Steam sales are so ubiquitous that PC players often have to decide between buying a game on day one or waiting for a Steam sale. Up until now, a developer had to work with Valve to decide when their games would go on sale. Today on the Steamworks Development forums, Valve announced that devs will soon be able to set their own sale prices and times. The new changes were posted on Reddit as well.
For Steam users, this may not be a big change, but it gives developers more control over the process than they had before. Developers can either decide to participate in an upcoming week-long deal or set their own custom sale. Week-long deals can be joined up to two months ahead of time and studios can set the discount percentage for their titles. Custom sales can also be set up to two months in advance. With a custom sale developers choose their desired discount percentage and the length of the sale, up to a two-week maximum.
Discounts must also be spaced two months apart, so developers can't just keep their titles in a discounted state. This will space sales out a bit, which should prevent some of the race-to-the-bottom discounts that some developers fear are becoming the norm. Castle Doctrine developer Jason Rohrer argued last month that Steam sales are bad for fans and developers.
"Your fans love your games and eagerly await your next release. They want to get your game as soon as it comes out, at full price. But they are foolish to do that, because a sale is right around the corner. Even in economic terms, the extra utility of playing the game early, at release, is not big enough to offset the extra cost for most people . It makes more sense to wait, unless they love you and your work so much that they're willing to throw economic reason out the window. It's nice to have fans that love your work that much. And these are the fans that you kick in the teeth when you put your game on sale," wrote Rohrer.
"A culture of rampant sales is a culture of waiting. 'I'll buy it later, during a sale.' Launch weeks become weak, and developers grow to depend on sales for financial survival," he added. "This waiting game is likely decimating your player base and critical mass at launch by spreading new players out over time. And your fans, who are silly enough to buy the game at launch and waste money, get to participate in a weaker, smaller player community."