All signs point to the Steam Summer Sale beginning at noon central today. I have admit that I'd been a little less engaged than usual by the last couple of sales, mostly because of how many games I'd obtained via prior sales, Humble Bundles, and other means. This time around, though, there are plenty of intriguing new games that I don't yet own. I'm hoping to snag deep discounts on a bunch of 'em.
Steam sales are big, complex events, and you can get the most out of them with a little planning and forethought. One key step is to identify the games you might want to buy ahead of time, so you can prioritize the right purchases within the limits of your budget. Or "budget that will probably get destroyed the first two days," if you're like me.
Once you know the games you want, go ahead and put them onto your Steam wishlist. The wishlist is a nifty Steam feature that lets you tag and rank desirable games. Critically, Steam will notify you via email (and, IIRC, a Steam message, too) when a game on your wishlist goes on sale. That's important because some of the very best deals come in flash sales that only last hours. The rest are usually daily specials. Point is, you'll want to act quickly.
I populated and ranked my wishlist the other night. Might be a helpful reminder of some of the more promising games out there. I'll warn you, though, that I already own a bunch of good stuff you might not have.
We will, of course, be tracking the sale and posting about the best daily deals here at TR, so if you have us as part of your routine, you should get pretty good coverage.
If Valve follows the template it has established in past sales, then there's also a strategic element to getting the best prices. You want to go for flash sales and daily deals, not the smaller discounts offered throughout the sale, in order to ensure the lowest prices. If you miss a deal, don't worry. Valve re-runs the best daily deals on the final day of the sale, so there should be one more chance to get that price. This wisdom has been encapsulated into flow charts like this one across the web, which explain the exact logic to follow in order to squeeze out the best prices.
Keep checking TR for more intelligence and discussion as the Steam Summer Sale unfolds.