Steam Holiday Sale 2011 and the Dreaded 503 Grinch
Error 503 Service Unavailable
Look familiar? It should if you've been on Steam's front page recently.
Yep, it's the holidays on Steam again and for the past day a lot of disappointed people (me included) have been getting these errors. If you're lucky enough to actually get the initial store page enjoy it while you can as chances are you aren't going any further.
Steam had been running a daily giveaway based on user's "wish lists " whereby clicking on the daily game deal would automatically enter into a chance to be one of 10 lucky Steam users to get their top 10 games from their wish lists for free.
That all ended Monday December 19th at 10AM when the Steam winter Sale started. At that point most games in the Steam library were offered at a discount with a new promotion called the "Gift Pile" whereby you were awarded discount coupons or free games for completing daily objectives listed on the Gift Pile Page.
The objectives change every 24 hours and include awards ranging from just showing up on Steam to completing a task in a specific game. In a stroke of marketing genius many objectives require certain games to be in your "library" to complete the task. If you don't have the particular game you have the opportunity to purchase it right from the "gift pile" screen usually at a discount.
So with all this promotional blitz it's no wonder the service is experiencing a heavy load. Just like Christmas this kind of buying frenzy only comes around once a year. Although the summer sales can cause outages they pale in comparison to the holiday rush on Steam.
So enjoy some holiday cheer and set your alarm clock to some ungodly hour of the night over the next few days when all the normal people are dreaming of dancing sugarplums should you want to partake in the frenzy.