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Sometimes, I Surprise Myself

Anyone who is a close friend of mine is already aware that I have taken a challenge upon myself to save as much money as possible on my gaming habit in 2012. There are lots of obvious tactics involved to the overall strategy, many of them like never purchasing anything at full price, looking for sales, taking advantage of sites like Half.com for pre-owned purchases, making liberal use of Steams ample sales, avoiding Gamestop at all costs, are all pretty much common knowledge to most gamers who give a damn about how much of their hard earned money they expend on gaming. However, some less commonly known tactics towards this goal involve a bit more imagination, a little extra leg work, and sometimes a little help from your friends. This particular tale, is one in which I purchased/pre-ordered over $130 worth of brand new games, for less than $16 out of pocket. I have finagled some really good deals over the past six months, but I have to admit that this one, this one took the cake.

What really surprises me about this deal, was not so much as how much money I saved, which in and of itself is pretty awesome, but the fact that I put the entire deal together in my head, in less time than it took to look up and dial the phone number of a friend whom I was including on the deal. I really get the feeling, that when you live for so long hustling deals like this, and looking for savings at every turn, it gets to the point where you just start seeing opportunities to save and maximize money everywhere. Opportunities that anyone else would just pass up simply because they could not see beyond the surface, just start lining up like headshots in Counter-Strike.

Okay, so this is how the deal went down. There’s this game service called OnLive, and unknown to most gamers, OnLive occasionally puts on some pretty awesome sales, much in the same vein as Steam; deep discounts and everything. And mind you, OnLive has been pretty much dead for new releases for most of 2012, something to do with some behind the scenes restructuring to make porting games easier for developers/publishers. So dead even, that I had not spent a single dime on the service for at least six months. But over the past couple of days, OnLive just kind of roared back to life with a couple of deals that in and of themselves, are already hard to resist, as they offered some pretty good savings.

But before I get too far into that, I have to explain the PlayPack to you, as understanding OnLive’s PlayPack is crucial in understanding how this deal gelled together. OnLive has an ongoing promotion call the PlayPack Bundle. The PlayPack works pretty much exactly like Netflix’s Instant Stream. You pay a flat fee every month, and you can play to your heart’s content of any game in the PlayPack library (see video). Currently the PlayPack library has over 250 games in it, and OnLive adds more games to the PlayPack every week. But that is not the awesome part about the PlayPack, and definitely not where the PlayPack plays into this deal I executed. What makes the PlayPack so awesome, is that on top of all-you-can-eat gaming for only $9.99/month, all subscribers to the PlayPack receive an automatic 30% discount off all purchases of software and hardware from OnLive. And it is that extra 30% discount, that is going to be key taking this deal from being so-so, to being amazing enough to purchase $130 worth of games for a measly $15.96.

With that understanding out of the way, this is what went down. On Tuesday, the Civilization V expansion pak, Gods & Kings saw release to PC in North America. And with no previous warnings, pre-orders or anything, out of the blue OnLive released both Civ V and Gods & Kings day and date with the rest of the industry. But being OnLive, there was no way they were launching a game that important without piggybacking some sort of promotion on top of it. And sure enough, until June 26th, if you purchase the Gods & Kings expansion (a $30 value), OnLive will give you copy of Civilization V (also a $30 value) at absolute no extra charge – FREE. Two days later on Thursday (just yesterday), OnLive unveiled a second deal – a pre-order promo for THQ and Vigil Games’ upcoming action-RPG, Darksiders II. As part of this promotion, anyone pre-ordering Darksiders II not only gets an automatic upgrade to the Collectors’ Edition of the game, but also gets a copy of Argul’s Tomb, the first DLC expansion to the game. And if that were not enough, pre-orders made before June 28th, got coupon code to order the OnLive MicroConsole (a $100 value) free of charge.

Now that you can see all of the pieces of the puzzle I had to work with, here is what I did. I already have an OnLive MicroConsole, so I did not need a second one. However, I do have one friend who wanted one, did not wish to pay the full price for it, and who is also not a fan of the Darksiders series. So I called my friend up, and as the phone was ringing, worked the entire deal out to the penny, in my head. I told my friend that I was about to come into a second OnLive MicroConsole, and that I would sell it to him at 50% off the retail price, so long as he was willing to also cover the $10 for 2nd day shipping on the system. He agreed before I could get it all out, so done.

Taking his $60 infusion, I proceeded to purchase OnLive’s PlayPack bundle for the next 30 days. If you have played all the games that are in the PlayPack that you wanted to play, then it’s not really worth subscribing to the PlayPack unless you are looking to get a discount on a new purchase, or something from OnLive. And even then, at a 30% discount, you wind up almost paying as much for the PlayPack plus your new purchase, as you would have just getting the new purchase on it’s own with no PlayPack. However, if you have more than one new purchase to make, that 30% discount from the PlayPack starts adding up fast, and becomes a real winning hand. And here I was sitting there, with two purchases to make – perfect! So I paid the $9.99 for a month of the PlayPack, and was left with $50.01 of the money I had gotten from my buddy.

From there it was on to securing that OnLive console; you know the one that I did not yet own, but had already sold to my friend. So I headed over to the Darksiders II pre-order page, and low and behold, thanks to the magic of the PlayPack bundle, the price for the entire Darksiders II pre-order promo had been marked down to a mere $34.99. That includes the game, the upgrade to the Collectors’ Edition, the DLC, and the MicroConsole for only $34.99, leaving me with $15.02 of the money I got earlier from my friend.

After securing that, I checked my email for the free OnLive console discount code, and proceeded to use it to purchase the OnLive MicroConsole, only paying the $9.99 for the 2nd day shipping, after which I still had an additional $5.03 leftover to spend.

So it was off to go after the Sid Meier’s gift to all mankind. So I headed over to the Civilization V: Gods & Kings promo page, where sure enough that PlayPack had reduced the price down to only for a measly $20.99 – that’s both Civ V, and Civ V: Gods & Kings combined. If you are keeping track of the math, then you know that I only have $5.03 left to spend, which means that I would have to add in an additional $15.96 of my own money. And there you have it, with a little finagling, and little wheeling and dealing, I walked away with Civilization V, Civilization V: Gods & Kings, Darksiders II Collectors’ Edition, and Darksiders II: Argul’s Tomb, over $130 worth of games if I purchased via my normal avenues, and only paid less than $16 out of my own pocket. Put another way, I saved 88% off the retail price for one of the best strategy games of all time, a game (expansion pak) that just came out this week, a game that is not due to release until later this summer, and the very first expansion DLC for that. Not a bad haul if I say so myself. And what really shocks me, is that it took me less time to figure out and orchestrate the deal, than it took me to write the first paragraph of today’s post. Now if only I could hustle every new release game that I purchased and get similar savings.


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