The Bet Hedger, Defeated

a winner is not me

Since I was unable to secure a copy of Black Ops 2 early, I bit the bullet (ed.note: haw haw) and did the two things I didn’t want to do: order from Amazon & PAY to have it delivered on its release date.  Why would I do these things?

Let me put it to you this way: you’ve seen the movie Snatch, right?  The part where Turkish is at Bricktop’s pig farm and the Chev Chelios voice over kicks in, about how you don’t want to be in Bricktop’s pocket?  Well that’s exactly where I am, except in this scenario Activision is Bricktop, I’m a more handsome & jacked version of Jason Statham and instead of being fed to pigs, I’m afraid of missing out on “exclusive” DLC, namely the Nuketown 2025 map.  The deal is, if you didn’t pre-order BLOPS 2 you don’t get the special map and you don’t get to take part in Double XP weekend. But I’m not even going to be around my PS3 next weekend and chances are that the Nuketown 2025 map would be available for a pittance shortly anyway.

So knowing that (plus the ULTRA-insult of being a Prime member yet having to pay for shipping anyway), I still went ahead and put the pre-order in.  But in reality, this was just a hedge.  I pass two local video game stores on my way home from work; I’ve got calls into both places to hold the game for me. If it turns out that the Nuketown/Double XP code is in the box regardless of when/where you ordered it (reminiscent of the Rage “pre-order” and get the special edition scam…that iD sold everyone, regardless of pre-order), I can simply return the game I ordered tonight to Amazon.  I image that I’ll be able to pick up a “Hardened” edition tomorrow at my corner spot & everyone will be happy…except Amazon, who get’s nothing, but my shipping & handling.  And what’s an extra $3.50 to quiet the rampant crazies for a few days, huh?

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Early Acquisition Attempts: Black Ops 2

Let’s be clear here: There’s NO WAY I’m going to score an early copy of Black Ops 2. I know this, but it won’t stop me from trying.  Partially because I feel that I have a solid track record of getting games early, partly because I am times a fairly lucky fellow, and partly because I have a sickness.  Of the recent CoD games that I’ve played (CoD4, Modern Warfare 2, Black Ops, Modern Warfare 3) I’ve been able to acquire two of them early (and in the case of MW2, almost a week early).  I’ve checked the four stores (all locally owned) that usually supply me: nothing.  Craigslist is a desert.  So this tells me some things.

One, that Treyarch’s & Activision’s distribution partners are shipping the games out much later than they used to. Think about it, games generally just don’t pop up in a store the day of release; for the most part they’ve sat in the back for a few days to make sure that there’s stock to sell on the day of release. Gamestop won’t break street dates but Super Video Game Pals will ’cause they’ve got the stock and need to compete somehow.

Two, Gamestop is sick of the locals eating their lunch and have somehow (and I have no idea how) ensured that the mom n ‘ pop shop are unable to get their merch early, thus not allowing them those extra days to sell the game which GS is not able to do (Speaking to the lawyers out there, how legally binding is something like “street date”?)

Three, Maybe Gamestop’s left them alone but the local shops have been harassed by the game developers themselves and have ceased selling games early.

Four, and to me, one of the more likely scenarios: if you’re just some rando off the street or on the phone, these local shops are going to tell you to go screw.  But if you’ve got a relationship with the place, they’ll probably slide you a copy under the counter.

Since I had a brief obsession with ordering all of my games from Amazon (but no longer, let me assure you) any good will I’ve built up at the four stores that I traffic is pretty much gone. I called all of my spots yesterday and they all told me that while Saturday is a possibility, it will most likely be available on Monday.  WHAT WILL I DO UNTIL THEN? Oh, right.

(link)

 

Amazon: The Honey Badger of Video Game Retailers

Aww, you want your game? WE AIN’T CARE; we already have your money.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that’s been reading Modern Borefare that I have been anxiously awaiting Borderlands 2. At long last,  the day is almost upon us; in roughly a day I shall finally have it in my grubby clutches.

Rather, you would think you’d have the game on release day if you’d pre-ordered from Amazon and you would be WRONG. Very quietly, Amazon has apparently moved away from “same day delivery as brick and mortar” for new releases. I thought it odd that when I’d pre-ordered Sleeping Dogs there was no mention of same day as release, but because it had beenfor so long that I just assumed it would be delivered on a Tuesday and failed to properly investigate it. Much to my chagrin, the game came almost a week later.

fool me once…

Even with Prime membership, mind you.

So last night, while updating the shipping address from my apartment to my office to ensure that UPS didn’t bone me out of my game (just leave the package, dude!), I saw that the estimated delivery date for Borderlands 2 (Which I’d ordered, what, three weeks ago?) was September 21st. Amazon wasn’t even able to get the game to me a day after release. Unbelievable. I contacted customer service about this issue and while they were nice enough about the entire situation, they weren’t exactly forthcoming with answers. They claimed that is was “an unexpected issue with the distributor”. But when I asked whether they thought this was an issue that customers should proactively be made aware of, the customer service rep just issued some boilerplate response.

I then asked if Amazon couldn’t guarantee the game on release day to Prime members who had pre-ordered the game, why should I even bother shopping through them for games in the first place? The CSR didn’t really have an answer (I didn’t expect him to, it’s not his job to make sure this happens) but since I’m betting that Amazon probably logs and analyzes every interaction they have with customers, maybe someone will see it.

Apparently, this has been an ongoing issue as well; see this thread for more. It’s really frustrating to know that I have to wrangle a customer service rep to even get the item that I purchased shipped to me in a timely fashion.  Might as well go back to my local video game stores. While I may not get triple Amazon points through them, they do generally break street dates so at least I’m getting the game early.

One last (but maybe the best) launch trailer after the jump: Continue reading

Trailer Park, E3 Edition: South Park, Resident Evil 6, Medal of Honor

This game just looks fun, which certainly seems to be missing from many games lately.  Unless all of the reviews say this game is straight garbage, I believe it’s going to be a Day One (or earlier, fingers crossed) purchase for me.

Resident Evil 6 and Medal of Honor: Warfighter are after the jump.

Continue reading

Early Acquisition Attempt – Max Payne 3.

I’ll admit I’m not a patient man, a bad personality trait to have when dealing with the endless hype machine that powers upcoming video game releases.  Thankfully, I live in NYC, where there are still a few independently owned game stores, the best part of which is their general willingness to break street dates. I’m not up to snuff on what the legalities of street dates are, but I know that independent stores are doing what they can to survive the crushing boot heel of Amazon, GameStop & Best Buy.

I’m fortunate to live midway between two such stores and am generally able to pick up new games the Friday before they are released (generally Tuesday is new game day, with the odd exception, like Skyrim, released to coincide with 11.11.11), Monday at the latest.  I’d support the independent stores regardless (shop local!) but the willingness to slide me games early definitely keeps me coming back.  A partial list of games I’ve gotten early:

– Rage, inFamous, inFamous 2 , Uncharted 2, Uncharted 3, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Mass Effect 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Fallout: New Vegas, UFC Undisputed…

(Craigslist is also worth checking starting the Friday before new games are released; you never know what’s going to appear.)

Which brings me to my point: I fully expected to just stroll on in to either of my locals, pick up a copy of Max Payne 3 and be bullet timing people in the face, no sweat.  So much to my chagrin, NOBODY had an early copy.  I called around to all five of my usual spots and nothing.  So is this the new trend?  Broken street dates are now a no-go? The owner of one of the shops I frequent once said “GameStop is cracking down on early releases”; what does GameStop have to do with it?  Do they really wield that much power?  Yet when Mass Effect 3’s release rolled around, I was in the store and told, “Jimmy* is on his way back from the distributor now with a limited supply for each console.” So it would seem that the distributor themselves are the ones who decide who gets what when.  Adding another layer to the mystery is that GameStop often has games the Friday before release date to make sure order fulfillment**; so if they aren’t even apart of the distribution system serving the independents what could Jimmy possibly be talking about?

I hope to look into this in greater depth in a future post.  Stay tuned for that, but for now, know that my Early Acquisition streak has smashed up against the rocky shores of an Unattainable Copy of Max Payne 3.

Max Payne (PS3) – Acquired early? NO.

*Pseudonym; also I don’t know his real name.  His real name might actually be Jimmy.

 

Broken street date, Fallout New Vegas

**This is just conjecture on my part.  Based on me acquiring an early copy of Fallout: New Vegas with a sticker on it that read “D0 Not Sell Until October 19, 2010”; I bought my copy on October 15th, 2010.  I knew it had come from a GameStop after I opened the game when I got home because the pre-order bonus gear matched with the bonus being offered at GS.