‘Deals’ in ‘Black Friday Deals’ often misleading

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The flow of traffic to the mall hasn’t ebbed, despite it being past 3 o’clock in the morning. At Target, shoppers move about the store wide awake as they look for discounted items to fill their carts.

Adam Schoelz

The flow of traffic to the mall hasn’t ebbed, despite it being past 3 o’clock in the morning. At Target, shoppers move about the store wide awake as they look for discounted items to fill their carts.
Black Friday. The most American day other than the 4th of July, a traditional national holiday celebrating the comforting opiate of consumerism. One day a year, people abandon their bonds to their brothers in favor of incredibly low prices offered for items that will probably end up as gifts to their fellow man. Since everyone’s pretty much collectively agreed that one day of Lord-of-the-Flies-style shopper-to-shopper combat is acceptable, Black Friday is an important day and one where a small mistake — chasing the wrong deal — can cost you numerous other deals offered other places.

Luckily, I’m here to help  cut through the excess packaging and come up with the gold. Why help you if I can find such deals, you ask? Well, generally, I shop online.

So here’s some Black Friday ‘deals’ to avoid:
Anywhere, 4GB Xbox/Kinect Bundle, $199.99

I don’t care if it comes with Kinect, you’re shooting yourself in the foot by buying a console with that little memory. The world is becoming increasingly downloadable — your iPad doesn’t have a disk drive, and nearly all games on PCs are distributed digitally. So to say, ‘Nah, we’ll do with about a DVD’s worth of memory’ in this day and age is insanity.

Sure, it comes with Kinect. Name one must-have game other than Dance Central that forces you to use the Kinect. There really aren’t any compelling ones. On the other hand, games like Halo 4, which is probably the most compelling reason to buy an Xbox at this point, require an 8 gigabyte install to play multiplayer, which is about 75 percent of the game. You could use a USB to get an additional 32 gigabytes, but game saves and system updates are going to fill that up quick, and that’s added cost. It’s more than worth it to drop the extra 50 dollars for no Kinect and 250 gigabytes. Your children will thank you.
However, the $199.00 Xbox Holiday Bundle that comes with Forza Motorsport 3 and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim at WalMart? That’s a 250GB console and two awesome games, so go for it. Might be a bit of a rush though.
All stores, video games, various prices

Along the same lines, I’m not sure how I feel about game deals. Games are often overpriced if you’re buying a physical copy, and a lot of games aren’t worth the $20 dollar discount price in the first place. So many games these days are all about online multiplayer. Modern Warfare 3 (if that’s your thing) for 25 bucks might be cheap, but once you finish that 5 hour campaign, are you going to have anything to do? Borderlands 2 is totally worth 60 dollars. Medal of Honor: Warfighter – not worth $10 and it’s priced at $35.

Games are just too objective to really figure out if you’re getting a good deal unless the game is incredibly cheap — and this is where Steam sales come into play.

On a PC, if you can run games, you should. Valve’s digital distribution platform, Steam, runs bi- or tri- annual sales that kill everything else out there. There’s even a sale going on right now. Want every game Bethesda’s ever made for a hundred bucks? Done. Want Fallout New Vegas Ultimate Edition for 5 bucks? Over and done with. Want any game that’s come out in the last five years for drastically reduced prices? Donetastic. In fact, there’s probably going to be one this Christmas. The only problem is you need a gaming rig for some of the newer titles, but believe me —

IT’S WORTH IT.
Target, Party Games,  $18.00:
There is a simple question relating to the purchasing of games, specifically party games: Why buy them from Target when you could get better games at roughly equivalent prices from local businesses?
Let’s be honest: there’s only three games people are consistently going to want to play, and that’s Risk, Clue and Apples to Apples. Once you’ve got those three covered, might as well branch out into niche board games you may not have heard of before and may not be available at places like Target.
Here’s why:
When video games became popular, a lot of people said “good-bye” to board games and plenty thought time for the industry was up. It was not. Board games have a uniquely communal quality video games do not, and there are waaaay more unique board games. A board game can’t stand on it’s arcadey quickness; it has to have a genuinely interesting concept and gameplay if it’s going to succeed in today’s world.
Want to play a good game? I’ll give you three: Settlers of Catan, Munchkin and Risk: Legacy. They might be a bit more costly but they’re way more fun to play than Party Game X, especially with close friends or family.
Where to find these games around town? Generally, selections at the big box stores are somewhat limited, though I’m not entirely sure, but I can tell you that Magelings Games is a local store that carries all of these games, and Target probably has Risk: Legacy. In addition, if you’re looking to get into more serious tabletop fare, Valhalla’s Gate and Magelings are the way to go. Plus, they’re both local businesses.
Walmart, Beats Headphones, $179.95:
I’ll admit, this is more a problem with the Beats brand itself than with the price, but honestly, it doesn’t seem like much of a selling point to cut $20 dollars from a $200 dollar purchase and then push it as the next big deal. I think Best Buy’s running a similar promotion — save 10% on Beats — but I think your time would be better spent chasing better deals. Beats can wait.
As well they should. Even at the discounted price, with Beats you’re paying one heck of a premium for a brand name. More than Apple, really, as at least with Apple the product delivers. Beats are supposed to be the bass-heavy music thumping answer to lesser mid- and high- emphasizing headphones, but there are already bass-heavy headphones on the market, and most of them are better. The Sony XB series, for example, is well known for having way too much bass. Or buy a set of Audio-Technica ATH-M50s, widely considered to be some of the best headphones around for a pretty decent price — $200 dollars on the absolute upper level, which is easily on par with Beats.

Finally, please buy an awesome TV. But don’t buy HDMI cables to go with it from the store, they’re horribly overpriced. All HDMI cables are equal in quality, that’s the point of the format — it’s a digital signal. Please, instead, buy them from here.

By Adam Schoelz