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Post-Break

Cyber Monday now behind us, it is time to take stock.

First, I did not buy a PS4. The loss of the +$50 Gamestop/+$60 Kohls gift cards was simply too great, psychologically. Well, that, plus I could not find a normal $200 PS4 deal to save my life. There was a slight chance of some late shenanigans involving Office Depot selling $100 Gamestop gift cards for $80, but why go through all that trouble – especially having to go outside – if none of the $200 deals are around? Having said that, apparently Gamestop sells Amazon gift cards, so one could imagine someone going through the hassle of stopping by multiple stores in order to achieve a 20% discount at an online retailer.

Second, I have been playing No Man’s Sky and it has consumed my life. I’m 30 hours deep already.

Third, I did end up buying a phone. Specifically, the Moto G5 Plus from Amazon. I waffled on the Honor 6X because ~$150 seemed like a lot for +1GB RAM and +16GB space over my current 5X. Well, the G5+ comes with 64GB internal memory and 4GB RAM straight up. Yes please. I played the holiday pricing game a bit too close though, and missed the $180 deal for a new phone, so I settled for an Amazon Warehouse resell for like $160. There aren’t supposed to be any scratches on the screen itself, but you never know until it shows up.

Finally, I took all this week off. No particular reason, other than I had to use time lest I lose it. My original plan (beyond normal IRL errands) was to give FF14 it’s one last huzzah before they take another $15 from me. While it’s still possible, No Man’s Sky makes it unlikely. We’ll just have to see how the rest of the week goes.

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Wishlist

Black Friday and the frenzied consumerism of the holidays is close upon us. It’s probably a bit silly to be thinking about buying more things considering I have more Steam games to last two lifetimes, but… Capitalism, ho! Here’s what I will be keeping my eye out for:

  • Playstation 4 ($199 + $60 Kohls Cash)
    • Final Fantasy XV
    • Horizon Zero Dawn
    • The Last Guardian
  • Huawei Honor 6X Phone (< $150)
  • Steam Games
    • Far Cry 4
    • Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
    • Divinity: Original Sin 2
    • Oxygen Not Included
    • NeiR: Automata
    • Dead Cells
    • Salt & Sanctuary
    • No Man’s Sky
  • MMOs
    • GW2: Heart of Thorns & Path of Flame

The PS4 purchase is probably the most excessive of the bunch, considering how infrequently I have used the PS3 since purchasing it five years ago. Of course, I didn’t really have a good setup at the time – projectors are cool, but sitting down and pressing a button is easier – and things have changed since then. There is a certain symmetry in how I basically bought the PS3 for The Last of Us, and The Last of Us 2 is one of the driving factors for a PS4 purchase (albeit a few years from now). If/When I end up getting Destiny 2, it will be on PC though.

Phone-wise, I’m in the stereotypical “my phone works, but there’s a better one out there” pinch. My SO’s phone died a couple months ago, so I of course created a Google doc comparing all the different phones available to map out the best bang for the buck. That’s when I realized the upgrade potential between my 5X and the 6X: +600MHz processor, +1GB RAM, +16GB storage, and +340mAh battery. Is that worth $180? Ehh. Is it worth $150 or less? That’s much closer, especially considering how much gaming I do on my phone.

The Steam list is a bit eclectic, but they are all games that weren’t on sale, not on sale far enough, and/or not out of Early Access yet. No Man’s Sky is a bit odd on there considering how much negative press it has received over the last year, but the last sale had it at $24. If it hits $15, I feel like it’d be an easy decision for a kinda-sorta temporary Minecraft experience. I have certainly made worse purchasing decisions.

Finally, the MMO section is just GW2. There have been a few Heart of Thorns sales for $15 that I have missed, but I feel like we might see a combo deal better than the original $50 set. I’m sure there will be yet another sale for the FFXIV expansion too, although every day I become less and less interested in the supposed great plot in the game. If your call to fame is a great story, but the only way to get to said story is to spam dungeons… yeah. No thanks.

The Sorta Haul

Is it a haul if it’s only three things?

  • GTA5 w/ 500k online cash = $26.99
  • FFXIII + FFXIII-2 = $9.17 (@NewEgg)
  • Motorola Moto G 2nd Gen smartphone = $99 (@Amazon)

I’m punting on the $19.99 Dying Light because I know that there is a substantial DLC coming early next year (so substantial they’re raising the Season Pass price), which means I should either be buying the game + Season Pass now, or waiting for the GOTY edition to include all the DLC at some indeterminate future time. And even if I did the former, it means not playing the game right away, as I’d want a smoother segue into the DLC rather than an awkward, months-long gap.

Also punted on Far Cry 4, mostly because I’m miffed that the $15 deal was apparently a pricing error. The “gold” edition is still around for $22.50, but nothing I have read really indicates that the DLC is worth $7.50.

Actually, everything seems pretty silly having just purchased GTA 5. Not only from a game-time perspective, but the 60gb installation is forcing me to look at all the other games I currently have installed on my SSD but never booted up once. Shit, I technically have both FF14 and Elder Scrolls Online installed. Or I could delete Wasteland 2 and Total War: Shogun 2, and maybe actually get around to finishing Pillars of Eternity; that adds up to around 60gb. Hmm.

As far as the smartphone goes, that was strategic impulse buy. I was debating making any decision for a while, and had basically came to the conclusion that I could wait it out. Then my parents were late to Thanksgiving dinner because they got lost due to their TomTom GPS not having been updated in 10 years. It seems rather absurd that in 2015 you have to pay $50 for map updates when I could pull up detailed satellite images (and Street View!) like a goddamn NSA agent from any smartphone. Indeed, they only purchased flip-phones about two years ago, and never set up texting either.

So… yeah. The idea with the Moto G is that I’ll test it out, see if I like it compared to the Nexus 4, then gift whatever one I don’t like to them. Worst-case scenario: I bought them a $99 smartphone for Christmas. Or, I suppose, they get a Nexus 4 that randomly shuts off every few weeks. I’m not even convinced their phone plan would get that much more expensive.

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.