I am of course talking about the Steam Summer, the sinisterly nice offering to us from Valve on their Steam gaming client. Given that in the past two years (give or take), there has never been a moment where Steam hasn't had at least two offers on, this explosion of offers is the firework show that sets Steam apart from miserly old EA Origin, with their policy of "being nice would cheapen the medium".
'They may be evil overlords, but they are the best evil overlords a boy could wish for'
But the Steam sale is about more than just about sales, this year more than ever it would seem. The classic Steam Sale formula of having a set of deals every day seems to have been switched in favour of more lavish, and complicated system, though with admittedly more potential on the giftometer. The layout has changed to 9 games for 30+ hours, rotating at longer intervals, but Valve, cleverly calculating that this would give you ample time to sleep, have also cooked up both 'The Flash Sale' and 'The Community Choice Sale', so here we go.
The Flash Sale: is a series of 4 boxes showing offers with a significantly smaller running times than the main core of deals. This is usually, our top estimators predict, about 8 hours long. This either comes as "the most efficient way Valve could think to give you cheap stuff" if you view them as nice, or "the most efficient way to keep you up and clicking" if you see through the cunning facade.
The Community Choice Sale: on the other hand, is Valve's attempt to veil all this brutal autocracy with the illusion of democracy. There are 3 game choices provided to you every 8 hours, during this time you must vote on which one you want to see up there on sale next, and blindly hope that your fellow Steam serfs will choose likewise. Not that it matters, as Valve has the final say in the end anyway, but isn't the illusion better than nothing at all.
Disclaimer: I love Gabe Newell, he is like the Tyrion Lannister of real life.
So last but not least, we couldn't go through an entire summary of a Steam Summer Sale without talking about the real core foundation they are built on:
Jumping through fucking achievement hoops.
To the untrained eye, these are hoops.
Once again the Steam Summer camp is back and with vengeance, making you do all the stuff you did last Summer, for a vague, unspecified reward, and more! You'll have to do such excitingly diligent activities as, 'Upload a video', 'Buy a game', and 'wire 50 pounds to Gabe!'. The sad thing is, even as I write this, slating the idea, I'm still thinking about ways to get those last two achievements.
So to conclude, what we have all learnt here today, is the Steam Summer Sale is just another way Valve cements control over your life, and boy do they do it in style.