Black Friday: Another Sign PC Gaming Retail Is (Supposed To Be) Dead

PC Gaming at retail is supposed to be dead in North America so it should be no surprise that Black Friday (and Cyber Monday) have completely ignored it. It still sucks though.

Maybe most people don’t realize it, but in fairly recent years I was able to get some good Black Friday deals for the retail versions of big PC games. This season of sales didn’t truly begin to ignore PC DVD-ROMs until maybe a year or two ago.

I think less than a month after Left 4 Dead 2 came out in 2009 I was able to get it half-off on a Black Friday deal at GameStop — probably lower than the Steam sale price at the time. Most people probably just looked at the deal GameStop applied to the Xbox 360 version, but I was able to get a PC copy at the same discount. Things like this were the norm until maybe 2013. In more recent years I remember getting similar deals like a physical copy of RAGE for $22 a month and a half after it came out (back when 24GB was a lot to download) or a $10 physical copy of Max Payne 3. This year? Nothing. Well, nothing except GameStop deals on Blizzard games, and of course digital.

If you’re wondering why I’m even complaining about this, I’ve spent like three previous blog posts complaining about how too many people, particularly in North America, have internet service that’s stuck in 2006. All these deals have shown up for Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, but I can’t take advantage of them because the the game would eat a 38GB chunk out of my monthly data cap. I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to import the game from the UK but that would mean dropping $30 on a six-hour expansion pack — the same amount I paid for the main game, The New Order, and probably less time than it would take for me to download the expansion.

One of my other targets for deals this season has been Grand Theft Auto V which is 64GB, but since the PC version came out in April this year all physical copies have stayed at $59.99. I’m holding out for the Microsoft Store to throw me a bone since that’s where I got that Max Payne 3 deal back in 2012.

I guess the funniest aspect about this whole problem is how chaotic physical PC game pricing is these days. It seems to usually be either way above or way below console pricing, both due to the differences in demand. When there isn’t a sale on I think Skyrim: Legendary Edition is $40 on Steam, but $20 if you can find a disc at retail. Call of Duty Black Ops II still has a list price of $60 on Steam but the PC version is $15 at retail. Both games unlock on Steam by the way.

Wanna know something else weird about North American PC gaming retail? Up until maybe one or two years ago you could still find new shrink-wrapped copies of games from the 90’s and early 2000’s at Best Buy or Office Depot. Either somewhere on a back shelf or on a rack next to the cash register you could still see jewel case copies of Fallout 2Star Wars Jedi Knight II, or Star Wars Republic Commando. I have no idea why, but where I live they seem to be gone now. If you look hard enough though there are still a few copies of the latest games like Far Cry 4 or The Witcher 3 — buried underneath Blizzard games of course.

I don’t know a whole lot about internet infrastructure in Europe, but I’ve heard stories about how there’s more competition and in some cases better service in places like the UK and France compared to the US, which makes the continuing survival of retail PC games there odd to me. Then again North America has almost always gotten the short end of the stuck when it comes to retail shipping. I’m not sure why but I think it has something to do with the geographic size making shipping more expensive, which is one of the same factors making faster internet adoption more difficult.


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