Xbox Countdown launches 17 days of deals to compete with Steam's Winter Sale

With the longer sale, Microsoft hopes to keep users firmly planted in front of their consoles.

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Seasonal sales are one of the best parts of PC gaming, and now they’re headed to Microsoft’s game consoles as well.

With the “Countdown” sale starting today, Microsoft is offering 17 days of deep discounts on Xbox One and Xbox 360 titles. Highlights from this week on Xbox One include 30 percent off Grand Theft Auto V, 40 percent off Ori and the Blind Forest, and 40 percent off The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Xbox 360 deals include 75 percent off Red Dead Redemption and 60 percent off Madden NFL 16. In most cases, Xbox Live Gold members get an extra 10 percent off. Here’s a blog post with the full list of deals.

On December 29, Microsoft offer will another set of weekly deals. Daily deals are also available, starting with 50 percent off Need for Speed, and 40 percent off a PopCap Bundle with Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare and Peggle 2: Magical Masters Edition. Overall, the format is somewhat similar to Valve’s own Steam sales—whose Winter version just launched—but without any meta-games or hours-long flash sales.

While Steam devotees may scoff at Microsoft’s efforts, they do come at a time when the company is taking Windows gaming more seriously. With Windows 10, users can stream Xbox games to any PC over Wi-Fi, and can also track achievements, send messages, and view friend activity through the new Xbox app. Down the road, we may see a push for “buy once, play anywhere” across console and PC, but Microsoft hasn’t done much work on that front yet.

Why this matters: Game consoles are becoming more PC-like, not just in their system architecture, but in their approach to packaging and selling games. With deep seasonal discounts, Microsoft is embracing the impulse-buy mentality that lures people to PC gaming, and is giving those gamers some reasons to stick with their consoles even as they binge on Steam deals.

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