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One thing is consistent, though: If you're looking to buy a video game (for yourself or someone else), you're bound to find a stellar deal.
As shoppers gear up for the buying frenzy, there's another factor to consider. While you're never certain on a day-to-day basis whether your favorite retailer might have an Xbox One or PlayStation 4 in stock, it's a certainty they'll have a few on hand on Black Friday -- and, if you're willing to brave the crowds (and have luck on your side), it can be your best chance to get one.
As for discounts on those systems? Not even Santa can pull that off. But you can find plenty of other bargains out there:
If you're in the market for a PS3 rather than a PS4, Wal-Mart has one heck of a deal. For $200, you can get the 250GB slim system as well as Game of the Year contender The Last of Us and open-world romp Batman: Arkham Origins. The 12 GB version is available for just $150, but the value proposition on that one isn't quite as good, especially if you plan on downloading lots of games (you should plan on that).
Doorbuster sales will include Call of Duty: Ghosts for $40 and Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Batman: Arkham Origins, Grand Theft Auto V and NBA 2K14 for $34. All of these also come with an in-stock guarantee for the first hour, meaning if they sell out between 6pm-7pm Thursday night, you'll get a rain check for the doorbuster price.
If the idea of going to Wal-Mart on Black Friday terrifies you (and it should), you can pick up the same PS3 bundle with The Last of Us and Batman Arkham Origins for $200 at this slightly less crazy big box retailer. But more impressive is what it offers prospective Xbox 360 gamers.
Best Buy offers a $190 Xbox 360 bundle for the 250 GB version, as well as a wireless Xbox headset, digital copies of Tomb Raider and Batman: Arkham City, and physical copies of Halo 4 and Darksiders 2. That's the best of the Xbox 360 deals we've seen this year. The retailer will also offer the Wii U Mario bundle for $320 -- a $50 savings -- but more impressive is its two-for-one deals on Skylanders Swap Force characters. If your kids are Skylanders fans, this will save you all kinds of cash.
GameStop will have the same PS3 bundle as its competitors as well as an Xbox 360 bundle with Tomb Raider and Halo 4 for $200. Gamewise, there will be plenty of sales - including Battlefield 4 for $25. It will also offer two-for-one deals on Disney Infinity characters -- and if you still need a Wii, by chance, you can get one for a mere $40.
Most notably, buy 2 pre-owned items -- anything from games to accessories to system hardware - and you'll get another one free. Perfect if you have lots of gamers on your list.
Toys 'R Us
The toy retailer is one of the best places to pick up the starter pack for either Disney Infinity or Skylanders Swap Force with an absurdly low price of just $37.49. (The idea, of course, is that you'll also load up on additional figurines.) It's also offering 50 percent off of any game -- including PS4 and Xbox One titles -- when you buy one at full price.
Black Friday came early to Amazon, which kicked off its holiday sales earlier this week. Timed daily deals are being offered for a wide variety of games. Among the offers you can expect are Grand Theft Auto V, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Battlefield 4 and Batman: Arkham Origins for $34. The site is also offering discounted pricing on several gaming accessories, including headsets and controllers.
Microsoft's not sitting the shopping frenzy out, especially with its renewed focus on digital distribution. Spokesperson Larry Hyrb announced some of the deals Tuesday, and they're pretty impressive. Among them: Tomb Raider for $15, Metro: Last Light for $25 and The Bureau: XCOM Declassifed for $20.
The popular digital download service just announced its Autumn Sale, and it's a doozie.
Running from November 27 - December 3, it's chock full of bargains. Daily deals are refreshed every 24 hours, but if you can't wait that long, flash sales are changed every 8 hours. You'll find a mix of big games and smaller, critically-acclaimed hits on sale, including BioShock Infinte at 50% off and Batman: Arkham Origins at 25% off. Users can also customize their own wishlist to get notified the minute a game they're interested in goes on sale. And don't think that's just for you -- gifting games to friends is as easy as buying for yourself.
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