The Steam Autumn Sale is here. The folks over at Valve's all-encompassing PC gaming platform have a massive library of thousands of titles, and small discounts and deals prop up all the time on everything from indie darlings to AAA tentpoles.
The seasonal sales, however, often hold some of the best discounts out there. It's no coincidence that Steam's Autumn Sale coincides with the massive deals avalanche that is Black Friday, and is running until Tuesday 27 November (10:05am BST / 2:05am PST/ 5:55am EST / 9:05pm AEDT). Besides the season sales, there's a continuing selection of weekly sales to pick from too.
In this guide we'll keep you up right to date with the best deals and discounts currently available on the platform, and how to get the best out of the sales.
Steam Autumn Sale 2018: the best PC game deals
Borderlands: The Handsome Collection (94% off RRP)
This Borderlands bundle packs in a huge amount of content for an incredibly low price. Sure, some of that content is filler – costume packs, small add-on quests and the like, alongside larger expansions and the full Borderlands 2 and Pre-Sequel games – but boy do you get your money's worth.
No Man's Sky (50% off RRP)
Don't be fooled by the 'mixed' user rating: it's a testament to Hello Games' steady updates that this space exploration sim has crawled back from the harsh reviews of its much maligned launch. The Next expansion finally brought in online multiplayer, along a host of other improvements, with other updates incoming. At half-price, now may be the time to get the game that was promised in the first place.
Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy (35% off RRP)
The remastered trilogy of Crash Bandicoot shows just how strong the central platforming in these hectic, globetrotting, box-smashing, spin-jumping, even time-travelling games was – and it holds up just as well today. You can get it on near any platform now – not to mention Sony's PlayStation – but this 35% saving makes a case for getting it on PC.
Far Cry Franchise (up to 75% off)
The Far Cry games have been a benchmark for both large, exotic sandbox environments and gripping player-led action. The latest, Far Cry 5 (50% off), was a stunning (if politically hedged) take on America's Deep South, but the likes of neanderthal-era Far Cry Primal and Himalayan-set Far Cry 4 (both 75% off) remain series bests. The original Far Cary and Far Cry 2 are both 60% off too.
Sonic Mania (67% off RRP)
One of the the most acclaimed Sonic games of recent years – which hasn't been hard, to be honest. A return to form that feels like classic Sonic platforming while offering new twists on gameplay. For game's further back than 2017, there's a whole sale of old Sonic games with even bigger 75% discounts.
Fallout 4: Game of the Year Edition (60% off)
The 2015 follow-up to Fallout 3 brought in a bigger, denser, more fully realized wasteland in the bestselling post-apocalyptic series. There's more of a focus on combat – you'll slow down, rather than freeze the action when shooting now – but this is still the Fallout RPG experience we wanted. For those of you not getting a kick out of the online multiplayer Fallout 76 game, it might be worth looking at what the series does best. The GOTY Edition packs in all the game's additional DLC, too.
Black Mesa (67% off RRP)
A fan-made recreation of the original 1998 Half-Life game. Explore the Black Mesa facility, fight off head crabs with your trusty crowbar, and see where the bestselling sci-fi adventure franchise all began.
Steam Winter Sale 2018
The Steam Winter Sale will go live on December 20 at 9:55am BST / 1:55am PST / 4:55 EST / 8:55pm AEDT and will run until January 3 at 10:05am BST / 2:05am PST/ 5:55am EST / 9:05pm AEDT.
How to get the best deals in the Steam Sales
Whichever way you approach a particular Steam Sale, you're guaranteed to have the chance to pick up some top gaming titles at great prices.
Finding bargains isn't too difficult, but there are a few techniques and tricks that are worth using if you want to get the most out of the sales.
- Use your Steam Wishlist: Fill it up with all the games you're interested in picking up, and you'll be alerted 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 us 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 certainly 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. This gives you a historical look at the price of all Steam games, letting you see just how many pennies have been saved.
The best Steam Sale deals of days gone by
Gone but not forgotten, here's our collection of all the best deals we've seen in days gone by. Use them as a point of reference for what you should be expecting – or, you know, lament the ones that got away.
Tomb Raider franchise: The iconic explorer has seen a huge transformation since her debut outing in '96, moving from polygonal poster-girl to complex, conflicted heroine. And with 70-90% discounts across the entire platforming series, this was the perfect time to join her on that journey…
Left 4 Dead 2: Valve's cooperative zombie shooter Left 4 Dead 2 pits four survivors against the undead horde, and has an absolute blast doing it. With procedurally-altered campaigns, too, the game is smart enough to vary the challenge depending on how (and how well) you play. And at 90% off RRP, it was basically free…
Shadow of Mordor bundle: Perhaps the definitive Lord of the Rings video game, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor was lauded on release for its stellar combat, open-world action, and an intelligent Nemesis system that. If 50 Game of the Year awards weren't enough to convince you, a hefty 70% discount on the Shadow of Mordor/Shadow of War bundle certainly should have been.
The Witcher 3: Inarguably the game of 2015, The Witcher 3 is also now widely considered the best RPG of all time. A sprawling dark fantasy epic, it's a beautiful game, and one that's a great showpiece for your souped-up gaming PC too.
And, with the Game of the Year Edition being heavily discounted in the Steam Summer Sale, it was a fantastic way to jump into this monumental game, and get all of its DLC at a discount too.
What games are going to be in the Steam Sales?
First off, you shouldn't expect brand-new games to get the really steep 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, with a select few seeing a massive 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, there are other gaming stores out there, 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.