I love the Steam Summer Sale, but end up with the same problem every single year

A banner promoting the Steam Summer Sale with the sea and beach behind it
(Image credit: Valve)

Not to roll out the red carpet for our corporate overlords, but there's something strangely comforting about the Steam Summer Sale. Each year, the storefront's familiar, dull gray aesthetic is washed away by warm, seasonally-appropriate artwork – right now, it's a seaside shack and gently-lapping ocean, so idyllic that looking at it for too long will make your heart ache with longing to be there. Below, a wealth of deals. Deals – so many deals! Hundreds of titles are plastered with garish discounts, with the implied promise that your next favorite game waits somewhere within this sprawl. 

But unlike the tranquil waves above them, this sea of sales is a bit much – and for me, it's been that way for some time.

Window shopping


(Image credit: Valve)
Treasure chest ahead

Persona 3 Reload

(Image credit: Atlus)

Some massive RPGs have been deeply discounted during the Summer Sale

The Steam Summer Sale has been running for nine days. I've scrolled through its offerings for every single one of those days, but haven't actually bought anything. It's nothing new – for the last few years, looking at the Summer Sale has become more of a habit than actually making use of its discounts. There's plenty to buy – I'm itching to finally try settlement sims Rimworld and Manor Lords, for example, and Titanfall 2's $6.99 price tag looks especially tempting – but nothing ever ends up in the cart.

Until now, I've never stopped to wonder why that is. You would think that if I'm not buying anything, the urge to endlessly scroll would fade, right? But here I am, trapped in a summery purgatory where I'm forever weighing up Cult Of The Lamb or American Truck Simulator.

While I can't quite put my finger on what's going on, I have a few theories. According to SteamDB, 1,715 games were released on Steam in 2014. This year, there have already been 8,952 releases – and given we're barely halfway through 2024, it looks likely that it will eclipse 2023's staggering 14,511 launches. Even the cream of the crop is stacked, as some of the best PC games ever made have been released in the last few years, and there are tons of acclaimed titles you probably didn't get around to playing at launch. Choice paralysis doesn't even begin to cut it – there are an outrageous number of fantastic games out there, and the list only ever grows.

This alone is worth celebrating, and PC gaming feels healthier than it's ever been. But within this golden age, it's become increasingly difficult to narrow down what to buy. I'd love to see Steam tinker with its curation system in ways that let you dive into the genres you love, rather than its current eclectic mix of front-page bargains. Likewise, the Steam Curator program is frequently gamed by bad actors and in dire need of an overhaul to make it feel more relevant. But what if choice paralysis isn't the problem? 

It's not you, it's me


(Image credit: Chucklefish)

On a deeper level, I have to wonder if this is an issue on my end. At the very least, there's definitely some form of subconscious guilt in play. Like most people, my Steam backlog is a shameful beast – but in recent years, I've felt it peering over my shoulder a little more intensely. With the ongoing global cost of living crisis, I've found it harder to justify spending money on games – however cheap they are – because little things like, er, food and electricity, have become vastly more expensive. The bar for "is this worth buying?" has moved up, and while that's an incredibly minor consequence in the bigger picture, it's still made purchasing games harder than it once was. 

The silver lining here is that I'm making a dent in that backlog (Resident Evil 2 is pretty good, believe it or not), and there's no shortage of games waiting for their turn to be installed. I probably don't need to stay permanently vigilant for new things to buy, which is a trait I find many long-time PC gaming friends have internalized due to these annual sales. Without "needing" to take advantage of discounts, the pressure dissipates, and – somewhat counterintuitively – the prospect of buying again becomes a little more appealing. 

Whether or not I get much use out of the Steam Summer Sale this year, I'm still in love with the idea of it. It's still a wildly popular, mid-year Christmas for the entire PC gaming community, and it's always a joy to hear people experiencing a fantastic game for the first time because of its slashed price. The excitement around it has come to symbolize a broader celebration of gaming, and the titles that have stolen our hearts in summers past – whether that's 2013's DayZ phenomenon, those warm weeks in 2016 when it felt like the entire world was playing Stardew Valley, or our collective obsession with Baldur's Gate 3 last August. 

Later today, I might break the cycle and finally buy a few games that have looked especially-tempting this month. I might also buy nothing, and go back to watching waves lap on golden sands above the sales. Right now, either sounds wonderful. 

Here are 25 of the best Steam games you might want to pick up during the sale

Features Editor

Andy Brown is the Features Editor of Gamesradar+, and joined the site in June 2024. Before arriving here, Andy earned a degree in Journalism and wrote about games and music at NME, all while trying (and failing) to hide a crippling obsession with strategy games. When he’s not bossing soldiers around in Total War, Andy can usually be found cleaning up after his chaotic husky Teemo, lost in a massive RPG, or diving into the latest soulslike – and writing about it for your amusement.