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Compared to other product categories, game console deals on Black Friday are a bit ho-hum. Last year, most of the deals we listed on these items featured statements like, "That's the lowest price we've seen... since last fall." Black Friday deals offered good price cuts, but nothing we hadn't seen before. This is probably because both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 are now several years old, and without a newer generation to out-date them, they can only go so low.What prices, then, should a consumer keep in mind? We saw the Xbox 360 Slim 4GB Console fall to $140 shipped last year around Black Friday, and considering it hasn't dropped that low since, we'd wager that's about as good a promotion you'll see this year, too. We did however list a deal in December that offered the console for $200 with a $75 Microsoft Store credit (which could easily be used for games), thus making it essentially $125; though risky, you could try skipping Black Friday all together and holding out for a similar deal this year as well. As for Sony's console, we didn't list any noteworthy PlayStation 3 console-only deals last year, but the lowest price we've seen for the 160GB Slim model is $200 even, so that remains the price to look for.
Real console deals spring up in special bundled packages. Not a single straight console saw an Editors' Choice-worthy price last year, but there were 14 holiday bundles that were marked with the honor. These bundles, which included premium accessories and two or three game titles, were often marked 30% to 40% off their retail prices.
While logical thinking might suggest that the original Wii will now see record-breaking low prices with the debut of the Wii U, we actually haven't seen any stellar offers on new units. Instead, the Editors' Choice deals have been for used and refurbished models. It's possible that this long-awaited update allowed retailers to efficiently clear their stock of the older model.
The Wii U, meanwhile, has proven very popular in preorders; it officially ships on November 18. While the original Wii saw no deals at Black Friday in 2006, it's now more common for big retailers to list an attention-grabbing offer on popular items as a means of publicity to draw in customers. For example, in September, Walmart offered a slight discount on the iPhone 5 — a product that in no way needed the added incentive. It's possible that some stores could float a similar promotion with the Wii U.
A console is only as good as its available games, and luckily, the news is much better in this department. Video game titles that were released early in the year, or late in 2011, could see discounts of up to 75% off their original retail price; for example, DiRT 3 debuted in May of last year at $60, but come Black Friday it fell to $15.
But even recently-released, hot titles will see good deals. Last year, one of the biggest game releases was Batman: Arkham City, and it hit shelves in October of 2011 priced at $60. Just over a month later, we saw a deal from Amazon that knocked it to $30. That's a 50% cut on a very popular game. This trend repeated itself for Battlefield 3. It was released in October at $60, and then it fell to $28 on Black Friday. Keep in mind though that several of these video games might see even better prices during the shopping sweet spot in the two weeks before Christmas.
Regardless of whether you're looking for a game, a console, or an accessory, one thing's for sure: gamers should shop early. Last year, we listed 67 video game deals (which included consoles and game titles), on Thanksgiving Day, compared to just 26 on Black Friday itself. Saturday, Sunday, and Cyber Monday each had 25 or fewer deals. PC gamers might want to log on even earlier; for the past two years, Steam has offered its big promotional sale starting the day before Thanksgiving. In both cases, the site has taken up to 90% off notable titles like Portal 2 and Call of Duty: Black Ops. Regardless of what the platform is, it's important to start looking for deals before Black Friday.
Summary: Black Friday Predictions for Gaming
According to our data from last year, 56% of all toy deals we posted during Black Friday week were good enough to earn the Editor's Choice label, compared to an average week during the rest of the year in which only 25% of toy deals were Editors' Choice-worthy. But what does that mean, in terms of discounted retail prices?
Consider, if you will, the Air Swimmer. Named one of Toys "R" Us' Fabulous 15 for 2011, we originally saw the Air Swimmer for $57 in September of last year. Come Black Friday though, we listed it for $31, a 46% drop in price. While this doesn't hold true for all toys, it's not unrealistic to predict that many popular toys in late September and early October could eventually be marked down up to 50% off during the last week of November.
This perhaps paints a picture that Black Friday is the best time to buy toys. Unfortunately, that's not entirely accurate. In fact, toy deals continue to get better and more abundant as we head into the holiday season. One example is the VTech Ride & Learn Giraffe Bike that was on sale for $30 with free shipping around Black Friday last year. This was an excellent deal, but two weeks later we found it for $5 less. The aforementioned Air Swimmer also became cheaper in December, dropping an additional $6.
This year, we expect to see a similar level of Editors' Choice deals during the week of Black Friday, however many of them could drop in price as we head towards the holidays themselves. Will every deal reappear at a lower price? Probably not. But if you're thinking of purchasing a specific toy, you might want to wait to see if it's cheaper a few weeks after Black Friday. However, if it's a must-have-or-I'll-tantrum toy, you might want to think about snapping it up at the first deal price you find in order to avoid a scene during the holiday festivities.
Summary: Black Friday Predictions for Toys