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Amazon Deals Another Blow to GameStop (and Best Buy)

Back in March of 2015, I wrote about switching from GameStop to Best Buy for new game purchases, because of Best Buy’s newly-discounted Gamer Rewards program. The big hook for Best Buy was offering a 20% discount on new games, something that GameStop does not do.

A little over a week ago, Amazon gut punched GameStop again (and kicked Best Buy’s legs out from under it) when they announced that Prime Subscribers will now get 20% off of pre-orders and newly-released games to go along with their already free two-day shipping. The term “newly-released” in this case means up to two weeks after the initial release date.

So, how does this stack up to GameStop and Best Buy? Well, as I wrote about before, GameStop still gives you a print magazine subscription for your $15 a year, and Best Buy offers reward certificates that can be used for anything they sell. Both also give you extra value for used game trade-ins.

Looking at Amazon’s trade-in program, it looks like they actually give you slightly more value than GameStop, although GameStop gives more if you are using the credit to buy more games. For example, Amazon will give you $20.54 for Star Wars Battlefront, while GameStop would give you $19.66 cash, or $24.20 if you used it toward another game. Add to that the discount you get on used games, and GameStop can provide more value for those trading in games to buy more games.

But really, the main questions you should be asking yourself are if you buy new games and you are already a Prime Subscriber. Because if the answer to those two questions is yes, this is a no-brainier.

I am a Prime subscriber and for me, this move by Amazon actually hurts Best Buy more. I already had stopped buying new games at GameStop. Now I can get the 20% discount and free two-day shipping on my new games. So, Amazon will become the place for me to buy new, and GameStop will continue to be my used game option.

At some point, I think GameStop is going to have to bite the bullet and offer discounts on new releases. They’ve tried to diversify, getting into retro games and pushing more geek culture merchandise, but I don’t think that will be the solution in the long term.

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Brian’s Best in Games Journalism 2015–GameSpot’s “The Point”

This episode of GameSpot’s “The Point” from July 2015 is a fantastic piece of journalism by Danny O’Dwyer. In it, he explores the systems that hook players into Destiny, a game that many complain about while admitting they sink hundreds of hours into. It’s a very well-done piece, and just one of the many great episodes of the Point that you should check out on GameSpot’s YouTube channel.

It’s also my favorite piece of games journalism from 2015.

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Brian’s Top Three Games of the Year (#3)–UNTIL DAWN

As we wind down 2015 this week, I’ll be posting about my top three games of the year.

It’s been a great year for games, and for horror games in particular, as reflected by my list. I’m a huge horror fan, and there were some great horror entries on all of the major platforms this year. Bloodborne, Dying LightResident Evil: Revelations 2, The Park, Until Dawn, SOMA and Fatal Frame: Maiden of the Black Water all saw their Western releases this year, and three of those titles beat out everything else I played to make my “best of” list.READ MORE

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#PS2PS4: What Games Do You Want?

And we thought backward compatibility wouldn’t be a thing this generation.

For a while the WiiU was the only console this generation that was backward compatible. Both Sony and Microsoft seemed to imply that backward compatibility wasn’t something that was really all that important to gamers, and there were no plans for either the PS4 or the Xbox One to be backward compatible.READ MORE

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Bethesda Games Give Me Wanderlust

I prefer to play games alone.

At first blush, that may not be the best opening line for a post on a site with co-op in its title. But while Co-Op Critics is a place where we celebrate games together, that doesn’t mean we have to always play them together. It’s my need to discuss my gaming experiences with others that drove me to create this site, and one of the reasons for that is many of the games I play are single player experiences. Games that I enjoy playing alone, but then need to process with others.READ MORE

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Why the PS4 Has Become My Go-To Console

Even though I have no time to play them all, for the past two generations I’ve purchased all three major consoles. And like many others, last generation I was primarily an Xbox 360 gamer (though I loved my PS3). But as we are about to enter year three of this generation (four if you count the year lead the WiiU had), there is one console that I spend the majority of my time with–the PlayStation 4.

There are a few reasons for the PS4 becoming my console of choice. There are exclusives like Until Dawn, The Order: 1886 and Bloodborne, and console exclusives like SOMA and the upcoming No Man’s Sky. And there’s the PlayStation Plus service, which has consistently given me hundreds of dollars of games a year for the price of one game.

But the biggest reason I’ve become more of a PlayStation gamer this generation is because of this:

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The ‘Share’ button.

But it’s not just the button, it’s what it represents. Sony had a clear vision when they designed this console, and it’s one they’ve stuck to throughout it’s life so far. Sharing the gaming experience in a variety of ways has been something Sony touted from the get go, and they continue to deliver.

I like to keep things simple. While Nick and I both have capture cards (and Nick uses his for most of his videos), I was psyched when both Microsoft and Sony announced that the new consoles would have built-in streaming capabilities. And in fact, both do have the ability to stream, but in my experience, PlayStation 4 is superior in terms of its flexibility and the user experience.

I can forgive the fact that the Xbox One and it’s ‘snapping’ of the Twitch app is a clunky process. But there are three things that make the PlayStation 4 experience better, in my opinion.

k2-_76254b32-aef9-44f4-abc0-42aa0e92511c.v11. External Mics–If I want to use and external mic to stream with the PS4, I just plug it into the usb slot on the console. That’s it. My Snowball mic works perfectly for the Minecraft series my son and I do. Xbox One still doesn’t have support for external mics, forcing us to use the mic on the Kinect for couch co-op streaming. As you might imagine, the audio quality is less than desired.

2. Party Chat Streaming–On PS4, Sony added the ability to stream party chat a year ago, while we are still waiting for this feature on XBox One.  Destiny allows you to enable the feature in its audio settings, but most games do not. On Xbox One, we’ve been forced to use Skype to record party chat and then edit it into videos later.

3. YouTube Streaming–The latest PS4 firmware update added direct streaming to YouTube to the existing sharing options. This is potentially huge for Co-Op Critics, both because most of our audience is on YouTube instead of Twitch, and because of the newly launched YouTube Gaming app.

Now, I am well aware that using a capture card with either console offers a great deal more customization options, and can provide better quality on the output side. But as I said, I’m a fan of keeping things simple. And the PS4 has made streaming and sharing very simple, just like they said they would when the PS4 was announced.

More, flexibility, more options, and a smoother user experience. For those reasons, the PS4 has become my console of choice so far this generation.

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I Love What I’m Hearing About the Nintendo NX

An article in the Wall Street Journal this week said that dev kits are now being sent out for the NX, Nintendo’s upcoming hybrid platform that is projected to be released by the end of 2016.

It seems that the new NX will have a “mobile unit” that could be used alongside the console or as a portable device. Earlier in 2015, Nintendo filed a patent for a new controller that bore a passing resemblance to both the WiiU GamePad and the PlayStation Vita:

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Now, most of what is out there is rumors at this point, but we know the NX is coming (because Nintendo announced it) and we know it will be a dedicated gaming system with a “brand new concept” (former Nintendo President Satoru Iwata’s words).

So let’s assume that what we’re talking about is a hybrid console that will feature a handheld that can also connect to the home console unit, either as a controller, or as the primary device that is scaled up for the television experience.

In my opinion, this is exactly the direction Nintendo should be going in. They own the handheld market, and they have proven to be able to create amazing experiences for their handheld platforms. Their handhelds have also historically had good third party support, something that their home consoles have not.

I thought Nintendo missed the boat with the WiiU by not allowing the 3DS to function as a controller or game portal. But I am very encouraged to see this is where they appear to be heading.

What’s interesting is that if the patent document is any indication, it looks like the NX controller/handheld is ditching the second screen. That makes sense if it’s being used in conjunction with the TV, but it will be interesting to see how the games function on the handheld alone.

In any case, I am so glad Nintendo is continuing to chart their own path. As we’ve seen with Microsoft, they did not have the fortitude to stick with their original plan for the Xbox One, and it may have cost them this generation. By taking out connect and watering down their online plans, there’s nothing to differentiate them from PlayStation now, especially with the lack of exclusives this generation. If nothing else, Nintendo will continue to make sure their consoles and handhelds are not carbon copies of what everyone else is doing. And I think we need that.

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MGS V: Getting Ready for the Phantom Pain with Ground Zeroes

I picked up MGS V: The Phantom Pain this week, but I’m not ready to dive into it yet. See, I’ve had Ground Zeroes sitting on my PS4 hard drive for months now, and I’ve been meaning to find time to play it. I was going to skip over it entirely until I learned that you can upload your save from Ground Zeroes to Phantom Pain. Some of the POWs and NPCs you rescue/capture in Ground Zeroes can help you at Mother Base in Phantom Pain.READ MORE