Steam sales are bloody confusing. That's just a fact, as you'll find listed in any Oxford Bumper Book Of Facts. Back in the olden days, when Steam had seventeen games on it, you could find your way around them, and come away with armfuls of games for 11p. And the best parts of it were the publisher bundles. Big name pubs would put together their entire Steam catalogue, and sell it to you at an extraordinary price. £50 for every THQ game, for instance, and you'd be set for months. But with Steam a wholly different, far busier place, this Christmas sees a terrifying 3859 games at sale prices. No, I typed that correctly. And the publisher bundles are few and far between.
So I thought it might be useful to find the publisher bundles that still remain, hidden in there, and not mentioned on the sales pages, as well as some of the highlights of game series collections.
Which is easier said than done. Although a lot easier done thanks to the sterling work of SteamDB and their tracking of the tangled madness. Even so, even their database is bowing under the weight of the completely dysfunctional store. It strikes me as a peculiar kind of daftness that Valve don't put more effort into making the sales more accessible, rather than simply plucking a lucky few to be highlighted on the front page, and then dumping the rest in a mad, unfathomable splurge.
But collections there are. There are even a couple of publisher collections remaining. So here we go:
The best of the bunch is undoubtedly Eidos's reliable Anthology collection. There isn't space on the internet to list all the games in here, but amongst them are all the Deus Exes, all the Hitmans, Just Cause 1 and 2 and all their DLC, all the Thief games including this year's, and all the Tomb Raiders (except for the very recently Lara Croft II). This gets you the whole lot half price. And keep an eye on it, as this is an offer over the whole sale, so it could drop a lot lower for 24 hours. Or you could get just the Tomb Raiders for £30.
You could also pick up all the Total War games in the Grand Master Collection for £60. That's again half price, and gets you everything, along with all the DLC. And again, look out for further price drops.
1C are the other publisher who reliably collect everything together, and for £80 you can get their Complete Collection. That's a whopping 58 games, although with a fair amount of dross, but still including all the King's Bounties, UFO Aftermath and Aftershock, all the Men Of Wars, and the Elven Legacy series.
Daedalic have pushed things far further, gathering their motley crew of adventures for 80% off, giving you their Armageddon Bundle for £26. That gets you all three of the (increasingly disappointing) Deponia games, the charming The Whispered World, Memoria, both Edna & Harveys (yuck) and The Night Of The Rabbit, A New Beginning, 1954 Alcatraz, and The Dark Eye: Chains Of Satinav. That's a whopping £105 off.
PopCap (remember them?) have 34 games for just £28 in their Complete Pack, saving you £45. It contains all the games you already have, along with their oddities and (actually really good) hidden object games.
The Binding Of Isaac Collection is rather stretching the definition of "collection" with just the two games. But cor, what a bargain at 90% off. You get the original roguelike frenzy of The Binding Of Isaac, as well as DLC pack Wrath Of The Lamb, for 49p!
In similarly cheap territory, you can get Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition and Shadow Warrior: Classic Redux together for a mere 64p. Clearly they're both ancient, but also classics, and at that price it's crazy not to.
Today there's the Stronghold Complete Pack. That contains all of the hit-and-miss castle-based strategy series, which is Stronghold, Stronghold 2, Stronghold Crusader, Stronghold Crusader Extreme, Stronghold Legends, and Stronghold 3 Gold. You get the lot for a really quite fantastic £4.50.
Also just for another seven hours is L.A. Noire. It never clicked for me - it felt like someone trying to invent the adventure genre without having played through the 90s. But right now you can get Rockstar's rare miss, along with its DLC bundle, for a tiny £3. Which is a double-extra-good offer, as buying them separately in the sale would cost over £7.
Microsoft have put in a better effort in a sale that ends later today, with a bunch of RTS games for £19. That's Age Of Empires II and DLC The Forgotten, Age Of Empires III: Complete, Age Of Mythology: Extended Edition, and Rise Of Nations: Extended Edition, which would ordinarily cost £76, and even in the sale the bundle saves you another £8.
The Portals are always extra-cheap every Steam sale, and this Baby Jesus Birthday is no exception. Both are 80% off individually, but you can get the pair of them for a snippet cheaper yet, at £3.59.
Or of course you could splash out and get the Valve Complete Pack, for all the no users of Steam who haven't bought/played them yet. That's CS:GO, CS: Source, CS: Condition Zero, Portal, Portal 2, Left 4 Dead, Left 4 Dead 2, TF2, TF Classic, Day Of Defeat, Day Of Defeat: Source, Half-Life, Half-Life: Blue Shift, Half-Life: Opposing Force, Half-Life Deathmatch: Source, Half-Life: Source, Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Deathmatch, Half-Life 2: Lost Coast, Half-Life 2: Episode One, Half-Life 2: Episode Two, Deathmatch Classic, and of course the mighty Ricochet. You get all that for £19, instead of the £76 it would normally set you back. That runs out by the end of tomorrow.
If you have taken leave of all your senses, you could spend an idiotic £108.74 on the Call Of Duty: Ghosts Complete Bundle. This gives you the blah-blah game that is still hilariously RRPd at forty quid for a snip at £30, along with every piece of its incessant stream of DLC (a wolf skin for 25% off its usual £1.69!), and saves you an extra £23 for buying it bundled. Or you could stab yourself in the back of your hand with a screwdriver.
Lastly (it's not lastly, there are loads more bundles on there, hidden away for you to find), you can pick up the Saints Row Ultimate Franchise Pack for £25, saving you £56. As it was console only, pleasingly it doesn't come with the revolting and really not very good Saints Row, but rather after things start rapidly picking up. Saints Row 2 is still a fairly creepy little thing, but it starts to show where the series is heading. Then The Third is a glorious playground of insanity, no longer lamely ripping off GTA but finding its own place. And there's the epic, extraordinary Saints Row IV: Game Of The Century Edition. Plus the abundance of DLC.
Do drop any other neat offers or hidden bundles you've spotted in the comments.