Is Microsoft Taking Pages From The Book of Steam?

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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Is Microsoft Taking Pages From The Book of Steam?

Those paying close attention to Xbox Live sales, whether for Gold members or otherwise, may have noticed that Microsoft started something up a couple days ago, a big “countdown to 2014” sale featuring a slew of good deals, including a new deal every day until New Year's Day, along with some deals that will show up on a weekly basis. Almost as though it were planned this way—I say almost, of course—the Steam Sale emerged just today, and it got me to wondering, is Microsoft taking a page or two out of Steam's book?

The sales had me quite enthusiastic. Not only were there some very impressive deals like a 75 percent off sale on “Borderlands 2”, as well as a 67 percent discount on “Terraria”--I personally landed a nice deal on “Bioshock: Infinite” at 65 percent off—but there would be fresh deals arriving on a regular basis throughout the season, and that was happy news to say the least.

Then, just a couple days after all that started, I saw the word on the Steam Sale, and that flipped a switch of sorts in my head and I looked at the situation and said, hey, whoa...is there a connection here? On the surface, it certainly made sense. Steam Sales have been a big deal for most anyone involved in PC gaming pretty much since the inception of the Steam Sale. Indeed, there have already been some comparisons between the Xbox Live Marketplace sales and the Steam Sale; there seems to be at least a grudging respect for Microsoft's efforts, though most agree that the Steam Sales seem to be a bit stronger and more potent overall with some huge doorbusters going on on the Steam Sales, as well as much more frequent updates.

Indeed, looking at the two side by side shows some rather sadly negative correlation. Indeed, my terrific deal on “Bioshock: Infinite” actually would have been even better on Steam. But by like token, it's still good to see Microsoft taking a run at the idea of deep discounts alongside the freebies for those who keep an Xbox Live Gold account up and running. A value proposition is a tough thing to manage, and offering free games as well as deep discounts on other games is a great way to keep people interested in a subscription service that they may be questioning the value of. Sure, it's not exactly as great a deal as the one Steam is offering, but it doesn't really have to be in order to be valuable to the user base. It's still a good thing--good games for cheap seldom isn't a good thing--but Microsoft has quite a ways to go before it's playing the game at Steam's level, if that's what it's doing.

If that is what Microsoft's doing, though, it's certainly off to a good start. Hopefully Microsoft can step up its game with the Xbox One and make some great games available for super cheap, though admittedly, first that would require having more games to offer in the first place, a development that will take a little while to accomplish.
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