Valve's Steam holiday sales are well-known as a way to stock up on both new and old games on the cheap. Most gamers know the rules of the sale, though: never buy a game that isn't a limited-time flash sale or daily feature unless it's the last day, because if you do then you're all but guaranteeing that the price will drop soon after you make the purchase.
This rule can take a lot of work to follow, though, since it means you have to not only check the sale every day, but also keep coming back to see what the flash sale options are -- and they change every few hours. Things are going to be a bit different this holiday season, though.
Instead of having featured games and flash sales that temporarily drop prices into a deep discount, the upcoming fall and winter sales events will feature static sale prices that stay the same until the sale is over. There will still be games highlighted on the front page, and those highlights will last 24-48 hours like they have in the past. There just won't be any price changes associated with being a highlighted game.
Valve claims that it "is not a major change," which is technically true; the majority of discounted games during Steam sales maintain a single price throughout, so for most games there won't be any change at all. For those games that would receive a discount, Valve hopes to add more value to the sale by giving gamers a larger window of opportunity to buy them at a lower price. It's unclear as yet whether this price will be the same as the standard Steam sale discount or if it will be closer to flash or featured sale pricing.
On one hand, this could be just what Valve needs to reinvigorate the Steam sales. The gimmicks associated with the sales seemed to be getting increasingly lame during recent events, reducing the sales to little more than a waiting game to see what popped up on the new features and flash sales. Offering static discounts could let Valve focus on the sale theme a bit more o,r heaven forbid, just offer a basic sale with decent prices and drop all of the grinding to earn giveaways. Letting customers buy with confidence could go a long way toward making the sales enjoyable again.
On the other hand, some members of the Valve community think the flash sales and finding the best discount is part of the fun of these events. Cutting out the variable pricing takes out some of the excitement and makes the Steam sale just another online sale. They may also worry that the discounts won't be as good for the static pricing as they would have been during limited-time flash or featured sales.
Love or hate the change, we won't have long to wait to see how it goes over. The fall sale is rumored to run from November 25 to December 1, with a winter sale following on December 22 through January 4.