False Scarcity

Steam sales are brilliant experiments in applied economics.

During these holiday sales, Steam runs sales of several durations at once. There are daily sales, flash sales, and community-selected discounts. If you watch, these are all the same games. There may be a bit of plus or minus to it, but the same game will appear in all three spots. Voting for a game in the sidebar just gives you another few hours in which the sale is available (and makes you feel more invested, a more likely buyer). Time is (always) running out, this is (always) your last chance, buy now!

Steam seems to have stumbled on the model used by that one store down the street that seems to be having a clearance or holiday sale 48+ weeks of the year. They also seem to be experimenting less and settling on that model of having continuous sales that are always just about to end.

My favorite ad is still “last chance to pre-order!” That usually comes with a discount or bonus, or at least a chance to pre-load, but not always. Sometimes it is just your last chance to pay full price earlier than necessary. Yesterday, a few colleges and charities e-mailed me with a “courtesy reminder” that I had just four days left to give them money this year. Which is technically true and may have some tax benefits associated, but…

: Zubon

You too, dear Kill Ten Rats reader, have just three days left this year to send your favorite Kill Ten Rats writers games, money, and in-game money.

4 thoughts on “False Scarcity

  1. Klepsacovic

    The check is in the mail. I mean, I gave last month. In the drive thing, with the tote bags and a mug. I, I mean he, is not home right now, and does not live here any more and I do not know where.

  2. Green Armadillo

    “My favorite ad is still “last chance to pre-order!” That usually comes with a discount or bonus, or at least a chance to pre-load, but not always. Sometimes it is just your last chance to pay full price earlier than necessary.”

    This is the unheralded brilliance of SWTOR’s “expansion” “pre-order” campaign – they currently claim that they will lock you out of the new content for five days unless you “pre-order” (sounds like a pre-purchase to me) by Jan 7th, never mind that there is no release date and very little in the way of detail about the contents of the expansion. (The promo is being billed as five days’ “early access” rather than stating it as a penalty for failure to preorder fast enough, but the effect is the same.) Why stop at offering a carrot when you have a perfectly good stick?

  3. Zubon Post author

    After receiving donation requests for I don’t know how many days in a row, I told an organization never to e-mail me again. They had an exit survey that asked why, which I dutifully explained. It then exited to a screen reminding me to donate by December 31.

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