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The 2013 Steam Summer Sale officially launched today. The start of the 12-day sales event is marked by discounts on high-profile hits like BioShock Infinite, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Dragon Age: Origins.

Each day, Valve will offer a different set of 10 discounts. Today's daily deals are for the following games:
  • BioShock Infinite
  • Endless Space: Emperor Edition
  • Antichamber
  • Call of Juarez: Gunslinger
  • Hotline Miami
  • Left 4 Dead 2
  • Don't Starve
  • Defiance
  • Scribblenauts Unlimited
  • Toki Tori 2+
If you haven't played BioShock Infinite yet and you enjoy story-driven games, I'd strongly recommend picking that one up. It's one of the best written games in recent history. It's a pretty decent shooter as well.

These daily discounts are supplemented by a series of 8-hour Flash Sales. Skyrim and Dragon Age are two of the first four. Joining them are GRID 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Players will be able to vote on one of the next Flash Sales. The current vote is between hits from last fall: Far Cry 3, Borderlands 2 and Dishonored.

Steam also has a number of sales that will be running throughout the entire summer event. For example, all Half-Life games are 50%, as is Grand Theft Auto series. The full list of discounted games is too long to post here so you should just check it out for yourself.

This will be the first Summer Sale since Valve implemented trading cards on Steam. Steam Trading Cards are virtual collectibles earned by playing participating games and trading with other Steam users. After you collect all of the available trading cards for a given game, you can craft a "game badge" that earns you extras like coupons, profile backgrounds and emoticons. Badges will also level up your account, earning you new perks like a longer friends list and profile showcases. To celebrate the sale, Steam has implemented trading cards for 50 more games. They've also introduced 10 Summer Getaway Cards that can only be earned between now and the end of the event.

The Steam Summer Sale is a good time to take advantage of the game platform's Wishlist feature. If you want a game and it's not on sale yet, just add it to your Wishlist. You can then set up your email preferences so you'll get pinged whenever a game on your Wishlist is put on sale.

I managed to get through last summer's sale mostly unscathed. If memory serves, I only dropped $2.50 on Hitman: Blood Money. My willpower's a bit worse now that I've got the Steam mobile app, though. Half of the dozen games I nabbed during the last holiday sale were bought while drinking. I suppose that's less embarrassing than drunk texts, though.

Steam's servers are getting slammed right now so you might want to wait a little while until you start shopping. None of the deals are short-term enough that you need to jump in right away. Plus, the Steam Summer Sale will be around until July 22nd.
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