For many decades, Black Friday has been one of the best times of the year to purchase video games and video game consoles. Many game studios typically wait for the holidays to launch their must-have titles, but because of the pandemic this year, Black Friday 2020 looks to be full of repeated deals and lackluster sale prices.
The 2020 holiday season was meant to be a special one, thanks in large part to the much-hyped release of Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X. These two next-generation consoles were set to light the holiday season on fire, but due to the pandemic, several of the most anticipated titles were pushed back to 2021. On top of that, the pandemic has drastically changed what a launch event would look like in retail locations, with Sony even going so far as to publicly state that no PlayStation 5 consoles would be available in any retail location on launch.
Preorders for both consoles were only held online in September and both console preorders sold out, within minutes, at every retailer. Once November rolled around, several retailers who accepted preorders began notifying customers that, due to COVID-19, shipping issues would prevent their consoles from arriving on time. So, while both the Xbox Series and PlayStation 5 have been massively popular, many eager gamers have come up well short of actually getting their hands on the consoles this holiday season.
Complicating matters is the Nintendo Switch, which has become the go-to video game console during the pandemic. Just as the nation went into a lockdown in March, Nintendo released “Animal Crossing: New Horizons.” The game was the perfect antidote to being stuck inside all day; it’s an island adventure full of chores, landscaping, decorating and traditional Animal Crossing experiences. As a result, it became nearly impossible to find a Nintendo Switch at any retailer. The secondary market absolutely exploded, with Nintendo Switch used consoles selling at almost double their retail equivalents.
Black Friday 2020 Xbox gaming deals
So far, only a handful of retailers have released Black Friday ads with an emphasis in gaming. GameStop and Best Buy are the standouts, but neither of them have any major deals on any of the year’s hottest titles.
GameStop did confirm that all of their locations would have two Xbox Series consoles, in-store only, on launch day. GameStop has not confirmed any other deals for any Xbox Series games or accessories, though it is possible a deal may pop up just in time for Black Friday.
Best Buy did have a handful of Xbox Series consoles in stores on launch, but similar to GameStop, they have not advertised any deals for any Xbox Series games. However, during the holiday launch of the Xbox One, Best Buy did hold massive savings on Xbox games on Christmas morning. It’s possible they might hold another similar sale this year, so shoppers looking for great deals on Xbox titles might want to gamble and wait to see if Best Buy matches their previous launch-year deals.
One Xbox exclusive title that received a discounted price for Black Friday was “Gears Tactics.” GameStop will be selling the title for $30, and will also be available to purchase for PC. The game currently retails for $60 and is set within the Gears of War universe. Gameplay is similar to Xcom, in that it is a tactical squad shooter rather than a traditional Gears of War game.
Hot deals on non-exclusive Xbox titles include “Watch Dogs: Legion” for $33, “Madden 21” for $27, “Marvel’s Avengers” for $27 and “Mortal Kombat Aftermath” for $27. Smart shoppers will want to note that the “Mortal Kombat Ultimate Edition” may be the better purchase, even at full retail. GameStop is also advertising “Star Wars: Squadrons” for only $17, and “Star Wars Fallen Jedi” for $30. Gamers who have the Ultimate Game Pass were given access to EA Pass on Nov. 10, and should note that “Fallen Jedi” is free to play there.
Unfortunately, the two most anticipated titles for Xbox were delayed this year. “Halo Infinite” was supposed to be a launch title that was set to release along with the Xbox Series. However, due to the negative reaction to teasers over the summer, Microsoft pushed the release date to an undisclosed date in 2021. The title was thought to be an early 2021 release, but recent rumors have it releasing possibly at the end of summer next year. The other big title for Xbox, “Cyberpunk 2077,” was originally going to launch around the same time as the console. The non-exclusive title was recently pushed back to Dec. 10, with recent rumors stating it’s likely to be pushed back to 2021.
Black Friday 2020 PlayStation gaming deals
Due to the delay of “Halo Infinite,” Sony is set to have a much stronger holiday season than Microsoft.
Sony was forced to publicly announce during the first week of November that, on the launch day for the PlayStation 5, no retailer would have any product available for purchase in stores. However, Sony was able to secure a few units to a handful of retailers for launch-day purchases online, which sold out in a matter of minutes. Many retailers also had to confirm shortages with their preorders, stranding gamers who thought they would be getting a system at launch and leaving them stuck without any official date as to when the console would arrive.
Sony has two major exclusives that launched alongside the new console; a remake of “Demon’s Souls” and a semi-sequel to 2018’s Spider-Man via “Miles Morales: Spider-Man.” Sony’s Miles Morales exclusive title was the subject of major controversy over the summer after it was announced that the original Spider-Man title would be getting a remastered re-release for the PlayStation 5, but only if you purchased the $70 PlayStation 5 version of Miles Morales. Sony released a PlayStation 5 enhanced version of Spider-Man, which is vastly different from the remastered edition. On top of souring players with this new version, Sony originally confirmed that players’ saved games from their PlayStation 4 would not be transferrable to the PlayStation 5 remastered version of Spider-Man, forcing players to replay the entire game from the beginning. After facing massive amounts of backlash over that announcement, Sony has since confirmed that they are working on a way to incorporate those specific saved games, but it is unclear if a solution will release in 2020.
As with the Xbox, “Watch Dogs: Legion” for PlayStation 4 will be $33 at GameStop for Black Friday, along with “Madden 21” for $27, “Marvel’s Avengers” for $27 and “Mortal Kombat Aftermath” for $27. GameStop will also have “Star Wars: Squadrons” for PS4 for only $17 and “Fallen Jedi” for $30. GameStop will also have the “Final Fantasy VII” remake for only $35. For exclusives, GameStop will also have “Ghosts of Tsushima” for $40 and the “Last of Us Part II” for only $30.
The major release of “Cyberpunk 2077” has been officially delayed until Dec. 10. This is the latest title from CD Projekt Red and is hotly anticipated thanks in large part to the massive success of “The Witcher 3.”
Black Friday 2020 Nintendo Switch gaming deals
Nintendo has had a much, much better year than both Sony and Microsoft, thanks in large part to the massive sales behind the Nintendo Switch console. Nintendo released the “Ring Fit Adventure” game last fall, a workout-based adventure game, which also ended up spiking in huge sales over the summer thanks to the pandemic.
Nintendo also has a hot exclusive releasing just before Black Friday in “Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity.” The game is a semi-follow-up to the much-loved “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.” Age of Calamity is a Hyrule Warriors game, but it is set in the Breath of the Wild universe, complete with similar art design and familiar playable characters. Fans of both series are wildly excited for its release and it is easily the hottest Nintendo Switch title of the holiday season.
Nintendo also had a stellar release this year with their “Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit” release in October. The product is almost more of a toy than a video game, as it features a drone-like Mario (or Luigi) Kart that is controlled by the Nintendo Switch. The Kart features a camera that displays its image on the Switch, allowing players to race around the house with augmented reality displaying enemy racers, coins and weapons on the screen. The game has been sold out since it launched and there has been no confirmation of additional stock hitting retailers in time for the holidays.
Nintendo is still working hard to make sure retailers have the Switch stocked for the holidays. During the first week of November, Nintendo confirmed that retailers would have a new Switch bundle for Black Friday. The bundle includes the latest model Switch (released in 2019), a download code for “Mario Kart 8,” and three months of Nintendo’s online service. This is slightly better than the 2018 Nintendo Switch bundle at GameStop, which included the Switch, “Mario Kart 8” and a $25 gift card. What makes the deal slightly better this year isn’t the three months of Nintendo Online, but rather the newer-model Switch featured in the bundle, which boasts a better battery life than the original Switch.
Nintendo confirmed several Black Friday deals for many of their exclusive titles, which will be available for digital download from Nintendo or in physical form at almost all retailers. Nintendo announced that “Super Mario Maker 2,” “Luigi’s Mansion,” “Link’s Awakening,” “Fire Emblem: Three Houses,” “Mario Tennis Aces,” “Yoshi’s Crafted World,” “Splatoon 2” and “New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe” would all be $40 for Black Friday. Pokemon fans can also score 2018’s “Let’s Go, Pikachu!” or “Let’s Go, Eevee!” for only $30.
Traditionally, both Best Buy and Amazon have had discounted Nintendo eShop cards over the holidays, and we predict that similar sales will take place this year.