embrace the DRM-free model. Yet. )

    Still, competition is good. Why would you want to turn PC into a single walled garden?

  11. kud13 says:

    This sale is OK. I’m looking reducing my backlog, so I’m trying to limit the buying.

    That being said, there’s a bunch of Platinum games that are under $10 CAD, and after Bayonetta I’m basically sold on everything Platinum.

  12. Don Reba says:

    And people said Valve didn’t make games.

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