It’s that time of the year again, and you know what that means! That’s right; unfavorable weather, repetitive songs on the radio, and a solid financial hit just waiting to happen.
Let me tell you: I am broke. I’m so broke, I could no longer afford to pay for the moth that used to hang out in my wallet and comically float out every time I opened it to show people just how broke I was. Hell, I had to cut my weekly trip to buy groceries so I could pay for Christmas presents. But through it all, being completely broke for the better part of a month is all worth it to me, because I love more than anything to give back to the people who enrich my life and make it worth living.
Perhaps I’m in the minority here, but after I’ve picked up presents for the people closest to me, I like to try and get something for my close friends on Steam. After all, I spend a good chunk of my free time playing games, and I have some of them to thank for so many memories I acquire year-round. With the materialistic centered holidays just around the corner, I thought I’d take the time to provide some recommendations for Steam-centric gifts, if anyone was planning to do the same.
#1: Cheap Steam Games
With how often Steam holds sales, odds are good you’ll be able to find a few titles that have their prices cut down to ridiculously affordable levels. The important thing to remember here is that high prices do not equate to quality, and there’s a plethora of great games that you could potentially get for the price of a sub, given you’re patient enough to wait for a sale. (And whether Valve feels like doing a sale this year.) Search around your friends’ wishlists, and keep an eye out for sales. Alternatively, some games come in packs of two or four, so you could pick up a game to try with a group of friends.
It wouldn’t be a list without a few personal recommendations. If you’re strapped for ideas, keep an eye out for some of the following:
Terraria (up to 80% off): A personal favorite which offers a little bit of something to a multitude of different gaming interests.
Serious Sam 3 BFE (up to 90% off): An excellent salute to a bygone era of shooters. Capable of 16 player co-op. Yes. 16.
Team Fortress Classic (up to 75% off): Didn’t age flawlessly, but still plenty of fun, and still has a dedicated community.
Left 4 Dead 2 (up to 75% off): Four friends versus thousands of zombies. Add voice chat and alcohol and you’ve got yourself a party.
#2: Keys & Hats
Being that this is a blog whose central focus is Team Fortress 2, odds are good that you’re into… well, Team Fortress 2. Simply buying a key could open up a new present opportunity: hats for friends. It’s a simple present, given that it’s pixels in a video game, but I know a few friends who were absolutely astounded when I gave them hats for their respective birthdays. And, I would be lying if I said I hadn’t shared the same enthusiasm when I was given my first hat. Due to the ever-increasing Key-to-Metal conversion rates, a single key is enough to get you a surprising number of cosmetics. You could either buy a cheap one for a handful of friends, dump a bunch of hats on one friend, or even pick up a single, posh hat for a friend who has their eyes set on something out of their price range. It takes a bit more elbow grease than throwing a gift code at them, but they might find it to be a very nice gesture, especially if you don’t think they’ll like or play the game you could’ve gotten them.
This doesn’t come without its share of hassles, mind you. Finding buyers and sellers can be a headache, especially with the notoriety that trading has developed. However, there is one alternative I can recommend, which comes in the form of an automated trading service called TF2 Warehouse. You’ll likely get less for your key(s) banking them there, but because the service is fueled entirely by bots and their inventories, this method is void of the stress that comes with standard trading.
#3: Customized Strange Weapon
Something I, myself, have taken to doing this year. Between a plethora of strange weapons, strange parts, killstreak kits, name and description tags, there are many options at your disposal if you choose to go down this path. Think of it as a holiday card; Depending on how much time and money you choose to sink into it, it can range from being a simple gift to being something very personalized for a close friend. It’s the thought that counts, right?
Now, for some bad news. I had taken to writing this article about a week ago, but procrastinated on providing the finishing touches, and it seems it was a good thing I did; very recently, Valve changed their policies on items acquired from both the Steam Community Market and the Mann Co. Store, placing a week-long trading restriction on any items obtained from either. Considering there’s a major holiday in about a week, I’m actually a bit surprised that they chose now to push this change out the door. Undoubtedly, this has a major impact not only on buying TF2 items as gifts, but also on the all-but-confirmed 2014 Smissmas event.
My concerns for Valve’s recent actions (including a certain Train-themed update) are better left for a different article, however. And with that, you might want to get to work on procuring gifts. I know I should, too. (Talk about emulating the last-minute shoppers’ experience, right?)
Happy Holidays, everyone!