Is The 2014 Steam Summer Sale Rigged?


Is the 2014 Steam Summer Sale rigged? It’s been 5 days since the sale started, and in each of those 5 days, one of the 5 teams has won by a landslide. On the surface, it looks an awful lot like Valve found a “fair” way of making a game in which everyone wins at least once while raking in lots of cash from gullible people. Heck, on the surface it looks almost blatant that the game is rigged to allow 1

Sure, in some ways, Valve could definitely benefit from rigging the game. By encouraging people to try and spend money to buy trading cards to craft badges, Valve could actually earn a lot of money (about 5% of each sale). Then again… if you look at the sales numbers, that doesn’t seem likely. If you look at the sales data for the past 24 hours for say… one card and extrapolate from that, you would find that Valve could earn a few thousand dollars (let’s say $.05/trade, and 100,000 sales per day, that’s an even $5,000 per card per day). Considering how much money is moving around Valve right now, though, $50,000 doesn’t seem like this sort of blatant, obvious conspiracy would be worth it. Is there something else? Something deeper?

riggedIt turns out the game was rigged, but it wasn’t by Valve. Reddit seems responsible, and just a quick browse through the various subreddits devoted to the meta of the Steam Sale race will show how well coordinated the rigging of this match goes. They have a very organized schedule of who is due to win on what day, and each subreddit is carefully trying to wrangle in their team to make sure they are only accumulating points actively on specific days. Indeed, the schedule in the previous link is being followed perfectly with Purple once again in a decently commanding lead. The plan is initialized EWT for Everybody Wins Twice.

Valve tried to find a way around this and instill just a little anarchy into the system by changing the rules around. Instead of a first or nothing deal, the second place steam will have 20 members receive 2 games on their wishlists, and the third place team will have 10 members win 1 game. This initially seemed to have the desired effect. The leaderboard was thrown into disarray for most of the day with Red winning for a little while. Just a little added possibility for selfishness seemed to make all the difference, but it wasn’t enough.

In fact, if you look at the daily scoreboard (at least as of the time of writing), the point totals match exactly what they should be for each team’s day anyway. Assuming purple wins today, red wins tomorrow, and green the day after that, those should be the fair placements of the teams. Despite Valve’s best efforts to try and turn the teams against each other, they have once more seemingly brokered a truce to rig the game in favor of everyone.

Perhaps next year Valve will have to come up with a much deeper meta-game.


About Stephen Crane

Stephen was hooked by the NES at a very young age and never looked back. He games on a daily basis and is currently trying to climb his way up the ranked ladder on League of Legends! Outside of the video game world he actually likes running and owns a rapidly growing collection of toed shoes. Stephen Crane is the owner of Armed Gamer.

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