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Buying a Videogame Console on Black Friday? Here’s What You Need to Know.

consoles

Love it or hate it, Black Friday is effectively a “real” holiday in America these days. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the busiest shopping day of the holiday season, but it’s when many major retail stores offer their best discounts to the customers who are insane passionate enough to show up.

This year, there’s a glut of gaming stuff to buy. And the confusion gets even worse for deal-minded shoppers who don’t know what, exactly, the gamer in the family wants. Here, then, is a buyer’s guide for Black Friday, whether you’re buying for yourself or for someone else.

Nintendo

What’s the difference?
Nintendo’s naming conventions make this very tricky …

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The Wii is the console Nintendo began selling in 2006, and currently comes in black. MSRP: $129.99, more for versions with bundled games.

Game compatibility
Games made for the Wii generally have white labels at the top, while games for Wii U have blue labels. The Wii U is “backward compatible,” meaning it plays Wii discs, but the Wii is not “forward compatible.” That is, it can’t play Wii U discs.

Meanwhile, any game made for the Nintendo DS line will work on the 2DS, 3DS and 3DS XL. The 2DS even plays 3DS-advertised games, but without the optional 3D. However, GameStop is also advertising Black Friday deals on used/refurbished handhelds from the previous generation, the DSi and DSi XL; these will not play 3DS/2DS games.

Games
New exclusives for the Wii U this season include Super Mario 3D World, Wii Fit U and Sonic Lost World. New exclusives for the DS family include Pokemon X and Y and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds.

Deals

  • Wii: $39.99 for a refurbished unit ($49.99 if including remote), at GameStop
  • Wii U: $259.99 bundled with Skylanders: Swap Force, at Toys “R” Us; $299.99 bundled with Skylanders: Swap Force and a Skylanders backpack, at GameStop
  • 3DS: $149.99, at Toys “R” Us, or $169.99 at multiple retailers for a special blue edition bundled with Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon
  • 3DS XL: $149.99, at Target; $149.99 on Thursday, at Kmart
  • 2DS: $99, at Walmart; $119.99 on Friday, at Kmart
  • DSi: $69.99 for pre-owned unit, at GameStop (see game compatibility, above)
  • DSi XL: $79.99 for pre-owned unit, at GameStop (see game compatibility, above)
  • Accessories: $29.99 for Wii U Pro Controllers, $9.99 for pre-owned Wiimotes, and $14.99 for pre-owned Wii Balance Boards (for Wii Fit and Wii Fit U), all at GameStop

Sony

What’s the difference?
This one’s a bit easier to get …

1 of 8  Back  Next

The PlayStation 3, or PS3, is Sony’s older console but still supports many new games released this season. MSRP: $200-300 depending on memory and bundled games.

Game compatibility
PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 games are not cross-platform compatible, meaning that a game made for either console will not work on the other. However, some older PlayStation titles are available to download from Sony’s online games store, and many publishers have released new games for both consoles. Sony offers an annual paid subscription, called PlayStation Plus, which gives access to features like online multiplayer and also includes a rotating catalog of free older games every month.

Games
PlayStation 4 exclusives available to buy now include Killzone: Shadow Fall, Knack and a handful of digital download titles like Resogun, Flower and Sound Shapes. One of the PlayStation 3′s big exclusives this year, The Last of Us, was released back in June, while the other, Gran Turismo 6, won’t be available until next month.

Deals

  • PlayStation 3: $187.77 for the 250 gigabyte version bundled with The Last of Us and Batman: Arkham Origins, at Fry’s; $199.00 for 250GB version bundled with The Last of Us and Batman: Arkham Origins, at Target; $199.98 for 250GB version bundled with The Last Of Us and Batman: Arkham Origins, at Sam’s Club; $199 bundled with The Last of Us, or $149 solo at Walmart; $199.99 for 250GB version bundled with LittleBigPlanet Karting, Lego Harry Potter Years 5-7, and Lego Batman 2, at GameStop; $199.99 for 12GB version bundled with camera, PS Move controller and Sports Champions 2, at RadioShack; $249.99 for 250GB blue console, no bundled games, at GameStop
  • PlayStation 4: Recently launched, so no special deals advertised below $399 MSRP
  • PlayStation Vita: $199.99 for Wi-Fi 3G version bundled with The Walking Dead, at GameStop
  • Accessories: $14.99 for pre-owned PS Move, at GameStop; $29.99 for one-year subscription to PlayStation Plus, at GameStop; $34.99 for DualShock 3 (PS3 controller), at Best Buy; $39.00 for DualShock 3, at Target; $39.99 for DualShock 3, at RadioShack, Toys “R” Us and GameStop

Microsoft

What’s the difference?
Easier still, since we only have two consoles to consider …

1 of 4  Back  Next

Microsoft’s last-gen console, the Xbox 360, comes in 4GB or 250GB versions and (like the PS3) still supports many games released this season. MSRP: $200-300, depending on bundles

Game compatibility
Like the PlayStation family, the Xbox 360 and Xbox One are not cross-compatible. It is possible, though not officially endorsed by Microsoft, to connect a 360 to the One’s HDMI “in” port and run 360 games and media apps from within the One. This runaround will add latency between the controller and the TV, since the HDMI hookup is designed for cable and media boxes, not for other gaming devices.

Games
The Xbox One has more initial disc exclusives than Sony, including Dead Rising 3, Forza Motorsport 5 and Zoo Tycoon. However, it has fewer digital titles available to download now, the most high-profile of which is the fighting game Killer Instinct. Meanwhile, the Xbox 360 does not have any new games this season that are not also available on other platforms.

Deals

  • Xbox 360: $99 for 4GB version, at Walmart; $189.99 for 4GB version bundled with Kinect camera, at Target; $189.99 for 250GB version bundled with Halo 4, Darksiders II, Tomb Raider and Batman: Arkham City, at Best Buy; $199.98 at Sam’s Club or $199.99 at Radioshack for 4GB version bundled with Kinect camera, Kinect Sports Season 2 and Kinect Adventures; $199.99 for 4GB version bundled with Halo 3, at Toys “R” Us; $199.99 for 250GB version bundled with Forza Motorsport 4, at GameStop
  • Xbox One: Recently launched, so no special deals advertised below $499 MSRP
  • Accessories: $10.00 for a three-month Xbox Live subscription, at Target; $14.99 for three months of Xbox Live ,at Best Buy and GameStop; $19.99 for a refurbished Kinect camera, at GameStop, plus $5 to include refurbished AC adapter; $29.99 for a pre-owned Xbox 360 controller at GameStop; $34.99 for an Xbox 360 camouflage controller, at Best Buy; $39.00 for the camo controller, at Target; and $39.96, at Walmart; $39.99 for controllers, at Toys “R” Us and GameStop;

Individual games

There are too many different deals on individual games to list here, but if you’re looking for specific games for any of these systems, you can search for those game titles on this page at BlackFriday.com.

When do retail stores open for Black Friday?

  • Kmart: Some deals start Thursday at 6 am, others on Friday at 6 am (see Nintendo section above)
  • Toys “R” Us: Thursday at 5 pm
  • Walmart: Thursday at 6 pm
  • Best Buy: Thursday at 6 pm
  • Target: Thursday at 8 pm
  • GameStop: Friday at 12 am
  • Fry’s: Friday at 6 am
  • Sam’s Club: Friday at 7 am
  • RadioShack: Friday at 8 am

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— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google