I have to admit video game-related Black Friday sales (Black Week really) seriously caught me off guard this year. I ended up grabbing several high-profile 2016 games I didn’t think I was going to bother buying any time soon. Originally I didn’t have many planned Black Friday targets, but from my perspective this year seems very different from previous years, mainly in regards to sales for PC games.
For the last several years Black Friday for most retailers in the realm of video games has been an affair almost entirely for console gaming, the extent of PC gaming sales only going so far as Steam and possibly Amazon along with an obscure sale from another store here or there. I’d ignored the sales for games like Dishonored 2 or Gears of War 4 in Black Friday ads because they always only mentioned PlayStation and Xbox versions. This year I did not at all expect pretty much every major North American retailer to include PC versions of this year’s AAA releases in their sales.
Actually, almost all of my major shopping was done before Thanksgiving because the deals from the beginning of that week surprised me so much. I never in my life expected the Windows 10 app store to chop 40 percent off Forza Horizon 3 and Gears of War 4, both of which I went ahead and grabbed despite my misgivings about Universal Windows Platform apps. Then Steam chopped the price of the full season of the new Hitman in half not even a month after the final episode launched. Before those there was Best Buy’s 40 percent off sale of Titanfall 2 which included the PC version, something I’ve never seen Best Buy do.
Even more shocking is how these same deals were undercut on Black Friday itself. The Microsoft Store website (not the Windows app store) had slightly lower deals for Gears 4 and Horizon in the form of both boxed Xbox One copies and digital code cards for Xbox One and PC. I saw lower deals for Titanfall 2. GameStop of all places dropped Hitman for PC down to $15. Right before Dishonored 2 first came out I paid Green Man Gaming $47 for a code, and as of Black Friday I hadn’t gotten around to installing it, only to see Best Buy selling it for $35. Again, I expected that kind of deal for the console versions, but not PC. Dishonored 2 in particular was a surprise because from what I’d seen, steep discounts only happen for games that come out on or before Halloween. Dishonored 2 came out basically two weeks before Black Friday.
When I skimmed the Black Friday ads for places like Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and GameStop I don’t think any of these PC deals actually showed up.
Most years when I think about my plans for playing the holiday season games it usually concerns all the big games I plan to leave behind due to time or money constraints. For December 2016 however I have to figure out how to shimmy in the likes of Gears 4, Horizon 3, Hitman, Dishonored 2, The Division (that was $10 on Amazon), Hyper Light Drifter, Oxenfree, Inside, and probably The Last Guardian when that comes out. Oh, and I’ve still barely even started Deus Ex: Mankind Divided or Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. I can only promise that I will start each of these games, not necessarily finish them.