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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Holiday Sale Survival Guide

No, Steam, no!
I have no idea where this originated, but it's hilariously accurate.

It's not officially Christmas until I've been saddled with feelings of shame and guilt after adding a dozen games to my already gigantic backlog. Amazon, Valve - why must you tempt me so?

If you're at all concerned about being able to afford food in January, you might want to take a look at the following tips.

1. Use resources like /r/GameDeals and to find the best deals.

While Steam might be the "Granddaddy of Them All" when it comes to offering games at stupid prices during the holidays, there's a lot of other stuff going on elsewhere on the Internet. Sites like Amazon and Green Man Gaming have been offering deals on par with - and occasionally better than - those of Valve's service. Plus, with Origin and Uplay on the prowl, it's increasingly common (albeit somewhat annoying) to find games that simply aren't offered on Steam.

Bottom line - it pays to look around, and using some kind of deal aggregator makes everything super easy. Sites like the aforementioned and can also give you an idea of the pricing trends for a given game and whether or not it's been cheaper in the past.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Finally Took the Plunge

After going back and forth on a graphics card upgrade for several weeks now, I finally pulled the trigger on an XFX Double D HD 7950 from NCIX. With a $20 referral promo code and $30 rebate I'll be getting the card for ~$258 total. Pretty excited.

The battle more or less came down to three cards in the end: the HD 7870 GHz Edition, the GTX 660 Ti, and the HD 7950. Since we're nearing the end of the current graphics card generation I was reluctant to spend money on a 7870; it's definitely an upgrade over my current 560 Ti, but chances are it won't look so hot compared to the next-gen stuff. The 660 Ti looked like a worthy competitor (plus it has 2 DVI ports) but that 192-bit memory bus still makes me a little sad. In the end, the fact that you can overclock the shit out of the 7950 (on the order of 25% or so) combined with the fact that it'll (hopefully) hold its value the longest out of the bunch led me to choose the 7950.

The price didn't hurt, either.

I'll be sure to post some unboxing pics and benchmarks once I get everything up and running next week. Guess I better grab some numbers from my 560 Ti so I have something to compare the new card to.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Humble THQ Bundle

The Humble Bundle guys are at it again, this time offering the "Humble THQ Bundle" to the masses. You can pay whatever you want (as long as it's a minimum of $1) for the following titles:

  • Darksiders
  • Metro 2033
  • Red Faction Armageddon
  • Company of Heroes
  • CoH: Opposing Fronts
  • CoH: Tales of Valor
  • Saints Row The Third*
  • (* if you beat the ~$5.50 average)

This deal is straight up ridiculous and probably has something to do with the financial dilemma that the publisher finds itself in. THQ has already laid off a bunch of people and delayed a few games; the future doesn't exactly look bright at this point.

Humble Bundles traditionally offer DRM-free downloads of games on Windows, OSX, and Linux for as little as 1 cent. This time around there's a minimum of $1 and all of the games are Windows-only and tied to Steam. Several people (see: Ars Technica, The Penny Arcade Report) have been making a lot of noise claiming that Humble Bundle has sold out and destroyed their reputation by partnering with a AAA publisher for this bundle. Ben Kuchera of The PA Report said that "[this] isn’t a Humble Bundle, it’s a Steam sale." This seems a little bit like grandstanding to me.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Black Friday Postmortem

The dust appears to have finally settled after an extended weekend filled with gravy and impulse buying. I managed to score the following:

  • Knights of the Old Republic I + II ($2.49 each)
  • Orcs Must Die! 2 Complete ($6.24)
  • The Witcher Extended Edition Director's Cut ($2.49)
  • Civilization 5 Gods and Kings ($7.49)
  • L.A. Noire Complete ($7.49)
  • Sleeping Dogs ($13.60)

That's a total of $42.29 if you're keeping score at home. I'm currently playing Sleeping Dogs and from what I've seen so far that game is worth $42 alone. I'm pretty content with my haul, though the backlog just got that much larger.

Things were a little less exciting on the hardware side. There were some tempting SSD deals to be had - Amazon, Newegg, and TigerDirect all offered a 120GB Kingston HyperX 3K for $60 at various times throughout the weekend - but I held back hoping for a deal on an HD7950. That deal never materialized.

Instead, there were several 660 Ti's available for ~$230-260 after rebate. I'm assuming AMD has been killing it with the whole Never Settle Bundle thing and that retailers used Black Friday to move some of their Nvidia inventory. There's nothing wrong with the 660 Ti per se, but that 192-bit memory bus still worries me. If I'm going to put down money for a new card this late into a generation I don't want to make any compromises. AMD's HD8000-series cards should be making an appearance in the next couple of months and I don't want to regret my purchase.

On the bright side, my wallet made it through the weekend without taking too much of a hit. With Steam's Holiday Sale supposedly starting December 20th, that's probably a good thing.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Deal Overload

It's been a busy week thus far - so much so that I haven't posted in a couple of days - and things are only going to get busier from here. It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year as far as PC gaming is concerned. Hopefully you and your wallet have prepared appropriately.

Deal-watching is going to be kind of a big thing for the next five weeks or so, and reddit's /r/GameDeals and sites like and are going to be your best friend. Time to shovel another 6 or 7 games onto the backlog pile.

I've already picked up Civilization V Gods and Kings for $7.49 (Amazon), Sleeping Dogs for $13.60 (Green Man Gaming, no longer valid), and KOTOR I and II for $2.49 each (Steam). On the hardware side of things, Newegg has a Gigabyte 660 Ti for $250 after $20 rebate, with Assassin's Creed III and Borderlands 2 included at no cost. There's also a Galaxy 660 Ti for $225 AR, sans Borderlands 2. I'm debating whether to jump on a card this week, pick up a cheap 128GB SSD, or just hold off on everything till the next generation.

Should be an exciting week regardless. Happy hunting.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Possible Deal of the Year from Amazon

Amazon is offering a pretty sick THQ bundle this weekend: six games for ten bucks, plus a $5 coupon code. Ridiculous.

Should you take advantage of this deal you'll score copies of Homefront, Metro 2033, Red Faction Armageddon and Red Faction Guerrilla, STALKER Shadow of Chernobyl, and Warhammer 40K Space Marine. To make the deal that much sweeter, Amazon includes a promo code good for $5 off of an "Editor's Choice" game during the month of January. Amazon ran a similar promotion last year and games like Assassin's Creed (1 and 2) and The Witcher were available on the cheap. Some eligible games were on sale for 5 bucks, meaning they were effectively free with a promo code.

This deal might not last through the weekend, so act quickly if you're interested.

Tantalizing THQ Medley [Amazon]

Tom's Hardware Reviews
Ars Technica