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Good Guy Best Buy

[Blaugust Day 21]

Just like with Amazon, Best Buy decided to look out for me by dissuading my GTX 970 purchase.

The amusing thing is I finally felt ready to pull the trigger, after all my prior dithering. The final push? Best Buy had the Zotac GTX 970 version up for $329.99 with a price match guarantee… and Amazon had the same exact model for $309.99. Sweet. So I’m going to price match the $309.99 and then whip out my trap card 10% off coupon. I balked previously at graphics cards that barely moved on price, but getting one at $279 is another matter entirely. Plus, the free game code included this time around is Metal Gear Solid V, which is actually something I want to play. So, technically, I’d be getting the video card for less than $250.

When I tried calling Best Buy yesterday, there was simply a recording that stated “due to circumstances beyond our control, we are unable to take calls at this time.” Uhh… okay. So I tried once again tonight. And, as I should have expected, the answer was “No.” Or more specifically, they weren’t going to do both.

Technically, I could still realize some measure of savings by using the 10% coupon: about $13 or so off the Amazon price. But here’s the thing:

Apparently made to order.

Apparently made to order.

There is no in-store pickup options available and the order takes 6-10 days to process. And it apparently takes tiny children an additional two weeks to hand craft the video card before it arrives at my door. Seriously, 25 days from order to arrival? The scenario is especially ridiculous if all I was doing was looking for the price match, considering this is the competition:

Amazon just makes the tiny child pull 16 hour shifts.

Amazon just makes the tiny children pull 16 hour shifts.

That little Prime symbol means it will be in my hands in two days. Two days. I could order a video card drunk and have it arrive while I’m still hung-over, depending on the bender I went on.¹ The days in which you could just price match Amazon are ancient history, myths spun in the abandoned break rooms of Circuit City and Blockbuster. Shipping and handling? GTFO. It’s 2015, people – if the UPS guy isn’t ringing my doorbell before I even click the purchase confirmation button, you’re doing it wrong.

Jokes aside, the sad thing is that Best Buy might end up having the last laugh on this one. The Amazon listing doesn’t mention the Metal Gear Solid V promotion, and the Nvidia fine print mentions that it’s only applicable through authorized sellers. Waiting an extra three weeks to save $13 is one thing, but waiting extra for ~$63 is another. Plus, it’s not exactly as though I need the card right now anyway. Hmm.

So… yeah. There’s another glimpse into the madness that is my method.

¹ Always express your crippling alcoholism² responsibly.

² This is a joke.

Good Guy Amazon

[Blaugust Day 18]

Amazon’s Appstore is atrocious garbage. And it thereby saved me from giving them (and Blizzard) another $50 for Hearthstone.

See, there is a deal going on right now for Hearthstone’s upcoming expansion: 50 packs for $50. The current store offering is 40 packs for $50 or 60 packs for $70. Basically, with this deal you can get packs at $1 apiece instead of $1.17. Alternatively, if you download Hearthstone from the Amazon Appstore, then you can pay for packs and such using Amazon Coins. Which at one point were on sale for 5000 for $40 (20% off). And then if you waited until Amazon ran their other Coin promotion, you could get 10% Coins back, which then could be used to immediately purchase additional packs. The “example” Amazon uses is how $90 buys 87 packs versus 70 packs from Google Play.

Let’s take a moment to reflect on the state of our lives when we start considering how good a deal it is to spend $90 on a technically “F2P” game.

The bottom line is that Hearthstone will not install from the Amazon Appstore for me, and I need that version because you can’t spend Amazon Coins for packs otherwise. It will download the 660 MB file, start the install, and then hang (progress bar just cycles) until the install fails. I’ve followed all the incredibly helpful troubleshooting like “clear the cache” and “restart the phone,” up to and including both emailing Amazon for assistance and chatting with their representatives in Chhindwara or wherever, to no avail. I deleted my Google Play version of Hearthstone already – which, incidentally, works – so I know there is no conflict there. Hearthstone is not labeled as an option on the Amazon Appstore on my tablet. I even tried one of those Android emulators a few weeks ago when they were offering free packs to Samsung owners, but apparently my PC is one of those which needs a BIOS edit to mimic some setting or whatever.

So… fuck it. Nobody gets my money.

…in this particular instance. I’ll still buy Hearthstone Adventures as they release, and if Amazon delivered groceries to my area I might not ever step outside. But when it comes to this specific scenario, I… bite my thumb at you, Amazon Appstore.


About two weeks ago, I came to the conclusion that my 32″ TV just isn’t cutting it anymore. That almost seems laughably small these days, but it worked just fine back when I had it in the corner of the bedroom. Now that it’s ten feet away from the couch in the living room? Not so much.

I have no need for for 50″+ monstrosity, but some sort of upgrade seems appropriate. After poking around and seeing as how I could conceivably get a 42″ for $280, I started wondering “isn’t that about the price for a projector?” Yes, yes it is.

And thus began a descent into the madness that is projector shopping.

The basic gist is that you have to be absurdly careful. If you go to Amazon and just type in “projector 1080p,” all the projectors will show up. That is because A) they’re liars and thieves, and B) Amazon and most other sites are complicit with the deception. See, they’re “compatible” with 1080p signal, even though the projector will downscale your Blu-ray to its native 640×480 resolution. If you’re reading this on a PC, right-click on the Desktop and go to your resolution options and switch to… hell, my monitor doesn’t even go below 800×600. Nevermind. Point being, not only is that a resolution from a decade ago, it will also letterbox pretty much any media you would ever play through it.

The other end of the spectrum is legit, native 1080p projectors. Which will cost about $600+ on sale.

I’ll be honest here: I have spent entirely too much time looking at projectors in lieu of, you know, playing videogames. So here is what I’ve got, data-wise:

Projector Price Resolution Bulb life Lumen Zoom Throw Ratio
Vivitek XGA $299 1024×768 4500 3000 ? 1.6 – 1.92
VVME v61 $289 1280×720 20,000 2800 No ?
FAVI RioHD-LED-4T $279 1280×800 20,000 500 ANSI ? 1.6
iDGLAX DG-757 $234 1280×768 20,000 2800 ? ?
EUG 800 $299 1280×720 50,000 2600 1.2 ?

The first thing to note is that top item: it is an example of a tricky Best Buy “deal.” Marked down by nearly $250, everything looks good… up until you realize that it is not native 720p. You might also note how all the other projectors I have listed there have LED bulbs which should last well past 6 years, assuming you run the thing 8 hours every day all year around.

Still, everything feels like a minefield. How loud are the fans? How vibrant are the colors? Why doesn’t anyone list their goddamn throw ratios or the fact they have (or likely don’t have) zoom features? How does 500 ANSI lumen stack up to 2800 bullshit lumen? It’s a mess. How am I supposed to min-max this?!

So once again, dear reader(s), I am open to advice. I’m working with a 12-foot space that’s extremely light-controlled. I’m really just looking for something I can stick on a shelf behind the couch and hit that ~81″ of bare wall next to my computer. If I move my furniture around, I could probably get a little bigger projector space going. I’d love to hit the $300 price-point; if it’s anywhere close to $400, it better be far and away better than the ones I’m already looking at. Not looking to become a home theater enthusiast, I just want a bigger screen.

You Win, Amazon Add-On Program

Back in the day, one of the big draws of Amazon for me was the free shipping on any orders over $35. If you waited long enough to accumulate a decent enough shopping cart, it worked out rather well as you were spending more than $35 anyway. Other times, I would really want that $25 item right now, but was faced with the prospect of eating shipping costs and “getting nothing” versus just finding ten more bucks worth of whatever. Of course, that is kinda Amazon’s entire plan, right? Once Prime came out, my worries disappeared and these days I routinely pick up $15 items whenever I feel like it rather than saving for one big purchase.

Enter Amazon’s Add-On items. If you want a thing of $1.59 Scotch Tape, Amazon won’t ship it to you at all unless you pair it with $25 worth of other items.

So last week, I found some random item I wanted to get for someone. “$2 add-on, huh? Okay.” I started looking around Amazon for other things that perhaps I had been putting off purchasing. So I picked up a 3-meter HDMI cable for $7.50. And… err… let me look around some more. Oh, here’s an anti-static wrist strap for $6. You know, for that distant future in which I install another SSD or upgrade my video card or whatever. Then it was one of those shake bottles with the metal ball inside, for protein shakes, for $8. I was close now! And you know, I always wanted another end-table and here’s this one for $19. Done!

Oh. The end-table isn’t shipped from Amazon, so it doesn’t actually count towards the limit.

At this point, I’ve been on Amazon for almost an hour and decided to basically say “Fuck it” and bought what I want. Which was this:



So, you win this round, Amazon. And, I suppose, I win a little too.

Interesting Move, CCP

Way back in February, I was quoting Bullshitter in Chief, David Reid, on how Dust 514 could make EVE “the biggest game in the world at the end of 2012.” There are only 33 days left in the year for this to be theoretically possible, but nevermind.

At that time (and still currently), my questions focused on the “what the hell were they thinking with a PS3 exclusive” angle. The related followup question was how CCP planned to muscle into an already crowded FPS marketplace with a completely unknown IP (the FPS portion anyway); free-to-play will only get you so far, if no one knows about you.

Well, with all the game console browsing I have been doing lately, I have a partial answer:

Product Features

Platform: PLAYSTATION 3 | Edition: 250GB Uncharted 3: Game of the Year
  • The new 250GB PlayStation 3 System, with a built in Blu-Ray player, can hold over to 1800 Games, 140 Movies, 99,000 Songs, and 40,000 photos
  • The PlayStation 3 system includes a free PlayStation Network membership for online gaming, streaming movies and music, and access to the PlayStation Store
  • UNCHARTED 3: Drake’s Deception Game of the Year Edition showcases Nathan Drake’s journey through new challenges and includes over $45 of Bonus Content
  • With a 30-day trial of PlayStation Plus, access your instant game collection and download from a free library of hit games. Save over $70 with the PlayStation 3/Uncharted 3 Game of the Year bundle
  • Dust 514, a free to play game available exclusively on the PlayStation Network, thrusts you into the explosive ground conflict of the EVE universe
  • Included with this PlayStation 3 bundle is a promotional code for your personal DUST 514 ordinance pack containing a 7-day active skill booster, a permanent Armored Personnel Carrier, an assortment of digital items, and 2,000 Aurum to spend on in-game gear, weapons and equipment. Over $30 in total value.

That’s right, somehow CCP got Sony to include $30 worth of item shop goods in the, er… PS3 Uncharted 3: Game of the Year bundle. Because nothing says sci-fi F2P FPS like a 3rd-person action game.

It is an interesting move, and certainly one that will garner some extra attention from whomever takes advantage of that bundle. I can’t help but get confused though, when it appears that the Dust 514 mention is missing from the other bundles like the 500gb Assassin’s Creed 3 and even the 320gb Uncharted 3 bundle. Did CCP only pay enough to get on the 250gb bundle instead of the 320gb? Surely there is no hardware difference, so did they just change their minds? Did Netflix out-bid them?

Regardless, I find myself even more intrigued by this unfolding drama than I was before. And, hey, now that I own a PS3 myself, I might actually go full gonzo and try it at some point.

Memorial Day Sales

In case you haven’t seen them yet, there are a bunch of sales going on this weekend.

There is a fledgling new indie game marketplace called Because We May. Until June 1st, all of the games up there are 50% off or better. Those include:

  • World of Goo ($2.99)
  • Osmos ($2.99)
  • The Binding of Isaac ($1.99)
  • Psychonauts ($4.99)
  • Q.U.B.E. ($7.49)
  • Cthulhu Saves the World & Breath of Death VII Double Pack ($1.49)
  • Dungeon Defenders ($7.49)

EA finally got (one of) the memo(s) about why Origin is terrible compared to Steam, and now all (four) Origin games are 50% off. This includes:

  • Mass Effect 3 ($29.99 but see below)
  • Battlefield 3 ($29.99)
  • BF3: Back to Karkand DLC ($7.49)

Amazon is also a place where sales occur:

  • Syndicate ($17.99)
  • Total War: Shogun 2 ($7.49)
  • Mass Effect 3 ($25.99)
  • Saints Row the Third ($16.49)
  • Mirror’s Edge ($4.99)

Finally, Steam appears to be selling EVE for $6.80 again. Still not pulling the trigger just yet.

The Weaponization of QQ

The end goal of all QQ is for a game (etc) you enjoy to be fixed or changed for the better.

If you look at something like the WoW forums, or any game forums really, you will see dozens and dozens of impassioned arguments as to why the author is quitting. I seem to recall there being an actual study that demonstrated that the vocal complainers spend the most money on a given game, far in excess of the average; considering I cannot find said link though, let us assume the opposite for now. Why tell tens of thousands of anonymous readers that you are unhappy with the game? Why not just shrug and uninstall?

The ideal scenario in an “I quit” post is for you to continue playing a game you enjoy (in most respects), and for other people to quit. It is like “voting with your wallet,” using other peoples’ wallets. As strategies go, it never seemed too effective, although obviously it is effective enough that moderators tend to shut it down pretty quickly. Besides, the only audience you can reach by posting on forums are the people who read the forums, so any damage is pretty limited.

Oh, the times they are a-changin’.

Metacritic, Comparison

Welcome to the future.

I do not know whether Modern Warfare 3 was the first Metacritic salvo in a post-Weaponized QQ landscape, but it has become increasingly obvious that it will not stand (or fall) alone.

Now, obviously, there is nothing inherently wrong with a game receiving universal critical acclaim by professional gaming journalists, while being panned by uncouth Philistines. Or vice versa! But if you dig a little deeper, an incredibly large portion of the negative reviews for those three games (and who knows how many others) stem from issues not necessarily connected to the game itself – complaints about the state of the game industry, or the existence of Day 1 DLC/multiplayer, or people who wanted a sandbox instead of a themepark.

Maybe those things are connected to the game. Maybe you do enjoy MW3 less knowing how much was copy-pasted from MW2. Maybe people have wildly differing views on what constitutes a “review.”

What I do know is that, going forward, we can expect more of this:

Head to the bunker.

That right there is the present scoring of Mass Effect 3 for the Xbox 360 on Amazon. The PC version has less reviews, but it too is 2/5 stars.

What ever you think about the ending, and how much ever it may have soured the entire experience in your mind… is the game really 2/5? Were all of the emotions you felt during the journey not worth it? I am not entirely sure I want a philosophical debate about the nature of objective experience (or the nonexistence thereof); I just want everyone to know that this is our future.

Believe me, I am the first in line to say that customers have the right to question the creative decisions of designers/writers. However… is this what we want? Do we want developers worried that any reasonably controversial aspect of their work will lead to highly visible backlash? Does that actually encourage higher quality games, or simply encourage safer games? Or are the collateral effects of public catharsis simply their problem?

I used to believe the latter. Now… I’m not so sure.


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