Update December 23, 2016: We're a day into the Steam winter sale and Steam is dead. Completely dead.
It's not abnormal for Steam to strain under the weight of sales traffic, but this time it's been down for a while. It's around 30 minutes now and it's not even intermittent - it's completely inaccessible. Perhaps it's been hacked. Perhaps it's just traffic. Nobody knows, as Valve haven't made an official statement yet.
Get some of the best PC games of the year, won’t you?
It's not like Valve to leave Steam to be down this long, especially in the middle of a sale and a time-limited awards voting period, so we've reached out and asked what the deal is. We will let you know if we hear back.
Update December 22, 2016: Prepare your wallet, because the Steam winter sale is now here.
There are a bunch of great games on sale, including Darkest Dungeon and Invisible Inc, both are which are well worth picking up if you fancy something special for not very much cash at all. If you're looking for something a little more explosive, the entire Just Cause series is heavily discounted. Since Just Cause 3's multiplayer mod is now in beta, it might be worth grabbing.
Outside of the sales, the Steam Awards voting is kicking off. The first category is "Villain in Most Need of a Hug", with the following nominees: Portal 2, Borderlands 2, Far Cry 3, Far Cry 4 and Dead By Daylight. You have to vote today, but the site is playing up because of massive traffic at the moment, so maybe wait a bit.
More categories will follow throughout the winter sale.
Update December 22, 2016: The Steam winter sale is due to start later today.
Three days ago, PayPal confirmed a NeoGAF leak that the Steam winter sale was due to start in three days' time. Those three days have now passed, which brings us to today, which is three days later.
If our calculations are correct, this means the Steam winter sale is due to start today. That same leak said the winter sale will start at 0950 Pacific time, which is 1750 GMT here in the UK. It will run until 1010 Pacific (1810 GMT) on January 2.
So, prepare your wallets. If the leak is correct to the hour rather than just the day, hundreds of games are going to get a whole lot cheaper in about six hours. What's on your wishlist? Personally, I'm hoping to see good deals on Tyranny and Planet Coaster.
Update December 19, 2016: PayPal confirm a NeoGAF leak from earlier this month that the Steam winter sale will start in three days' time.
In a slightly bizarre phantom Tweet that doesn't appear on their feed, but which you can see if you have the link, PayPal have confirmed that the Steam winter sale will take place on December 22.
Here's the Tweet:
Viewed in Twitter, it contains a button which, when clicked, will send out a pre-scripted Tweet containing the hashtag #WinterSale, and will then reveal the date. Bizarrely, the Tweet from PayPal doesn't appear in their feed (at time of writing, that is), which is either an odd choice or bizarre mistake for an apparent attempt at viral promotion.
Anyway, December 22 confirmed. What's on your wish list?
Original story December 1, 2016: Anything you didn’t pick up in the Thanksgiving sales as far as cheap games go? More excited about cute wintery themes? All that and more will be on Steam come December 22 as the Christmas / Winter / Cold Time / Australian Hot Time sale begins once again.
The news comes via a leak on NeoGAF, later confirmed by Eurogamer. If you’re unfamiliar, the picture shown on Gaf is consistent with images leaked before of behind-the-scenes developer communications from Valve.
It’s not exactly a massive gap between the Black Friday sale and Christmas, but the month wait usually means a couple of more recent titles go on sale the second time that weren’t the first. Alternatively, there’s an extra 10% knocked off goodies from the start of the year. Flash deals and all that stuff is done with these days of course, so if it's cheap on December 22, that's probably as low as it's going to go across the two week break to January 2, when it's scheduled to end.
Winter also usually gets a mini-game, ARG or other larger-scale element for us all to enjoy. Last year was an ultimately disappointing noir comic about a gingerbread man. Hopefully this one is a little less teasy.
End of the day, an excuse to watch this video again:
That’s the stuff.