I headed home from work early yesterday. It was Valentine’s Day and my wife was cooking up something special for me for dinner. (Heart shaped cube steaks, hash browns, and steamed broccoli. Happy food for my pedestrian tastes.)
However, in the car I got a call from my wife that somebody was coming over to see our house, which is up for sale, so dinner would be delayed. Having some time to kill, I decided to stop at three computer retailers on my way home to see the state of the shelves for three recent releases, Echoes of Faydwer, Burning Crusade, and Vanguard: Saga of Heroes.
Fry’s – Sunnyvale
My first stop and my favorite place to shop. Business was booming for 4pm on a Wednesday afternoon. Computer nerds were out in force. Special displays were set up near the front featuring flowers, candy, and cards for Valentine’s Day, proving again that I really need not shop any place else. I went straight back to the game aisle to browse.
Echoes of Faydwer – Multiple copies on the shelf, selling at list price ($39.99). (Fry’s has deep shelves, a single facing of a game could mean 8 copies on the shelf.) Fry’s, being Fry’s, had EoF sitting on the shelf above EverQuest II “Classic,” Kingdom of the Sky, and Desert of Flames. There were also at least three different EverQuest expansions on the shelf along with EverQuest and EverQuest Titanium.
Burning Crusade – A lot of copies on the shelf as well as an end cap display and a shipper display at the end of the games aisle. It was selling at list price ($39.99). While the shelf and the displays were packed, considering how many copies they had at launch, that was no surprise. There were also at least a dozen Collector’s Editions sitting on the shelf, so if you wanted one, Fry’s has them. Classic WoW was also on the shelf along with the $1.99 Demo Disc version.
Vanguard – A lot of copies on the shelf, plus a number of Collector’s Editions. While the CE was selling for list ($89.99) the standard version was selling for ten dollars off ($39.99). I was tempted to pick up a copy at that price, but my vow was $35 or less, so I held off.
Best Buy – Almaden
I like Best Buy, though not as much as Fry’s. It has a more corporate feel and the selection is pretty limited compared to Fry’s. The game aisle at Fry’s has more Windows software in it than Best Buy has in the whole store. But my local Best Buy is clean, the people are friendly, and the game section is right up front.
Echoes of Faydwer – A few copies on the shelf plus several more on the featured games display, selling at list price ($39.99). No other versions of the game were visible.
Burning Crusade – A double facing of copies on the shelf and a double helping on the featured games display, selling at list price ($39.99). No Collector’s Editions were visible. Classic WoW was also on the display for the usual price.
Vanguard – Quite a few boxes on the featured game display, at least as many as there were Burning Crusade boxes, plus a single facing of copies on the game aisle. They were selling at list price ($49.99) and there were a few Collector’s Editions on the display as well.
CompUSA – Blossom Hill
I dislike CompUSA for a variety of reasons. If it wasn’t for the fact that they are walking distance from my house, I wouldn’t bother with them. While people complain about their policies, I could live with that if the service in my local store was decent. It rarely is.
True to form, when I went in, there were a dozen employees visible, including the manager, but only on person checking people out. That poor checkout person was locked in a battle to the death over a return, so the six other people in line were agitated and beginning to shout things at the store manager, who stood with his back to the line roughly eight feet away, with his hands in his pockets talking to an employee.
Business as usual. Seriously. I have seen this scene repeated on weekdays more than a few times.
Still, I wasn’t there to buy, I was there to kill time. I headed to the game section, which was in its usual state of disarray. MMOs and like games are on the other side of a partition from the majority of Windows games (which live under a “Games for Windows” sign big enough to make Jeff Green grin like a maniac… or would make him grin if a copy of Games for Windows magazine had been visible anywhere in the store) and, probably due to their hidden location, at least look somewhat organized.
Echoes of Faydwer – Two copies on the shelf, selling for list price ($39.99)
Burning Crusade – Six copies on the shelf, plus another dozen in a display near the front of the store. It was selling for list price, of course ($39.99) and a couple of copies of classic WoW on the shelf as well.
Vanguard – Two copies at list price ($49.99) plus a Collectors Edition in one of those locked plastic boxes that they usually reserve for pre-paid game cards, only in a super-deluxe size. There was no space on the shelves for the CE in its big plastic box, so it was on the bottom of the display by itself.
For the three titles I was surveying, the suggested retail price seems to be holding. The only exception was Vanguard at Fry’s, and since Fry’s had many more copies than the other two store combined, you can see why they might be budging on the price already. Still, it was good to see copies of all of the games were readily available, including Burning Crusdade Collectors Editions.
Along with that, my visit also helps illustrate why Fry’s and Best Buy are expanding operations while CompUSA is closing stores.
Addendum: Today’s Fry’s ad has the Burning Crusade Collector’s Edition listed for $69.99. Get them while they last, I guess.