Valve are the Masters of Manipulation
Steam’s Annual Summer Getaway Sale started on July 11th this year (great birthday present to me!) and already Mr. Doc and I have amassed 14 new PC games, the majority of which we haven’t even downloaded yet. And the sale doesn’t end until July 22nd. Both of us are trying our hardest to resist, but every day something goes on sale that we just can’t live without.
A recent article on attackofthefanboy.com called “,” details five key ways that Valve draws gamers to their sales: artificial scarcity, psychological reactance, a bias towards completion, commitment and consistency, and random rewards.
Artificial scarcity/psychological reactance: Valve knows that gamers love sales and by having different sales both everyday and flash sales that last only eight hours they instill a sense of fear that the games on sale might not be on sale again. For instance, July 17th’s sales featured Deus Ex: Human Revolution for $2.99. That is 85% of its usual price of $19.99. As Mr. Doc said, “Deals like that just don’t happen very often!” The radical price drops and time limits on sales cause many gamers to purchase more games than they usually would.
A bias towards completion: Gamers like to finish things. It’s the reason I have over 250 hours invested in Skyrim and Mr. Doc has over 1000 hours invested in Final Fantasy VII. Valve offers Steam Achievements for purchasing games during the Summer Sale and this year they have started offering trading cards. Each game awards cards which in turn fill up a progress bar. We gamers love to fill up progress bars only to have it start again each time it fills up.
Commitment and consistency: Gamers tend to be consistent. Most of us have a certain type of game that we enjoy more than others. Me, I like Role Playing Games or RPGs, preferably large ones like the Elder Scrolls and Fallout series. Mr. Doc, on the other hand, loves his First Person Shooters like Call of Duty, Halo, or Borderlands. Valve recognized this and every eight hours they have a community poll. Three games are offered for voting on and the one with the most votes will be featured in the next flash sale. Voting on a game that wins sends a sense of commitment to those gamers who voted for it and they are more likely to purchase it while it’s on sale.
Random rewards: The tie in to all these is that Valve knows gamers like to be rewarded. It’s like perks in Fallout New Vegas, you only get one every other level but they change with each level up and with your play style so you never really know what perks you’ll be able to choose. By picking the games on sale at random, Valve is ensuring that gamers check back every so often to see what’s on sale. Everyday at 1 PM EST Mr. Doc pulls up Steam’s website and we Oooo and Ahhh over what’s on sale that day. He votes in every community choice poll and has purchased at least two different games that he voted for that have won the poll.
Valve is a master of manipulation and the internet is rife with memes featuring the Steam Sale. I would like to offer this gem from the Attack of the Fanboy article in closing as I feel it sums up my feelings exactly.
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