Hello Sony? It’s me, Common Sense

Hey there Sony, it’s your old friend common sense. Long time no see right? Well, listen, I know we haven’t talked much since you didn’t invite me to that 2006 E3 conference, and I’d love to reminisce about those times we hung out and you moved to the CD format and revolutionized the industry, or added a DVD player to your system and changed how a game console was viewed as the central home entertainment piece, but the truth is that I came here to talk about something serious.

I heard about your new patent you see. You know, the one that in only a couple of years could theoretically allow you to end the sale of used games by flagging them and preventing the discs from being used on other systems? The one that sent Gamestop’s stock tumbling down 5% at just the idea of it? You know the one right? You do? Oh great man. Great.

It’s just, I thought I should be the one to tell you it’s not a good idea. Take it from me that it just doesn’t make sense. I know you grind your teeth (a practice I also don’t advise) every time you think of the used game market and the money that Gamestop alone takes from it that you essentially don’t see a dime of, just like I know that it makes your blood boil to think of it as anything less than organized piracy. And hey, you don’t need to tell me that if all of those used game profits went back into yours, and the developer’s, pockets, then you could theoretically change the literal fortune of the industry either. Remember, this is your old pal common sense. I get that.

But you can’t honestly believe that you wield a position of unscrupulous power that would allow you to get away with this do you? You do understand that Microsoft and Nintendo (who at least call me for drinks once in a while…just saying) have equal or larger market shares worldwide to boast about , and used the entire last generation for the lone goal of making people forget the name Playstation was once synonymous with video games right? I mean, you know that actually implementing such an idea would only drive gamers to those systems in droves, and as they make the kind of profits you only dreamed about with this act precisely by not implementing it, you could only sit and watch as every loyalist you had jumps ship?

What are you thinking man? Do you believe that you somehow have enough exclusive titles that gamers will still stick with you through this? I got news for you pal, “Uncharted” and “God of War” don’t come out that often. Or maybe you think the massive fan support that the new kid on the block the “Ouya” generated with exactly the opposite kind of philosophy that you are proposing was just a fluke? Or that should Valve release the Steam Box it wouldn’t be the most anticipated console to hit the market in years? Did the Playstation Move, Home, the PSP and Vita, and Wonderbook somehow become amazing successes when I wasn’t paying attention, so you’re not worrying about the repercussions of your actions anymore?

Ok, that was harsh. I apologize.

I Mean, Just Because Someone Else Had It First Doesn’t Mean it Isn’t a Good Idea Right?

But really my point is this. You’ve changed Sony. You used to be cool. You brought people a system in the Playstation that for the first time got the kids who used to beat up other kids for playing video games, playing the same video games. You changed the world overnight by supporting “Final Fantasy VII”, and shaped a new generation of controller design with the Dualshock. You’ve given countless runaway and unwanted developers and properties homes and turned them into favorite sons. Hell, you invented the Playstation 2!

Yet look at you now. Drawing up papers that would screw over the little guy the world over so you can maintain your finger grip grasp on video game mountain, rather than lend a hand to consumers in greater need. You’d rather sink retail stores, and make gamers pay a premium on all titles they buy, and force parents to work harder to afford the games their kids want for their birthdays or Christmas, just so you can theoretically see profits grow without any creative effort on your part. Also, even just selling this technology to developers for their optional use as you’re rumored to do, doesn’t make this any better than peddling drugs rather than using them.

Maybe this whole idea is just a bluff, but let me tell you something most people know. Puffing up your chest to look bigger, doesn’t really make you bigger.

But hey, I don’t want this to be a fight between us Sony. I just want you to know, that I know, that you would never actually do something so monumentally stupid as attempting to ban the sale of used games. I know that, because should you go through with it, there won’t even be the need for a fight, because in every respect in which success in this industry is measured,  you will have lost right out of the gate.

How do I know that? Well, far be it for me to brag, but it is just common sense.

The Best of Black Friday Game Deals

I usually try to avoid the mass hysteria of Black Friday, but in the case of video games, I too fall victim to the beautiful deals and throw myself into the madness with open wallet, and little regard for common financial sense.

Luckily when it comes to games you can find a lot of great deals online that don’t require you to arm yourself and push some fellow human being on the ground to take advantage of. In that spirit, here is just a small sampling of the best online deals available right now.

*Note: Don’t be surprised if some of these are gone by the time you get to them as deals move and sell out quickly. Be sure to act accordingly then and as always consult the great Dealzon for the best finds.

Grand Theft Auto IV Complete Edition, GTA: San Andreas, and LA: Noire Complete (PC Download) – Amazon – $14.99

Have you ever eaten a food that was too rich and decadent? Same thing with this deal. Countless hours of Rockstar Gaming greatness for under $20 is almost too good a deal, as you’re basically forfeiting your life by buying it.

Get It Here

Dishonored (PC Download) – Green Man Gaming -$22.50

Anytime you can get a game that’s barely a month old for under $25 it’s a deal worth checking out. When that game is one of the best of the year by a mile, you should probably stop what you’re doing right now (including reading this) and pursue it.

Get It Here

Mass Effect Trilogy (PC Download) – Gamefly – $23.99

I once bought a Rolex watch in Chinatown that was an absolute perfect knock off, but broke later that day. It was a valuable lesson on something being too good to be true, and is the only reason I wouldn’t recommend jumping on this deal. It’s so mind-blowingly cheap, there almost has to somehow be a catch.

Get It Here

Sleeping Dogs (360, PS3) – Best Buy – $24.99

Lots of great deals at Best Buy on console games, but kind of hard to ignore the steal on this modern Hong Kong crime epic and its bountiful gameplay. A real know a guy, who knows a guy type steal.

Get It Here

Xbox 360 250GB Bundle with “Skyrim” and “Forza Motorsport 4” – NewEgg – $189.99

If you were somehow waiting to buy a 360 until just the right moment, then getting one for under $200 with one of the best RPG’s and one of the best racing games of all time, would finally be that moment.

Get It Here

Dead Or Alive 5 (360, PS3) – Gamestop – $29.99

While Gamestop isn’t exactly setting the world on fire with their bargains, there are a few to be found. Definitely grab the best fighting game of the year while you can.

Get It Here

Steam Autumn Sale

Finally it is once again time for the Steam Autumn Sale, which is running until 11/26. With almost too many good games to list, and deals rotating constantly, as well as mark downs of some kind on pretty much everything, it’s the first place any PC gamer should go.

Get Them Here

Walmart and Best Buy give up on trade-ins

E-play kiosk in Best Buy.It seems like it was just yesterday that Best Buy and Walmart tried to horn in on Gamestop’s used game profits. As it turns out that little endeavor wasn’t so successful; both stores will be closing used game operations within the month.

In case you don’t recall, it wasn’t actually Walmart or Best Buy handling the used game operations. Both companies outsourced the work to E-play. E-play suspended operations on Monday and will remove its kiosks from the select locations of both retailers within the next three weeks. Neither retailer has plans to branch out with its own system.

It’s a little surprising that things would fall apart so quickly but I never really expected either store to make money. Most of the used game junkies I know have a certain rapport with their local Gamestop employees, who manage to keep the words “we don’t get paid on commission” out of every conversation.

Source: Industry Gamers

Xbox 360 Wireless N reappears for $88

Xbox 360 Wireless N adapter from Costco.Just about a month ago the Xbox 360 802.11n adapter started showing up on various retailers’ websites. It originally listed at $99 with an expected launch date of November 3rd. Well, Tuesday came and went with nary a word about the new peripheral, and the product listings had pretty much disappeared.

The overpriced periph returned today, though, popping up on Costco’s website with an $88 price tag and free shipping. The site lists a November 10th ship date. Obviously things are subject to change, as we found out the last time. I have to say, though, if waiting another month would drop the price to $77, it just might be worth it. I’d almost sort of consider maybe calling that nearly reasonable. But not quite.

The world can’t get enough Modern Warfare

Modern Warfare 2: Prestige Edition.Now that Modern Warfare 2 is less than a week away, it seems the world is obsessing over any aspect of the game it can find. We’ve had offensive ads and offensive content, but that doesn’t seem to be stopping the masses of Call of Duty fans from flocking to stores to pre-order. Gamestop told Game Hunters that MW2 is now the most pre-ordered game it has ever sold.

Activision has really pulled out the stops to get people interested in the game. Sure Modern Warfare was great, but it’s more than just the game. Walmart, for example, will be selling copies of the game that have been autographed by the dev team to the first 20 people at each of its stores. Details like that really get the nerdy blood flowing, almost as much as the prospect of knife throw kills. If I had the chance at an autographed copy of the game if it meant cutting out the knife throw, you can bet I’d stick with the knife throw.

Gamestop might just buy a digital distributor

Gamestop store.If you can’t beat ‘em, buy ‘em. That’s Gamestop’s new take on digital distribution anyway. At an analyst only conference this week, the used game/accessory retailer “detailed” its plans for entering digital distribution. I say “detailed” because the company’s “plan” is, ah, underdeveloped to say the least.

For now Gamestop plans to: 1 – increase in-store sales of online currency cards for online games purchases, 2 – make more games available for digital distro, and 3 – make a “strategic investment” in the market or buy an existing digital distro house. Really smashing ideas guys. Now what’s the actual plan.

Obviously the most concrete idea is number three, but that’s also the hardest to accomplish. Both Valve and IGN (News Corp.) would be reluctant to part with Steam or Direct2Drive. As for other distro houses, nothing else is nearly so well established, and that would mean competing directly with two established and extremely popular alternatives. Back to the drawing board, fellas.

Gamestop exclusive controller gets official

Gamestop exclusive 360 controller.Major Nelson has a little more to say about that Gamestop-exclusive controller that showed up on the used game dealer’s website earlier this month. It’s a partnership between Xbox and Gamestop and still totally hideous. For some reason Nelson doesn’t mention why the controller is the way it is, but if you look at the Forza 3 intro vid it seems pretty obvious. Recognize anything about that R8? Something look familiar?

The controller will come bundled with a play-and-charge kit for $69.99. That’s an awful lot to pay for an awfully ugly controller. It’s even more when you consider the holiday controller bundle, which gives you the same thing (minus the hideous makeover) plus four Xbox Live Arcade titles.

Xbox 360 wireless N adapter is a ridiculous $99.99

Xbox 360 802.11n wireless adapter.Looks like Microsoft is ready to win back some of the profit it lost when it cut the price of the 360 this year. Gamestop has just added the new 802.11n wireless adapter to its online store for a whopping $99.99. That’s an insane price for a wireless USB adapter, made worse because it’s such a big performance leap for gamers looking to go wireless.

Here’s the copy from Gamestop:

Designed for versatility and ease, the Xbox 360 Wireless Networking Adapter ‘N’ enhances your Xbox 360 experience in the digital home, seamlessly synchronizing with the Xbox 360 system with the newest Wireless N standard. Wireless N offers increased speed, coverage and reliability and can easily stream media-intensive applications such as ‘Games on Demand’, HD movies, videos and music to your Xbox 360 system from Xbox LIVE® or your Media Center PC.

Oh how I long for the day wireless gaming will be reasonable. The adapter will be available November 3rd.

Game Crazy closing 200 locations this month

Game Crazy store.According to a recent post at Joystiq, used game retailer Game Crazy is looking to close 200 stores this month. The company only has 680 stores, so 200 is a massive chunk to shut down. I was especially surprised to read that the video rental locations attached to the game stores will remain open after the game locations shut down.

The company issued this formal statement:

Movie Gallery, Inc. is currently operating in an unprecedented consumer/retail environment. In order for us to continue to best serve our millions of customers across North America we’re addressing underperforming stores and ensuring that there is sufficient [return on investment] associated with each of these stores going forward. The vast majority of our stores will be unaffected by these efforts.

Maybe Movie Gallery should take a look at recent stats for movie rentals. While that industry dies a slow and irritating death, the used game business continues to frustrate publishers with big sales numbers. Perhaps you should refocus your business model?

Toys R Us Unveils Buyback Program

Toys R Us.It looks like Toys R Us is entering the used game business, but not in the way you might expect. Originally it looked as if they would be accepting used games and reselling them, just like your average GameStop, Blockbuster, or Hollywood Video does. As it turns out, though, they’re just buying the game, but they’re even buying the old stuff. As far back as Intellivision old stuff. Yeah, that’s old.

The company is taking the games it purchases back and giving them to a third-party company who refurbs the games for resale. I’m not sure just what that entails, and Toys R Us has yet to be forthcoming with details. As several commenters on Joystiq pointed out, it seems and odd program to establish, particularly because those old games can fetch hundreds of dollars on eBay. For newer games it seems to make some sense. Gamers get store credit for every game they turn in, which in turn means more business for the toy store. But aren’t other companies already doing this? And aren’t they doing it really well?

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