With Amazon Prime getting into the discount video games arena, it can be difficult to know where to shop these days. Well put your mind at ease my gaming friend, I’ve outlined the three major contenders and pitted them against each other to find you the very best deals.
Amazon is the new kid on the block when it comes to this but they’ve come out swinging by adding a video game benefit to their Amazon Prime membership. Meanwhile, Best Buy’s Gamers Club Unlocked has been around for a few years now, but it wasn’t until roughly a year ago when they lowered the price of membership that it started really taking off. Let’s not forget GameStop’s PowerUp Rewards Pro, the tried and true discount program, which has been around for years and years and years.
With all that out of the way, let’s get down to business. I’m going to be outlining all three of these memberships in terms of cost, extra perks, deals on new games, preorder bonuses, points program, shipping, store pickup, selection and deals on pre-owned games, trade-in bonuses, and trade-in value. The results of all this will be used to determine what’s the best option for your gaming dollar.
Note: With some of these categories, it doesn’t matter if you are a member or not. When that is the case, I refer to it with just the store name to avoid confusion and to show that that is the standard level of service. I’ve bolded these to indicate their free-ness.
Amazon Prime: $99/year with many other non-gaming benefits.
Gamers Club Unlocked: $30 for 2 years.
PowerUp Rewards Pro: $15/year.
Winner: No One. In terms of gaming, Best Buy and GameStop are equal in cost with Amazon being the worst choice if you were to become a Prime member just for games.
Extra Perks Not Related to Games
Amazon Prime: Exclusive/free movies and TV shows, free 2-day shipping, etc.
Gamers Club Unlocked: Not really anything. 🙁
PowerUp Rewards Pro: Subscription to Game Informer magazine.
Winner: Amazon Prime. Here’s where Amazon gets its well-deserved win for having a lot more features. Plus you’re probably a Prime member already anyway.
New Games Deals
Amazon Prime: 20% off all pre-orders and for the first two weeks after release. After that, regular price.
Gamers Club Unlocked: 20% off all games including preorders and amiibo/skylanders/Disney infinity/etc.
PowerUp Rewards Pro: Nope.
Winner: Best Buy’s Gamers Club Unlocked. 20% off no matter when seals the deal.
Amazon: Some games offer exclusive items sometimes.
Gamers Club Unlocked: Preordering some popular games will give you a $10 gift card.
GameStop: Some games offer exclusive items sometimes.
Winner: Best Buy’s Gamers Club Unlocked. $10 for a game I was going to buy anyway? Thanks, friend!
Amazon Prime: No points.
Gamers Club Unlocked: GCU gives you double reward points, so 2 points for every dollar. A $60 game becomes $47.99 which gives you 94 points. Spend $125 on games and you’ll earn enough points for a $5 gift card (250 points). That is roughly 2.6 $60 games. Also, you earn double points for trade-ins, making it 2 per dollar.
PowerUp Rewards Pro: 10% more points than the regular option. 250 points for starting or renewing membership. 10 points per dollar spent on new products, plus the 10%. 20 points per dollar on used items and for trades, plus the 10%. Points can be redeemed for many different types of rewards from shirts to wallets to gift cards. A $5 gift card is worth 5000 points which would require you to spend roughly $455 or 7.6 $60 games.
Winner: Best Buy’s Gamers Club Unlocked. It’s not amazing but it’s certainly better than the convoluted point scheme at GameStop.
Amazon Prime: Free release date delivery that is very reliable.
Best Buy: Free release date delivery on most games but execution is less reliable than Amazon.
GameStop: Not free but chances are you could get it on release date.
Winner: Amazon Prime. If you want it on release day and don’t want to leave your chair, Amazon is the safe bet.
Amazon Prime: Nope.
Best Buy: Spotty midnight launches but the game is guaranteed to be there first thing in the morning.
GameStop: More common midnight launches and the game is guaranteed to be there first thing in the morning.
Winner: Best Buy/GameStop (Tie). GameStop may have more midnight release events but that kind of thing doesn’t matter too much anymore and it’s still not going to be for every game you want to buy or at the store you preordered from.
Pre-Owned Game Selection
Amazon: Very good selection; however, if the seller isn’t Amazon Warehouse Deals, you might be a little hesitant to pull the trigger on a third party seller.
Best Buy: Limited selection that is highly variable, online or in store.
GameStop: Very good selection that will also vary from store to store. Known to charge high prices on certain games.
Winner: Amazon, with GameStop being a close second.
Pre-Owned Games Deals
Amazon: No deals but the game could still be cheaper than the other two.
Gamers Club Unlocked: 10% off all pre-owned games.
PowerUp Rewards Pro: 10% off all pre-owned games and accessories.
Winner: No One. You should probably look this up before you buy anything. Some pre-owned games are cheaper at Best Buy, some at GameStop. Others are cheaper at Amazon even after the discount the other two have.
Amazon Prime: Nope.
Gamers Club Unlocked: 10% extra credit.
PowerUp Rewards Pro: 10% extra credit.
Winner: Best Buy/GameStop (Tie).
Trade-In Value Comparison
I picked 7 games of varying ages and tested them on all three platforms. Price is listed Amazon/Best Buy/GameStop with the highest amount bolded. Amounts include the 10% trade in bonus where applicable. Values were looked up on 1/12/16.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (PS4): 21.53/22/24.20
Super Mario 3D World (Wii U): 20.81/15.40/14.30
The Last of Us Remastered (PS4): 14.33/18.70/22
Sunset Overdrive (X1): 4.23/3.30/8.80
Dragon Age: Inquisition (360): 2.32/0.27/11
The Order: 1886 (PS4): 1.06/1.10/7.70
Grand Theft Auto V (X1): 17.79/29.70/24.20
Mario Kart 8 (Wii U): 24.10/33/33
Wins: Amazon: 1, Best Buy: 2, GameStop: 6
Winner: GameStop’s PowerUp Rewards Pro. Clearly your mileage may vary depending on the game but GameStop is the winner, at least with these games. However, it may be best to look everything up beforehand to secure the best deal. Also, both Best Buy and GameStop are known to have trade deals such as a bonus 20% trade-in value when you trade 3 or more games. Look out for these deals to maximize your gaming dollar.
Looking at the total wins and their categories, Best Buy’s Gamers Club Unlocked comes away as the overall winner. The other two have their positive sides as well but if you are looking purely to save money on new video games, Gamers Club Unlocked is far and away the best choice. Hopefully this breakdown has helped you make a more educated purchasing decision, and here’s to more money for video games!