On December 20th 2011, 2AM local time, Steam launched their annual Winter Holiday Sale. As with past sales, the event has a contest with epic prizes to be won by any eager participant. Without a doubt, this is easily one of the most highly-anticipated year-end events for PC gamers, alongside other holiday promotions on other digital distribution sites and retail stores.
For this particular Giveaway, entrants are required to earn daily in-game achievements to receive a gift. They start you off simply: all Steam accounts receive a gift, and simply visiting the Giveaway page unlocks one of the six daily achievements, hence getting another gift. Just like that, you already have two gifts, enough to light up that holiday/contest spark in you.
The gifts get you either a full game, a game discount coupon or a piece of coal. Collecting seven pieces of coal allows you to craft them into a gift. Fairly simple and an easy implementation of the crafting mechanic behind Team Fortress 2.
Now I’m not here to discuss the value of the gifts. Personally I think the coupons are alright, if not downright useless, and requiring seven pieces of coal to craft is too steep a number for casual participants, of which I am one. Seriously.
Since everything is free (unless you happen to buy the games that are part of the daily achievements), really there should be no grounds to complain. Thousands of others happen to disagree and think they deserve more. I’m fine with that. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
What I am NOT fine with, however, is the fact that people are trying to cheat their way through. There will always be people out to exploit the system and loopholes, its a fact of life, but really, how low are people going to go?
The Humble Indie Bundle is one such avenue of exploit. People are paying just a few dollars to get the titles with which to authenticate their Steam accounts with. To earn more free gifts. To hoard coal.
Because, you see, coal is the qualifying item you need for the grand draw. The more coal you have, if you’ve decided to not craft them into gifts, the higher your chances of winning.
Hell I should just link this page, it’ll probably explain the whole system better: http://store.steampowered.com/holidaysale/details
So there are people out there, creating multiple new Steam accounts, filling them with titles by abusing Humble Bundle and then hoarding all the coal they can possibly get.
The process should be extremely time-consuming. For this to work, they’d also be doing this a lot.
I wouldn’t care so much if multiple Steam accounts and coal hoarding was just the problem. I take issue with them using Humble Bundle to satisfy their greedy motivations. Its revolting.
To understand why, you’ll need to know how it works. http://www.humblebundle.com/
You pay what you want for a bunch of indie games. The proceeds are split between the developers, charity and a very small portion going to the website itself. Its a great platform for showcasing great indie titles and also as a way to raise donations.
I’ve been following them since Bundle #2 a few months back and so far have bought three bundles, two of which I’ve given away to friends (before Steam keys got implemented) and one copy, bundle #4, that I’ve yet to decide what to do with. I admit that I’m not paying a lot for them, just a measly USD$10 each.
Are the games worth that much? That’s entirely subjective. I haven’t played them aside from a demo or two and the indie games that I’ve truly enjoyed have been fully paid for. (Limbo, The Binding of Isaac and the spectacular masterpiece that is Bastion, for those of you curious.)
To not give any money to the developers at all just to fuel your personal, cheating agenda is just… the lot of you ought to be crucified, tortured and flayed. I wouldn’t wish something like a complee Steam ban, however. I’m not EA with their warped ideas. I don’t even intend to support them or Origin by purchasing Battlefield 3 or upcoming Mass Effect 3. My loss but I’m willing to “sacrifice” things for what I believe in. But that’s not the point here.
I honestly hope Steam has a way of monitoring this. Make it subtle. Give them nothing but 10% off Valve-title coupons. Give them nothing but coal so they amass a lot but win absolutely nothing in the end. When it all ends make an official statement saying you did just that to shut them up from whining. Some things cannot be tolerated.
P.S. – Valve, as much as I love Steam (and your games before that even started), please do take into consideration some of the more popular feedback users are vying for. For instance, the cart.
I believe this is how the cart should operate. Give users the ability to select the quantity of the games they wish to purchase. Your push for improving the gifting and trading service is great but not when I have to go back and buy the same title five times in a row. I don’t enjoy receiving that many email receipts and making a mess out of my bank statements.
On top of that, allow users to select what games are for themselves, what should be gifted and what games should be sent to the inventory.
The inventory is a god-send but not the most time-efficient method. Right now I just add everything in my cart to inventory, redeem the games that I want for myself and do what I planned for the rest. This is not fun when the servers are being overloaded during the sale period. While we’re on the topic of server overloading, is anything being done at all about it? At least release a statement or two. Everybody knows that this is not new.
Last issue I want to raise is the inability of gamers buying bundles or four-packs because they already own the title. What happened to the whole gifting idea? I want to gift the games from the four-pack. I want to gift individual titles from that bundle. We’re running into huge roadblocks here.
There are other points like the allowing of the user to have more control over the game updates. Security updates? Fine, make it mandatory. Content updates? Depends. A gamer doesn’t play every game in his or her installed library all the time, and not all updates are a good thing! Believe it or not, we actually read the change-log. We can decide for ourselves. This is not so bad for me but imagine the people who live in countries with ISPs that have a bandwidth quota. The last thing they want to see is a huge patch having been downloaded for a game they rarely play!
So yes there you have it. I’m just going to do a cursory proof-read and post it up, have no time to do any editing now.