No Love Among the Ruins of Circuit City

A storewide liquidation always summons one's buzzard instinct. One imagines the goods strewn about like carrion on the desert floor, practically there for the taking. Not so at Circuit City.

Circuit City's in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy which means all its assets are being sold off. That includes the in-store stock. But rolling up on the scene of the Circuit City nearest me on Thursday, it's hard to say anything is being priced to move. Thirty percent is the largest discount offered, and that's for electronics and other large items. For video games, it's just 10 percent. (Addendum: For controllers and accessories, it's 30 percent.) I have no idea if this is going to be a progressive thing, and as the sell-off drags on the discounts get steeper.

My guess is that video games are like the conflict diamonds of this industry - cheap to store and transport with robust secondary market demand for them. So Circuit City's gonna try to bleed as close to full price off of consumers and then when that doesn't work, sell them in lots to places like Gamefly, Blockbuster, or Gamestop, and pay creditors that way.

That really shot to hell my hopes and intentions of grabbing up any old, good titles I never played the first go around. No offense to Capcom (literally across the street) but $25 for Dead Rising wasn't whoa-gotta-buy-that price point. Plus, the quality of the rest of the selection was typical Circuit City crap. I've never seen so many copies of All Pro Football 2K8.

So I decided to pick out a dozen or so games and compare this storewide closeout bonanza against the competitors that drove it into the grave: the nearest Best Buy and Gamestop (down in Redwood City) and then the prices offered by Amazon.com and Half.com. I tried to look at games that represented a range of gamer and consumer interest, from sophisticated to undiscerning.

These pictures are of the games themselves I looked at, taken with my iPhone. The remaining staff, I might add, is in fuck-it mode. I overheard one telling another that the boss said not to bother refiling the games or movies alphabetically because after all, what's the point? (Indeed, four copies of Halo 2 were over in the PS3 racks.) So for once in my life, I was behaving weirdly inside the games section of a Circuit City and not treated like a shoplifter.

Of course we know how this is going to end: don't waste your gas driving to Circuit City for just a 10 percent discount. But along the way, we can see that Circuit City's going out of business about the same way it operated its business - with bad selection and beatable prices.

No Love Among the Ruins of Circuit City

Need for Speed: Carbon
Release date: Oct. 2006
Metacritic score: 77
Circuit City discounted price: $17.99 ($19.99)
GameStop price: $16.99 (used)
Best Buy price: $19.99
Amazon price: $19.49
Half.com price with shipping: $14.48

This was in a box full of games they claim ranged in price from $9 up to $19. (I never saw any $9 games). If anything deserved to be sold for less than $10, a three-year old underwhelming racer is it.






No Love Among the Ruins of Circuit City

Army of Two:
Release date: March 2008
Metacritic score: 74
Circuit City discounted price:$26.99 ($29.99)
GameStop price: Unavailable, store or web.
Best Buy price: $29.99 (web)
Amazon price: $29.99
Half.com price with shipping: $24.48

Is there some kind of Army of Two price-fixing cartel out there? Although I guess that half off the original price a year after release is pretty standard. Which is fine for other stores, and if I actually wanted this, I'm probably gonna pick it up there, not Circuit City.






No Love Among the Ruins of Circuit City

Facebreaker
Release date: Sept. 2008
Metacritic score: 53
Circuit City discounted price: $44.99 ($49.99)
GameStop price: $19.99
Best Buy price: $19.99 (web)
Amazon price: $19.99
Half.com price with shipping: $16.49

This is hands down the WTF deal of the day. Let's see, I can buy a terrible game from a failed retailer for $45 or I can go get it for less than half that from its other not-going-out-of-business competitors. Actually, third option, I can not buy the thing at all. Think I'll choose that. Circuit City needs to price this to MOVE, although I doubt it would even at a dollar ninety-five.




No Love Among the Ruins of Circuit City

Legendary
Release date: Nov. 2008
Metacritic score: 50
Circuit City discounted price: $26.99 ($29.99)
GameStop price: $29.99
Best Buy price: $59.99
Amazon price: $29.99
Half.com price with shipping: $33.58 (Note: some yo-yo in Ohio is trying to sell this for $68.39. Good luck with that, sir.)

Hooray! This is the one game where Circuit City's super going out of business bonanza actually beats all competitors' prices! Too bad you get this turd.






No Love Among the Ruins of Circuit City

Rock Band (game only)
Release date: Nov. 2007
Metacritic score: 92
Circuit City discounted price: $53.99 ($59.99)
GameStop price: $29.99 (used)
Best Buy price: $59.99
Amazon price: $56.99
Half.com price with shipping: $33.49
So, let's say I've got Rock Band 2 and want to snag Rock Band for its songs. That's reasonable, right? Whoops, everyone is still selling it (new anyway) at full friggin' price. Circuit City shaves a whole six bucks off, mighty big of them. This really should be priced down around the track pack level, otherwise, what's the point?






No Love Among the Ruins of Circuit City

Bioshock (Platinum Hits version)
Release date: Aug. 2007
Metacritic score: 96
Circuit City discounted price: $26.99 ($29.99)
GameStop price: $24.99 (used)
Best Buy price: $29.99
Amazon price: $23.99
Half.com price with shipping: $23.48

and

No Love Among the Ruins of Circuit City

Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Platinum Hits version)
Release date: March 2006
Metacritic score: 94
Circuit City discounted price: $26.99, ($29.99)
GameStop price: $24.99 (used)
Best Buy price: unavailable, store or web.
Amazon price: $29.99
Half.com price with shipping: $20.49 (Like New)

These are both fabulous games. They're also packaged in a box that plainly touts the fact they're more than a year old. If I haven't played it by now, I need some inducement to try. Like an OMFG price that makes me think I got a misprinted tag. $25 is still I'll-get-to-it-later territory.














No Love Among the Ruins of Circuit City

Lego Batman
Release date: Sept. 2008
Metacritic score: 75
Circuit City discounted price: $44.99 ($49.99)
GameStop price: Unavailable, store or web.
Best Buy price: $49.99 (web)
Amazon price: $36.99
Half.com price with shipping: $34.48
It's not a bad game, and it's still fresh, but I didn't come here looking to spend $45 on one title I'm more inclined to rent. Again, Circuit City, you want to liquidate this stuff, do so.








No Love Among the Ruins of Circuit City

MotorStorm (Greatest Hits version)
Release date: 82
Metacritic score: March 2007
Circuit City discounted price: $26.99 ($29.99)
GameStop price: Unavailable, store or web.
Best Buy price: $19.99
Amazon price: $27.99
Half.com price with shipping: $18.98

and

No Love Among the Ruins of Circuit City

Resistance: Fall of Man
Release date: Nov. 2006
Metacritic score: 86
Circuit City discounted price: $26.99 ($29.99)
GameStop price: $26.99
Best Buy price: $29.99
Amazon price: $27.99
Half.com price with shipping: $24.37

Two games that could conceivably be riding the coattails of their sequels, released this past fall. Instead, Circuit City's acting like it's going to be around tomorrow when you change your mind and decide to come back.














No Love Among the Ruins of Circuit City

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
Release date: Sept. 2008
Metacritic score: 70
Circuit City discounted price: $53.99 ($59.99)
GameStop price: $59.99
Best Buy price: $59.99
Amazon price: $56.99
Half.com price with shipping: $43.49

and

No Love Among the Ruins of Circuit City

U R Mr GaySuper Mario Galaxy
Release date: Nov. 2007
Metacritic score: 97
Circuit City discounted price: $44.99 ($49.99)
GameStop price: $49.99
Best Buy price: $49.99 (web)
Amazon price: $46.99
Half.com price with shipping: $38.49

Big names on both of these naturally mean high price tags. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed was the only game above $50 not behind glass at Circuit City. In about three months people might start to find this offered at a price somewhat commensurate to its value. Too bad Circuit City won't be around then. Super Mario World is nearing 18 months old and its price tag at a fire sale still shows original MSRP.












No Love Among the Ruins of Circuit City

Kung-Fu Panda
Release date: June 2008
Metacritic score: 70
Circuit City discounted price: $44.99 ($49.99)
GameStop price: $39.99 (web, used)
Best Buy price: $39.99
Amazon price: $27.99
Half.com price with shipping: $25.36

An average adaptation of one of last summer's most overshadowed movies going for nearly $20 more than you can get it online. I'm willing to bet any amount of Mike Fahey's money that this never leaves the store. Call me up if you want to take that action, Circuit City. And Fahey.