Honk, hurk, buzz, crash, boom, bang! continue with the exclamatory and other forms of onomatopoeia to signify urgency!

Batten down the hatches, it’s time for an emergency Top 6! That’s right, no waiting until Saturday night for this topical piece of listed feature as Steam sales are upon us! So why should we be excited for more than the obvious deals for the rationed gamers and the OCD-like hoarders alike? Why does Valve remain a paragon of gaming delight for what reasons?

Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Ask someone why they love Steam, consequently PC gaming too, and you’ll get the token answer of “Awesome Game Deals.” Yet, the stated weighs light in the grand scheme of things. Consoles and other PC vendors sell at insane levels of cut prices too. Places like gog (Good Old Games), Green Man Gaming, and even Amazon offer monolithic, dirt-cheap deals rivaling Steam. Although, Gabe Newell’s independent company has a few tricks up their sleeves not taken advantage of by others. Sure, the huge publisher discounts, big picture mode, trading cards, and boy, Valve delivers a service deserving of worship.

#6 Gifting

Top 6 2Believe it or not, we’re a community of people teeming with hive-minded mentalities. We may call your mother nasty things pertaining to her late night activities, but we mean well enough to scream at everyone who touched a controller to play the latest niche title we recently picked up. Doing so evokes a compassioned effort to spread the gospel of good word of mouth around and no other way could be simulated in the way gifting can do. A wishlist affixes to every Steam profile and allows the owner to click on a game they would like to purchase a later day in an ordered manner. Hell, Steam even sends emails notifying its on sale.

However, the genius strikes when users obtain the ability to buy a virtual copy for said friend, hoping to finally play Ride to Hell Retribution and understand where the overbearing affection comes from. Unlike the budget-centric citizens we hear all about “saving money” and “safety nets,” wishlists help form a goal in mind. Meaningless to attach such concept to a mere consumer purchase, of course, like long-term goals made for yourself, sometimes you need a helping hand. Ultimately, you know the boogie-woogie encountered with gifting, no one wants to be the person accepting the gifts without the sending one of their own in the future.

#5 Openness of the Modding Community

Top 6 80One thing vividly clear, taken for granted even, is the shear acceptance Valve and others collaborated with them for the community to screw their work. The modding community flourishes on Steam with a multitude of things keeping these content creators making games like Left 4 Dead 2 a persistent presence. New environments, character model skins, audio adjustments, and a wealth of combinations of those three can create unique experiences removing the relation of standard Left 4 Dead play. On the other hand, a silly mod swaps the pounding theme of the tank with Benny Hill. Steam Workshop allows simplistic and easy ways to find the best mods for supported software. Streamlined and direct, the workshop

Onto Steam Filmmaker, a program meant to spur moviemakers of the likes of Machinima whose primary function films entertainment using videogames. Now plains folk can have the volition to recapture the hilarity of the bed scene from Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. And lastly, if item reskinning isn’t ambitious enough, try your hand at developing one of the greatest games for our modern, HD taste. Look at Black Mesa, the Half-Life recreation, don’t call it a remake, made by fans. Valve shrugged and offered to promote the remake, which ran through a democratic process of Valve’s…

#4 Steam Greenlight

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Designed to lend a hand to indie devs by giving the power to the people, Steam Greenlight innovates in a way only popularity could solve. Rudimentarily, it’s Kickstarter with none of the negative repercussions. Instead of forking over $20 for an “investment” or an “I hope they won’t pocket the money and run/make ill of it,” all a thumbs up grants is an agreement you would want to play the game. Emphasis on the “play,” not pay, Greenlight functions as an indicator for Valve to fast track a game to the store, since the original design designated to sift thru the meh and bleh.

No, they won’t relegate through mountains of channels like Nintendo’s eShop, or worse like Xbox Live indie games, reminded of its existence rather vaulted to the ceiling like brides and grooms at a Jewish Wedding. Green-lit games share (almost) the same space as publisher-driven AAA titles on the home page of Steam, right below the new releases client to see the hottest things made from basements. Relatively new and a work in progress, kinks and borderline broken promises sadly are in order. Though, consider other indie promotion programs propose users with a straightforward interface and how minuscule threat of voting yes. Steam Greenlight is almost as if liking a photo on Facebook possesses some worth, besides revealing how empathic and kindhearted you are to a photo.

#3 Cross-Game Items

Top 6 1Pre-order bonuses are an ever-growing disposition for the players. Rare are they ever something else besides an in-game gun, character skin, or early beta/demo access. Usually, these pre-purchased trinkets neuter for the sake of not breaking the game or a miniscule enough addition to have an ill effect on the overall experience. Something like Transformers War for Cybertron’s retailer-specific characters notably reveals how meaningless they are. People went to the trouble of buying multiple copies only for the DLC pack to ruin their day/week/year on the misguided attempt to collect all the autobots and decepticons. Pre-orders and retailers vying for your early cash won’t matter, an eventual DLC pack, trivial minutia, or a later release for general masses, save the money.

Then comes Team Fortress 2, Valve’s free-to-play whore, sells itself out for cross-game items. There, Valve taps a different market, striking gold where no one mined before. A flagship multiplayer series, ongoing with a consistent community, tossed in a few vanity and usable devices. Buying Deus Ex: Human Revolution three years ago yielded eight Team Fortress 2 items on Steam. Wearable eye-supported shades of Adam Jensen, reload-less shotgun, Purity Fist for the heavy, and more. Best of all, the visual look of them all evokes the same metallic, futuristic design of the promoted game. There’s something you didn’t ask for!

#2 Mobile App

Top 6 7Of all the vendors hawking the next best thing to come for the “next generation,” only Steam and Microsoft managed to spit out an app. Microsoft’s “Smart Glass” app is a nice solution to messaging friends without asinine analog sticks clonking along, freely dressing your unsettling Mariette of an avatar, and interacting with games you already own. Funny thing is, of all the bells and drool-inducing uses of Smart Glass, the one thing Microsoft wants you to do is slap down the cheddar for new stuff and Smart Glass won’t let you enter the marketplace to buy things. And that’s where Steam stands in triumph once again.

Think of winter holidays, most people were away from their bulky consoles and around people of blood relation. Enkindling a gaming drought, only cheapened titles of the past year could solve. Microsoft sought after that opportunity with daily Xbox Live game deals to quell the hunger, but it’s only through the confusing site and the console interface. Where was the love for those with family get-togethers with no Xbox and no internet access? Lost, that’s where it went. “Hold up, I need to set up the Xbox to do something.” It’s almost as unprogressive as forced to watch scheduled programming when the flexibility of the internet calmly waves a hand.

#1 Sale Event Meta Games

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The crowning achievement of the platform, Steam sales take over the gaming populous. Not the zeitgeist following the event, already hammered home that point, the lottery-like incentives driving to more games bought. In years past, the most income-reducing Steam sale was the Great Gift Pile of the winter of 2011. Every day unveiled a new set of challenges coinciding with the games on sale collecting coal with obtainable achievements. Coal became currency to turn in for a random free game or saved for the final day for a chance to win the grand prizes (1,000 receive the Valve collection, 100 nab their top 5 on wishlist, 50 fulfills their top 10 on wishlist, and one seizes the entire library of Steam).

And every holiday event had some form of achievement involved to squeeze the cash from you. Badges to your profile ranging from participant to “That was my entire week” or bits of cosmetic trinkets or DLC to suffice. Last year (2012), saw comparably diminished rewards and task, yet effective to breed enough fervor and communal effort. Buy a slashed-price game for yourself or someone else, the rest were adding to your wishlist or voting on what game will discount next. It’s not the sales we’re attached too, the level of agency within the sales exceeds any sort of half-hearted reductions in price elsewhere. Which, to the testament of Valve, proves their worth and dominance in the PC and entire gaming market.

Top 6 Saturday is a weekly feature here at Front Towards Gamer. Named for our founder, Stephen “ShanghaiSix” Machuga, the Top 6 Saturday is our countdown of the top six things that are relevant that week. It’s like a Top 10, but not quite as robust!