Much as we'll credit Thanksgiving for the impending four-day weekend, the holiday may feel like an interminable hurdle after reading up on these Black Friday sales, which kick off at various times on Thursday and Friday and serve up some of the year's biggest games at downright silly prices. Need a new console? It's the best time of the year to nab a jam-packed, dirt-cheap bundle. If you're planning on staking out a spot outside your big-box retailer of choice, our guide – split between games and console sales – can help you plan out potential purchases. It should make Thursday with the family more bearable, at least.
This page covers games; consoles are on page 2.
1. Walmart – Sale begins THURSDAY at 10 p.m.
For the second year running, Walmart has the best overall game deals for a brick-and-mortar retailer, and this year, they're kicking things off at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving, although the deals extend through Black Friday. What's on tap? Games like Batman: Arkham City, Battlefield 3, Forza Motorsport 4, Gears of War 3, Madden NFL 12, and FIFA Soccer 12 are $28 apiece, while Dance Central 2 and Kinect Sports: Season Two are going for the jaw-droppingly low sums of $15 each. Even the $10 games offer up some solid picks, including BioShock 2, Pure, and Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days (although we've seen those for less elsewhere in the past). And if you didn't snap up The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword earlier this week, the bundle with the gold Wii Remote Plus is just $59.96.
2. Best Buy – Sale begins at midnight
Best Buy's serving up a slick blend of new releases and older favorites at pretty stellar prices, starting with Assassin's Creed: Revelations, Forza Motorsport 4, NBA 2K12 and FIFA Soccer 12 for $34.99 apiece. Also available are titles like Gears of War 3, Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Disney Universe for $29.99 each, while a variety of recent Kinect releases – including Dance Central 2, Kinect Sports: Season Two, and Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster – are available for $24.99 a pop. Even lower on the price scale are older 2011 titles like Dirt 3 and Homefront for $14.99 each, while the Gears of War Triple Pack (GOW1+2 and DLC), Scribblenauts, and other stocking-ready options are just $7.99 apiece.
And while these aren't listed in the ad (just on the website), games like Battlefield 3, Batman: Arkham City, Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, Rage, Madden NFL 12, and Need for Speed: The Run will be available for $29.99 each in stores on Friday, as well as at bestbuy.com on Thursday.
3. Meijer – Sale begins at 4 a.m.
If you have a Meijer in your area, you'll have your pick of several new releases at pretty stellar prices between 4 a.m. and noon on Friday. Games like Battlefield 3, Need for Speed: The Run, NBA 2K12, Rage, Forza Motorsport 4, Gears of War 3, and Resistance 3 are priced at $29.99, while Star Fox 64 3D, Dance Central 2, MLB 12: The Show, and Disney Universe (only the Wii version is shown) will sell for $19.99. And if you're seeking some cheap older games for gifts, God of War III and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II are $9.99 apiece, among others.
4. Target – Sale begins at midnight
Amidst the pack, Target's deals are a bit of a mixed bag – some aren't quite as alluring as the others we've spotlighted, while a few are actually better. The retailer is offering a $10 gift card with the regular-price purchase of games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Rayman Origins, while its top-tier sale games (without the gift card) include Battlefield 3, Gears of War 3, and Resistance 3 for $37 each. Forza Motorsport 4 at $27 is a steal, though, and if you've been looking for a reason to own a creepy plush baby that holds a Wii Remote, Babysitting Mama is just $5.
5. Toys R Us – Sale begins THURSDAY at 9 p.m.
Toys R Us isn't going for the wow factor of individually lowered game prices – but based on what you're buying, its "Buy One, Get One for $5" may prove a better overall option than what's found elsewhere. Only select games are included in the deal (and you're paying full price for the more expensive one), but the list includes titles like Gears of War 3, Rage, Forza Motorsport 4, Battlefield 3, Need for Speed: The Run, Dance Central 2, The Sims 3: Pets, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Madden NFL 12, and NASCAR Unleashed.
6. GameStop – Sale begins at midnight/5 a.m.
More than 2,200 GameStop stores are opening at midnight, but not all of them – so be sure to check the website before plotting a late-night trip. Admittedly, the deals aren't quite as eye-popping as at other stores, but the sheer number of locations might yield a better shot at landing these offerings. Standouts on the flier include Rayman Origins for $39.99 ($29.99 on Wii) all weekend, along with Rage for $29.99 on Friday only. Gears of War 3 and Forza Motorsport are both $39.99 on Friday, while Portal 2, Crysis 2, and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 are $29.99 apiece all weekend.
Meanwhile, Battlefield 3, Need for Speed: The Run, Madden NFL 12, and FIFA Soccer 12 are $39.99 apiece all weekend. Sonic Generations is listed at $29.99, while Driver: San Francisco is $19.99, with both deals seemingly available all weekend. And in typical GameStop fashion, all used items are Buy 2, Get 1 Free from Friday to Sunday.
7. Kmart – Sale begins THURSDAY at 6 a.m.
Kmart has made a big push towards gaming deals in recent years, but its Black Friday offerings are fairly tame compared to the rest on this list. That said, Kmart stores in most states are open on Thanksgiving Day from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., stunningly, and its $39.99 sale does include some games that didn't end up discounted elsewhere. Among those sale titles are Dark Souls, Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, and Lord of the Rings: War in the North, along with Need for Speed: The Run, Madden NFL 12, Gears of War 3, and Forza Motorsport 4. Meanwhile, for $29.99 you can nab Dance Central 2, Rage, or Kinect Sports: Season Two. And the Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure starter pack for Xbox 360 and PS3 is $49.99.
8. Sears – Sale begins at 4 a.m.
Sears probably isn't the first place you think of for video games, and expectedly, its Black Friday game deals aren't showstoppers. But there are some solid options in the mix, like Rage for $29.99, while Battlefield 3, Need for Speed: The Run, and FIFA Soccer 12 are $39.99 each. Those are all valid from 4 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, but Sears also has some two-day specials, like Dance Central 2 and Kinect Sports: Season Two for $29.99 a pop, along with Gears of War 3 and Forza Motorsport 4 for $39.99 each. Pretty much all of those, however, can be found cheaper elsewhere.
9. Amazon – Start time TBD (but probably early)
If you’d rather avoid long lines but still want to get into the Black Friday mix, Amazon’s got a huge list of deals planned, as detailed by Cheap Ass Gamer. Most of the best deals are of the time-limited Lightning Deals variety, which include Rayman Origins and Need for Speed: The Run for $39.99, Assassin’s Creed Revelations for $34.99 and Gears of War 3, Batman: Arkham City and InFamous 2 for $28. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is $29.99, Forza 4 matches Target’s price at $27, and Driver San Francisco is just $19.99. If you’re not quick enough to catch the lightning deals, Amazon’s also got a selection of decent all-day deals, including Gears 3 and NFS: The Run for $39.99, Dark Souls for $31.99 and Duke Nukem Forever for $9.99.
Next page: Console deals!