Leaked Steam winter sale document indicates daily and flash sales might be gone for good


An official Winter Sale postmortem from Valve, intended to only be seen by partners, was accidentally posted to the SteamVR page and quickly copied by the eager minds at SteamDB. In it, they explain how the no-timed-deals structure of the sale was effective at increasing sales, eyes on pages and other interactions, making it the most successful Winter Sale in years as far as their metrics go.

Now the sale is over, you probably need some good free games to play until payday.

Here’s some abridged highlights:

  • Dropping Trading Cards for using the discovery system resulted in three times as many product page views as previous events, as a large portion of Steam’s userbase looked at 36 pages a day for their three cards.
  • Due to the layout of Discovery, this meant a lot more wishlist additions, up just under 200%. Some of those, naturally, turned into actual sales.
  • It’s hinted at in the post, but this also means a huge number of Steam users now have a much more personalised store front page. Games they’ve wishlisted will be noted by the internal system, as will those they marked Not Interested, lowering that genre’s priority. With the slightly sinister tone all modern-day data-gathering generates, it should mean better recommendations from the algorithms in place, more games in front of more interested customers and more sales across the board.
  • There’s no numbers on how much more $$$ was made during the sale overall, but they do say it was a resounding success on that front.
  • This is not only for the most popular games, but specifically those outside the top 500 did well too. There can be an assumption within the community and for developers that while Steam is more than great if you do well, setting you up for life, those down in the doldrums are rarely put in front of customers or make much money. In this sale, they saw a four-times increase on traffic to these games, and a 45% increase in revenue generated compared to last winter.

This is some fascinating information, and probably means this style of sale is here to stay. However, I’m not sure if it means the total death of flash and daily deals. The top of the post states very specifically that this was done because Valve didn’t think everyone would have the time for flash-deal tracking and a huge mini-game during their Christmas family time. All the stats are compared purely to winter sales, rather than all the different discounts Valve do throughout the year.

The up-shot of this is that it’s possible summer sales will continue to be more in-depth affairs, while Winter will bring more casual activities – rewards for reading comics, browsing store pages, adding games to wishlists and so on. I certainly felt less pressure and a higher willingness to buy knowing that no matter when I paid in, it wasn’t suddenly going to get lower later on. Call it messed up brain chemistry, but while I may want to buy something on Christmas Eve, chances are when the flash deal for that game rolls around on Boxing Day I won’t care any more. It’s about feeding impulses, rather than actual logical thought. To that end, I spent all Christmas playing a newly-bought copy of Borderlands 2.

You can read the fullpost on SteamDB, if it interests you. Would you like to see Flash and Daily deals return?