The Black Friday sales have officially started, and while you're probably going to spend most of your time trying to figure out if you really want to buy a year's supply of dog biscuits or that disco ball-themed waffle iron, over on Steam there will be some discounts that you'll genuinely want to get your hands on.
While not quite as big as the Steam Winter or Summer Sale, the Steam Black Friday sale should still provide you with the opportunity to pick up some great games for less.
The Steam Black Friday sale (like all the other Black Friday sales we're seeing this year) refuses to be constrained by a single Friday, and to make matters even more confusing, neither starts nor ends on Black Friday.
Instead, it's a week-long extravaganza that starts on November 22 and runs through until November 28. We know about the dates thanks to a Reddit leak earlier in the year that gave away the dates of the Halloween Sale, Black Friday Sale and Winter Sale.
Thankfully, Valve made a decision a few Black Fridays ago to remove its version of lightning deals, so any deals that you see will be live for the entire duration of the Black Friday Sale, meaning you don't have to make a buying decision in the face of a countdown timer, which is a relief.
As with any Steam Sale, there will undoubtedly be some deals that are better than others, and we don't want you spending your hard earned cash on games that you shouldn't. In order to shine a light on the best deals on games you know, and maybe introduce you to some games you've not heard of, we're going to be listing our recommendations below.
We'll also provide you with our tips and tricks for how to navigate Steam Sales, and show you some of our favorite deals from sales of yesteryear, so you know what sort of discounts you should be expecting.
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When does the next Steam Sale start?
Thanks to a Reddit leak, we have the dates for the next two Steam sales, so you know exactly how long you've got to save up your earnings.
We know that these dates are accurate, not only because they were verified by Eurogamer, but also because the Halloween Sale dates were spot on.
So your next Steam sales are:
- Steam Black Friday Sale dates: November 22 - November 28
- Steam Winter Sale dates: December 21 - January 4
Steam deal of the moment
Right now, you can get your hands on the brilliant survival game This War of Mine at a whopping 80% off its standard RRP.
It's a few years old now, having first been released in 2014, but we think it's still definitely worth giving it a play if you haven't.
Coming at the idea of a war game from a pretty unusual angle, you play as the civilians rather than the soldiers caught up in a war. Struggling with a lack of food, medicine, and under constant threat from flying bullets, it's a beautifully gloomy indie title that immerses you in the world of war.
How to get the best deals in the Steam Sales
Whichever way you approach the Steam Black Friday Sale (or the Winter holiday sale, or any other Steam deal-a-thon for that matter), you're guaranteed to pick up something great at a good price.
But, there are a few techniques and tricks worth using to get the most out of the sale.
- Use your Steam Wishlist: Fill it up with all the games you're interested in picking up, and it will alert you the moment they go on sale, and by how much.
- Bundles are great: Publishers often pull their titles together in sale mega-packs, ramping up the savings to even greater heights. If there's a suite of titles from a publisher like Square Enix or Activision that you've never played before, this is the best – and cheapest – way to bag them all at once. As you'd imagine, the value diminishes if you've already got a few bundled titles in your library.
- Highlighted deals are where the real savings are: The majority of the Steam store back catalogue will get some sort of price cut, but it's the 'Highlighted' deals (the ones promoted on the Steam front splash page) that tend to be more heavily discounted. These are the ones where you may fall into impulse-buy territory. Which leads on to our next tip...
- Only buy what you'll actually play right away: Once those 75% off signs start floating around, you're going to want to break open the piggy-bank. But the Steam sales of yesteryear have proved that our desire for overflowing game libraries leaves us with more titles than we could ever humanly play. Save some cash, and only grab the ones you're really going to play – keep in mind that if you wait a while, the games will almost inevitably get cheaper as they get older.
- Use this browser extension: Want to make sure you're getting a good deal? Use the Enhanced Steam browser extension. It gives you a historical look at the price of all Steam games, letting you see just how many pennies have been saved.
Now, we’re imagining that over the Black Friday weekend you’re going to be spending your hard earned cash elsewhere, so possibly the Steam Winter Sale, when you’ve got your Christmas (or Hanukkah, or whatever your personal festivity is) cash will be your next game-buying extravaganza.
The best Steam Sale deals of the year so far
Gone but not forgotten, here is our collection of all the best deals that we have seen up until this point. Use them as a point of reference for what you should be expecting. Or you know, lament the ones that got away.
Skyrim: With over 200 Game of the Year Awards to its name, Skyrim is undoubtedly one of the greatest games of recent years. With its seemingly endless open world gameplay, this is truly a game that has something for everyone.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition, is complete with remastered art and effects, plus all the mods, meaning in it's own words: "there are no limits to what you can experience". The entire Elder Scrolls bundle was 50% off.
The Witcher 3: Inarguably the game of 2015, The Witcher 3 is also now often considered the best RPG of all time. A sprawling dark fantasy epic, it's a beautiful game and one that's a great show piece for your souped-up gaming PC too.
And, with the Game of the Year Edition being heavily discounted in the Steam Summer Sale 2017, it was a fantastic way to jump into this monumental game, and get all of its DLC at a discount too.
Tomb Raider franchise: Few franchises are as iconic as this, and if you've missed out on any of Lara exploits so far, this can plug those gaps. Discounts vary between 60% and 80% across the 13 games included in the offer: you can pick up Rise of the Tomb Raider for a 60% discount, for example, and Tomb Raider: Underworld for a whopping 80% off. It's tempting to just spend the whole summer in Lara's company.
The Valve complete pack: If, by some small miracle, you're a PC gamer that was yet to try any of Valve's homegrown titles, this was your chance. The Valve Complete Pack was a staggering 91% off its usual asking price, including all the Half-Life games and episodes, every Portal game, every Left 4 Dead game, a bunch of DLC and much, much more.
HTC Vive: Okay, technically not a game, but nevertheless, Valve is selling its headset with . During the Summer Sale you could get the with just over a 6% discount. It may not sound like much, but with the price of the headset, 6% makes a difference.
What games are going to be in the Steam Sales?
First off, don't expect brand new games to get the deep discounts that have become synonymous with the Steam sales. You may see a 5%, or even 10% discount on games that have been recent big hits, but if they're still new enough to be spinning money without needing a price cut, don't expect that to change now that the sale is here.
But, with the exception of the newer titles, pretty much the entire store receives a 25% discount, if not higher. Some hit the heady heights of 90% off the list price. While the store now highlights what Valve considers the best deals, it's worth noting that flash and community sales are no longer in the mix, so feel free to pick a title on sale when you like – its discounted price will stand for the duration of the sale.
Of course, Other Gaming Stores Do Exist™, and it's worth checking their wares too to see if you can't bag an even bigger bargain elsewhere. GOG.com is a great place to start, and if you're platform agnostic and looking for multi-platform titles, keep an eye on the PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Deals with Gold offers, too. There's a reasonable chance that the odd game may turn up at one spot or the other at a slightly more affordable price and it's always worth looking for a few titles during Black Friday for some pre-Christmas bargains.
- Or...spend no money at all on the best free games to play right now!