On Friday afternoon, Twitter alerted me to a video game deal in Canada where if you traded any current generation (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U) game, you could trade it in for Assassins Creed 4, Call of Duty: Ghosts, or Battlefield 4. These three games were released earlier this month so it looked like a pretty great deal. While I would never pay full price for any of these games, I’d definitely try out Assassins Creed 4 for free.
Lesson #1: If gamers can learn to exploit game mechanics, they can learn to exploit real life offers.
Sometimes you play a game and you find a way to level up ridiculously quickly or you find a way to easily make a lots of money. Apply this knowledge to the real world and you get some impressive Extreme Couponing thinking. According to a gaming forum and a deal forum I checked up on, people were planning on going to an EB Games to buy a game under $2, trade it in a FutureShop or Best Buy for a new game and either do the following:
- Sell it on Kijiji (basically Canada’s Craigslist) at full price/profit
- EB Games had an offer where you could upgrade any of these three games to next generation (XBox One, PS4) for $10. So you could upgrade for pretty cheap.
- Each PS3 game has an online code to let you upgrade to next-generation for $10 so if you didn’t get a PS4 immediately, you could ensure you’d get a digital PS4 copy of the game whenever you did decide to upgrade.
- Although the limit was 1 game per customer per day, people were planning on bringing their SOs or family members so they could get multiple games.
- FutureShop and Best Buy were also doing a trade 2 for $60 gift card deal. These games were on the eligible trade list. So suppose you bought 6 games for $6 at EB Games. You make the trade for 6 new games. You trade 2 for $60, that’s $180 in gift card return for $6 investment.
- Wal-Mart apparently accepted returns without a receipt so you could theoretically return 6 games for $360.
Lesson #2: When in doubt, trust the hardcore.
Another exploit mentioned by the folks on both forums was to reserve a copy of the game you wanted on Friday. The reservation is good for 24 hours and then you do the trade when you pick it up. At the time, I could’ve made a reservation but by the time I decided to actually go through with it, Future Shop and Best Buy both disabled the option. (The deal initially came from Future Shop but since they are owned by Best Buy Canada, people assumed correctly that the offer would also be valid in Best Buy.) Most stores honored the reservation. The store I lined up at on Saturday were honoring reservations.
Lesson #3: Early is never early enough. (aka If you’re gonna go crazy, commit to it.)
While I technically live in Toronto, I actually live on the outside fringe of the city. I actually have a Future Shop about 10 – 15 minutes drive away and the nearest Best Buy is 5 minutes drive from there. On Saturday, the forums were reporting lines of 200 – 300 people in downtown Toronto where my neck of the suburbs was harder to tell.
Why? Because I decided to go 30 minutes before the store opened. It turns out the store opened early for the trade-ins and was letting small groups of people in. So while I was maybe 30th in line when I got there, I was far from first. In fact, by the time I got to the front of the line at 9:50am, all they had was Call of Duty left.
So I left and did a different gaming errand that was within viewing distance of Best Buy. At the time, the line seemed pretty long, maybe 50 – 60 people. But when I finished my errand at 10am, the line was gone, so I thought maybe I had a chance.
I was so wrong. The line was probably at least 80 people when I joined. The guy in front of me had actually gone to the game section first, grabbed the last physical copy of the Assassins Creed 4 and then went to the back of the line so he was set. After another hour of waiting, all the PS3 versions of Assassins Creed 4 were sold out. I should’ve stayed and gotten the Xbox version then but I think I had tunnel vision but I went home.
I debated whether to go or not on Sunday. I basically left it to my subconsious. It woke me up at 7:30am. My subconscious is a jerk. Even though there was a post of people in line at 7:30am, I still dithered. The Future Shop on Sunday opened at 11am, did I really want to wait three more hours?
No. So I showed up at 9:30am again. I was maybe 50th in line. I was basically where the physical store actually ended. Even though it was chilly and a little damp, the worst part was the wind. I was at a weird angle where the wind would just hit my part of the line really hard. When we moved up 5 feet, it was better because the building actually blocked us.
Someone from the store came by and said they only had 6 copies of PS3 Assassins Creed available. I knew my chances were pretty much toast but I figured I might as well get something since I was doing this. By the time I got to the front doors, someone from the store was counting off how many people would probably get games. It was actually a little frightening. Even then, people weren’t leaving the line.
A different guy from the store mentioned how these lines were even crazier than Boxing Day (12/26) lines. He speculated that the reason the stores were doing this promotion was because they had ordered too many current-generation games and they weren’t selling because people were waiting for next-generation games. And these stores make way more money on the used game market anyway.
I was able to get the 2nd to last copy of Battlefield 4 for Xbox. All PS3 games were gone when I was 2nd in line.
- While there wasn’t as much PS3 stock available to begin with, PS3 games are on high demand to buy/trade on Kijiji.
- FS/BB ordered a ton of Call of Duty: Ghosts. One store apparently traded at least a thousand COD games on Saturday.
- You apparently can shoot down a skyscraper in Battlefield 4. Not easily, but it’s supposedly do-able.
- I should’ve brought an MP3 player in addition to my water bottle and book on Sunday. Since it would rain lightly and sporadically, I didn’t want to bring out my book and I waited 20 minutes before saying out loud, “OH MY GOD I AM SO BORED.” which actually led to me having a conversation with the guy in front of me. Big ups to the guy.
- Big ups to all FS/BB store employees. They got sprung with this late Friday afternoon and did the best they could. My local stores were organized, informative and professional. I may not have gotten what I wanted but it wasn’t a horrible, frustrating experience.
- The used game market is going to be flooded with these games now. Someone’s speculating AC4 is going to drop down to $20 for Christmas and $10 for Boxing Day. The trade value for these games has probably dramatically dropped as well. It’ll be interesting to see whether I can get any value for this game in the future.