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Winter Epic Sale

When we last left our intrepid Steam competitor, Epic was having one of those crazy sales with the $10 coupon added on top. And they had finally added Wishlists! In a gaming storefront! In 2021!

Well, buckle up, buttercup, because Epic is having another seasonal sale with the $10 coupon and now they have… shopping carts! In 2021! Will wonders never cease?

Facetiousness aside, I was actually looking forward to Epic’s sale, for basically the pictured reasons. Let’s go ahead and put it in some bullet points though:

  • Cyberpunk 2077 – $19.99
  • Red Dead Redemption 2 – $19.99
  • Disco Elysium – $7.99
  • Roguebook – $6.24
  • Inscryption – $5.99

I think the bottom three are a lock this time around. Well, Inscryption and Roguebook are both the sort of games I would expect to randomly pop up on Game Pass, so maybe not. Meanwhile, Disco Elysium is a full $12 cheaper during this sale compared to the summer one. As long as I commit to playing it right away, I think I could live with “losing” $8 in that specific scenario with that specific game.

Cyberpunk and Red Dead Redemption 2 are another story. On the one hand, $20 is very reasonable for a AAA title that is unlikely to get bundled/become free. In the case of Cyberpunk, they specifically said “there are no plans” but also hedged their bets for some indeterminable time in the future. RDR2 actually was on the service for consoles specifically, then left after a few months last year. So, unlikely to hit Game Pass again anytime soon.

At the same time… I just don’t know. Both are very large, graphically intensive games. While I am not one of those people scouring eBay for scalped video cards, I am running on some fairly old hardware. I’m currently running a GTX 1060 from four years ago, which isn’t that bad. But the rest of the guts are from 2011. Which… wow, I hadn’t bothered to look that up until just now. I haven’t felt (graphically) deprived in any particular game up to this point, so this isn’t something I should be concerned about. It’s just one of those scenarios where I know these games would be better experiences with better hardware. And I have been keeping an eye on /r/buildapcsales/ whenever a prebuilt comes up – it’s a strange world we live in when prebuilds end up being cheaper than the video cards they contain.

So, basically, I’d like to play those two games, but I’m not in a hurry. Maybe next sale then?

In any case, there you go. It’s probably a bit silly talking about buying new games when I just committed to playing things I already own, but nobody said life made sense. Least of all me.

Proprietary Hardware

This weekend got me thinking about proprietary hardware and how much of a total loss of value it is to consumers.

As I mentioned earlier, I spent most of this weekend moving to a new apartment. While I never double-checked the validity of the claim, the housing company stated that the only internet that could be provided would be from AT&T, e.g. U-Verse. Okay, fine. AT&T ended up mailing me their modem/router combo and was going to add $100 deposit + a monthly lease for equipment, which I attempted to decline (since I already own a modem & router). AT&T mailed one anyway, which I slapped a return sticker on and sent back Friday. When I went to hook up my modem on Sunday, a growing sense of horror enveloped me as I realized that a CAT5 cable would not fit into the installed plug. Uh oh.

Thank god for smartphones, eh?

After several fruitless Google searches for, in retrospect, impossible things like phone jack -> Coaxial cable adapters, I came to understand that AT&T utilizes their own proprietary internet hardware. This was further confirmed at Best Buy (hey, I was desperate) when the DSL modem I was looking at stated that it would work with AT&T DSL but not U-Verse. I ended up going to a AT&T store but they didn’t carry any of the U-Verse equipment with them and would have to order it to be re-shipped. Lesson learned: make sure your shit works before sending anything back.

What this reminded me of though is memory cards.

Any time I kinda sorta maybe get the urge to bite on a PlayStation Vita sale, the reality of proprietary memory cards that damn near cost the same as the system itself always shocks me back to reality. Right now, a 32gb Vita memory card is $69.81 on Amazon. Do you know how much a 32gb MicroSD card is? $20.22. Shit, you can get a 64gb for $38.60. Is there anything extra you get for buying Sony? Nope. It is a total fucking loss for you to purchase a Vita memory card other than the fact that Sony forces you to buy into their bullshit proprietary technology, which is itself just a more-expensive version of ineffectual DRM.

And just let me say how much a regret buying a Google Nexus smartphone these days. At the time, getting an unlocked $250 smartphone was my overriding concern, but the biggest model I bought is clocking in at… 16gb. Of which you can use 12.92gb. And hey, I’m sure it’s just a huge coincidence that the majority of these phone manufacturers don’t have expandable storage options and yet multiple models with differing levels of internal storage. I mean, seriously, how much space/weight/battery juice does a phone actually lose by having the MicroSD slot? Shit, is it too much to ask for a $20.22 32gb MicroSD card to be built into the damn thing? Proprietary hardware strikes again, at zero benefit to the consumer.

I understand the logic, to an extent. Proprietary hardware is sort of an enforced patent, the sort of difference between a brand-name pharmaceutical drug and the later generic version. But in electronics and gaming, we hardly ever get non-proprietary hardware (controllers and Game Genies aside). Talking myself out of a Vita purchase the other day almost resulted in talking myself into a PSP purchase solely on the basis of ROMs, at which point I started to wonder why Nintendo (or anyone, really) never bothered with a handheld that could officially play SNES (etc) games. Or did they and I haven’t noticed? I know about the Wii’s virtual console and Sony’s PS+ deal with some older PSX games, but it almost seems like a no-brainer for some company to swoop in with a fully open-source, Vita-like handheld that can load ROMs and be an otherwise premier ROM target. I mean, it certainly seems like the smartphone market never quite got there all the way.