I don’t trust the Steam Summer Adventure

Update 6/24/14 12:09pm ET…

It has been pointed out to myself and others that the Steam community on subreddit have devised Operation Steam — a collaborative effort where each team will win two days of the Summer Adventure, giving everyone a fair shot. We wrote about it HERE.

A lot of people have emailed me to notify me of this. After spending a ton of time reading the comments on the subreddit threads, it's hard to be anything but amazed at how the community could organize this. At first I was a bit upset. I'm a competitive person, and this was essentially removing the competitive spirit of the Summer Adventure. But Valve are the ones that offered a paid option to switch teams, and the only people that really profit from the fees of marketplace sales are them. I don't feel so bad anymore. Like I said, I'm genuinely impressed. Still, I would have also liked to see how the Summer Adventure would have played out with the teams not working together. 

Thanks for weighing in on the subject in both the comment section and through email. Enjoy the rest of the Steam Summer Sale and don't go broke. 

Original Story:

Valve, the video game company that everyone trusts for no good reason, has reinvented their Steam Summer Sale yet again. Last year during the Summer Sale, Valve introduced trading cards. Certain games would have cards, which you could collect/trade/sell and craft badges. It was a game within a game. 

This year, Valve has given us the Summer Adventure. Every Steam user is placed onto a team — pink, green, purple, blue, red — and gain points for their team by crafting badges from cards they get. Every 24 hour period, the leading team is declared winner and 30 members of that team will receive three games from their Wishlist for free. It's a game within a game on a platform that sells games where you get cards from playing games. And it's genius.

At least it would be if the system wasn't broken.

You're able to buy tokens for about $17 to switch to another team — meaning that a bunch of people could just switch to whichever team is winning every day. While a sane-minded gamer like you and I might think, "Why not just put that $17 towards a game you want instead of spending it on the minute chance to win three free games," that's not how all people think. So trustworthy Valve, who's always doing gamers right, have added in a microtransaction allowing you to break their system.

And it is breaking their system. How else would you explain this:

summer adventure steam day 4 scoreboard

Here we can see that every team is within 3,000 points of each other, except for the leader… which is 640,000 points ahead. If pink team is so great on Day 4, you would think that they must've had a strong Day 3 too… right?

steam summer adventure day 3 scoreboard

Well that's quite the jump. This might be the worst bar graph I've ever seen, where the difference between 747k and 332k is represented exactly the same as the difference between 951k and 311k. Let's check out the other days' results.

steam summer adventure day 2

steam summer adventure day 1

There is no rhyme or reason to the results. The disparity has gotten worse every day, and there's random jumps of 600k points. It's not a slight increase or decrease for the winner. Instead, it's out of the blue and completely random, almost like it's fixed so that every team can win at some point. In addition to these bar graphs, Valve has added the ability to see how many points each team is losing gaining every 10 minutes with the daily points breakdown, seen here:

daily points breakdown

I'm sure that the ability to buy consumables that give your team more points or steal it from another team affects the standings, but again, I don't understand the disparity. How is it a different team every day that's ahead by such a large margin while the other teams are all clumped together? If everyone switched to the leading team, wouldn't that team lead every day? 

I won't figure out the answer, because Valve isn't giving us any information. They tell us how many points each action is worth, and how many points each team is getting every 10 minutes, but they're not saying how. They should show us the top contributors to each team, and how teams are getting the points they are — how many consumables they're using, what badges, etc. 

This may not matter to all people, but it matters to some. Everything I know about statistics and trends are wrong here. And neither myself nor any of my friends can figure it out. People are spending money on this with the hope that there's fair play… but there's no way to know for sure. And how fair is it to some people when others can just buy their way onto the winning team?

I'd just like a more in-depth breakdown… that's all. And I know I'm not the only one. What would you like to see change in next year's implementation of the Summer Adventure?

You can follow Senior Editor Lance Liebl on Twitter @Lance_GZ. Or you can email him at [email protected].