Welcome to another edition of the PCG Q&A, with a twist! This week we thought we'd discuss what we've bought so far in the Steam Summer Sale 2019, but in the form of a back-and-forth discussion about game buying habits. We'd love to hear about what you've been buying in the comments below.
If you need recommendations for the sale, check out our picks for games under $10, and our constantly updated list of the best PC games for broader advice on our favourite games around right now.
Samuel Roberts, UK editor in chief: So far in this Steam sale, I've bought Dusk, Baba is You and Stalker: Call of Pripyat. I blame the last one on my recent viewing of Chernobyl and our top 100 discussion, and Dusk is the kind of retro shooter I've been after for a long time. I actually don't know anything about Baba is You, but everyone else on Team PCG seems to like it, so that's the story of how I spent money on that. What have you folks bought in the Steam summer sale so far?
Phil, PC Gamer magazine editor: A thing to remember is that this Steam sale fell in the specific post-payday window where I'm most susceptible to impulse purchases. Another thing to remember is that I skipped the last few Steam sales, so it's been a while since I splurged. What I'm trying to say is that I made a lot of bad choices, but there are reasons for that.
My purchases can be broadly sorted into three categories: good, inadvisable and 'you dipshit'. The good: I picked up Dusk and—based on Tyler's review—Amid Evil. I'm well up for some old-school style FPS fun, and already I've had a good time with Dusk's grimdark cultist campaign. I also picked up the Dark Souls games. I love both Bloodborne and Sekiro and figure it's only a matter of time before I'm tempted by From's most famous series.
The inadvisable: my usual trick of using Steam sales as a way to hoover up the various DLC for games that I still play. That meant Crusader King II's Holy Fury expansion, Civ VI's Gathering Storm and Rise and Fall expansions, and a whole bunch of DLC both big and small for Cities: Skylines. I've been looking for an excuse to dive back into all three games, but the total came to… £103. I clicked purchase anyway. I am full of regrets.
And then there's the stupidest purchase of the sale: Team Fortress 2's Jungle Inferno Contracts Pass. It only cost £1.57, but I still feel like it's the worst financial decision I've made this year. I only jumped into TF2 because I was trying to figure out what the hell the sale's Grand Prix meta event even was. Suddenly, I'm buying a pass to a contracts feature that was introduced sometime after I last played the game three years ago. If nothing else it's a warning about Valve's terrifying ability to extract money from idiots.
Samuel: I feel there's a 'Too Real' element to your DLC-hoovering habit during sales, Phil. Unfortunately, I'm the kind of idiot who does that for games he doesn't even own. I'm sure Stellaris is a fantastic game—I've never played it, and I think I own all of its DLC except the one about corporations. The same applies to Endless Legend. I'll get to these games someday—but when? When? Probably when my hands don't function well enough for me to play anything but turn-based games.
My long-term strategy with the 4X genre is to play them all when I retire, or whenever my digital consciousness is uploaded into some kind of nightmare MMO—whichever comes first. What about everyone else?
Jeremy Peel, PC Gamer magazine deputy editor: I have to say, I haven’t developed a strategy meta for the purchasing of grand strategy games. That’s a new one on me, Samuel. Instead I’ve experienced previous sales, Humble Bundles, and what have you as a kind of immersion therapy. I now look at the Steam front page during the Grand Prix and feel nothing—no fear, no excitement, with a collectedness I experience nowhere else in my life.
I’m a man who enjoys things in phases—playing the best of a genre or series one after the other, delving into a developer’s entire back catalogue—before suddenly losing interest and going off to explore something else. These days I know myself well enough not to buy anything I won’t be playing imminently, since in a year’s time I might not care for it at all.
So far that’s meant buying only American Truck Simulator, since I’m deep into a bender of road trip games, and this is reputed to be the finest. I also picked up the whole West Coast Bundle, not wanting to repeat my expensive Euro Truck habit of paying piecemeal for strips of France and Italy just before I roll up on their doorstep with a ton of pallets. SCS has improved the detail and beauty of its routes year-on-year lately, and I expect the newest trails will be the most moving it’s ever produced.
Tom Senior, UK man who owns too many games: I bought nothing in the Steam sale this year. The weight of my backlog is such that I can't bear the thought of having more games just for the sake of having them. I thought about picking up something dense that I could really sink a Sunday afternoon into, like Factorio, but know deep down I'll never get round to it. To be honest it's a nice problem to have!
There's still so much I want to play that came out this year, like Anno, and I want to take another run at Divinity: Original Sin, or even Pillars of Eternity. That's another one I almost bought: Pillars 2. A quality RPG set on an archipelago full of bandits and monsters? I should be all over that but, for this sale at least, I will avoid bloating my library list any further. I have failed Valve, and failed myself. Maybe the next sale will lure me in.
Fraser Brown, news editor: There is no method to my purchasing habits. I'm completely at the mercy of my whims, and occasionally a 'drunk buyer' who's surprised to find new things in his library. This is why I'm juggling three large JRPGs at the moment, and that's just the tip of this shameful iceberg. I haven't bought much during recent sales, however, because I don't really have much time to look up from what I'm playing at the moment (everything). But all it took to make me break this time was Andy mentioning that he'd bought Endless Space 2, inspiring me to buy all the DLC for both Endless Space 2 and Endless Legend and immediately reinstalling both.
Big ol' strategy games are definitely a specific weakness of mine, especially when they boast Amplitude's exceptional faction designs, not that I've got much more control over my wallet when it comes to RPGs or adventure games or yet another bloody Sims expansion. £20 worth of DLC isn't too bad, though.
Unfortunately, as I type this, I've started looking at Steam again. Oh dear.