The Steam winter auction thing ended this morning. They ended up putting gems back in the marketplace, and they inflated way above what I thought they were worth based on building packs or buying Civ. The end price was $1.35 to buy a bag of gems (or $1.19 to sell one after Steam took their share). I was thinking gems would be worth more like 40 cents, so that's a pretty substantial price increase.
The first couple auctions of Civ actually went for a little over 100000 gems. Which means a couple people ended up paying between $119 and $135 for a game currently on sale for 40% off ($30). I actually can't comprehend how that would happen. I guess those people just drastically underestimated where the market would settle on gems. When gems were put back into the marketplace they debuted around 80 cents and stayed there for about a day before spiking up to 90 cents. And then a day after that they were up to almost $1.50 for a brief period of time.
I'm just estimating here based on the little graph but it seems like Steam pocketed around $115k in brokerage fees over the course of the event. Sthenno was certainly right that Steam was going to be the ones making out like bandits. But if you got in at the 80 cent mark and were confident enough you could have earned almost 50% profit even after paying Steam's cut.
Civ never went lower than 50k gems that I saw, which means all 100 copies went for way more than they were worth. Those people could have liquidated those gems for cash and bought the game from Steam and made extra money for themselves in the process. And while the first few people got snookered by the price ramping up (especially since if the marketplace entry hadn't come back for gems I doubt it would have gone up in value nearly as much as it did because it would have been more difficult for people to buy and sell) I can't understand the people who were stilling winning auctions for the last half of the event when the gems were already obviously worth more than a dollar! It doesn't bode well for these people's Civs...
That isn't to say there weren't deals to be had if you looked around. Actually going through the list of games was a huge undertaking. I never actually looked at them all. But I did find one game on my wishlist that normally sells for $44 and it was being auctioned off for less than 8k gems. Which means that game was going for $9-$10 when it's normally $44. That's a good deal, even if you expect it to go on sale for a pretty significant discount during the sale. It actually did go on sale for 66% off, which puts it at $15. So if you were going to buy that game you were better off buying gems and bidding on the auction than you would have been buying it the normal way. I decided to pick it up and bought the gems to make up the difference between what I got from disenchanting stuff and what I thought it would cost. I ended up winning it for 6600 gems, which put it at a little under $9. Huzzah!
The end result of the auction for me is I put $10 into my Steam wallet and now I have $21.52 and a $44 (or $15) game. I think Steam deleted all the packs I'd snuck from the gem exploit incident that I hadn't already opened or sold so I wasn't up as much as I thought I would be. But still... Not too bad at all.