Another year, another manufactured shopping event with a silly name. Cyber Monday if you must, and here's a ratings overview to help guide you through the mess.
Amazon's mostly slashing game prices, a select few upwards of 40%. You can snag Madden NFL 11 and NCAA Football 11 for $35, Fable III, Fallout: New Vegas, or Rock Band 3 for $40, Super Scribblenauts for $22, and Demon's Souls for $20. You'll find dozens more if you browse, including hardware deals like the Peal White PSP Go for $150 (normally $200, and originally $250, back when Sony went temporarily insane), a couple $299 PS3 160 GB bundles, and a Nintendo DSi with Mario Party for $150. Amazon's also running those annoying "lightning deals" that trot out mystery products on a "deal begins, deal ends" timer. Do we really want to game an online storefront by playing "wait and watch"? No Amazon, we don't.
Best Buy's online-only video game deals are pretty much in line with Amazon's on the same titles, though Best Buy isn't discounting the PSP Go, or any other hardware of note. If nothing catches your eye today, the company's running a "Cyber Week" sale through December 4.
Kmart's Cyber Monday web presence is less intrepid and slightly muddled. The company's crammed video games in with "entertainment" instead of snapping them into a discrete category. The only deals I spotted this morning were $5 off select Nintendo DS games, and slightly more than a dozen modestly discounted Intec game peripherals, e.g. gamepads, guns, and knockoff Wii controllers.
GameStop has perhaps the broadest array of game markdowns, including Red Dead Redemption and Civilization V for $40, BioShock 2 for $20, and The Witcher for $15. Like Best Buy, hardware deals are limited to a handful of peripherals like headsets and control sticks, not systems or handhelds.
Like Kmart, Target's Cyber Monday "entertainment" deals get mixed in with movies and productivity software. They're also kind of lame, just a buck or two here and there, all on games half a decade old. Want geriatric real-time strategy game Age of Mythology for $9 instead of $10? The Sims 2 Seasons for $18 instead of $20? Neverwinter Nights: Kingmaker for $11 instead of $15? No thanks.
Toys 'R' Us
Toys 'R' Us has a few decent deals, including $10 off any PlayStation Move or Microsoft Kinect game and general discounts like $10 off your total spend once you've dropped $100.
Its handful of reasonable discounts notwithstanding, Walmart beats all for deceptive advertising with its "Xbox 360 Live Value Bundle" for $250. It's actually just the $200 4GB Xbox 360 plus a 3-month Xbox Live Gold card (worth $25, though Amazon's selling it for $20) and 1600 Microsoft Points (worth $20). That adds up to $245, meaning Walmart's actually charging more than you'd pay for these items individually. Note the "suggested" additional accessories down the page, for which you'll pay full price. Don't be fooled by "fake" deals like these.
And the best of the rest:
Buy.com has Call of Duty: Black Ops for $54 plus free shipping.
Steam's running daily "countdown" deals with discounts up to 90%.
Impulse doesn't have a Cyber Monday page but seems to be carrying last week's discounts forward.
Direct2Drive also lacks a Cyber Monday angle, but offers a "lowest price match guarantee" applicable to any of its games through December 31, 2010.
Gamersgate just launched a "Holiday Gift Guide" that's cycling each week with discounts on older games like Knights of Honor, Jack the Ripper, and F.E.A.R.
Follow us on Twitter (@game_on)