Most financial advice starts with limiting your spending on small items. It doesn't matter how seemingly inconsequential a purchase is--a bunch of little transactions quickly add up. Of course, many people live with the belief that a morning coffee or evening beer doesn't cost that much, at least as long as you never calculate the grand total. When it comes to money, ignorance truly is bliss. And now Valve wants to ruin your day.
You can now visit a web page to see exactly how much money you've spent on Steam. The page appears to be part of Valve's push to make more information available to Steam customers in light of the GDPR rules that went into effect in May. It presents you with three totals: OldSpend covers purchases made before 2015, PWSpend refers to money spent on Perfect World Entertainment's games, and TotalSpend includes everything else.
It's even harder to keep track of how much you spend on Steam than it is to think about the financial impact of a cup of coffee. PC games regularly go on sale, and if you're anything like us, chances are good that you find something to buy every time a half-decent promotion is running. Games that cost $60 at launch quickly fall to $40 and then shift price based on how well they're selling or what deals Steam and its publishers want to run.
We'll use ourselves as an example. The new External Funds Used page says we spent $8.99 sometime before 2015 and an additional $275 after. (Can you guess which spending category is devoted to a time after we built our gaming PC?) Does that mean we've bought four games plus some DLC? Nope. We've purchased somewhere around 81 games. (It's hard to tell because other sellers, like the Humble Store, use Steam keys.)
Here's the rub: most of those games have never been played. We have 39 installed, and we've completed a few games, but for the most part we've built our Steam library with the belief that we'd eventually get to everything we'd purchased. Based on the Reddit comments we see when Steam runs another sale, we aren't alone in this. Steam is less a game store and more a way to convert money into the false hope of infinite free time.
Speaking of sales...the annual Steam Summer Sale is expected to kick off today. You can expect the usual discounts on dozens of titles, with deals ranging from "why did you notify me about a 10% discount" to "holy crap, I can't believe this game's already on sale for less than $10" and everything in between. Maybe wait to visit the External Funds Page until after the sale is over. There's nothing wrong with a little denial, right?
Oh, and once you're done weeping over the money you've spent on games you've never even thought about playing, check out Business Insider's guide to seeing how much money you've spent on Amazon. Then just console yourself in the knowledge that nobody puts "stop buying games during Steam sales or using Amazon" on their list of the best ways to save money. At least you aren't buying avocado toast, right?