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Like Buying From the Back of a Truck

So you’re rolling through the city, drivin’ through the ge-hetto, and hit a stop sign. Out from a porch runs a dude yelling about how has he got a deal for you. He offers you a brand new 40″ flat panel TV for $100 bucks. Well, you think, there’s definitely something not right about this. But… $100? You start to mull.

That’s what happened to me yesterday when I came across Play-SC. I was jonesing for some new-game and Froogle to find the best price. That’s when this baby came up with $26 on Crysis 2. I clicked through to their homepage. It’s low-key, not fancy. Their selection offers activation codes, delivered via email “within a few hours,” and only for Steam, EA, RIFT, and Aion. Oh and it’s based out of Singapore. No physical media.

Hmm… probably something shady going on here, I thought.

But the prices, oh the prices. Some of them are about normal, maybe a couple dollars off. Most of them are Steam-sale cheap. Bulletstorm at $26.30 and Dead Space 2 for $27.76? (They’re $59.99 and $39.99 on Steam, respectively). Others, strangely, don’t match up. Mafia 2 is $29.22 on Play-SC and $14.99 on Amazon.

I did some digging, found comments on their Facebook wall from people with service inquiries. They also had a regularly updated Twitter. Seemed legit.

So I took the plunge and picked up both Bulletstorm and Dead Space 2. I didn’t get a response right away. Nothing within the “few hour” window listed on the site. When I got up the next morning, they replied to me apologizing for the delay and attributing it to timezone differences. Also waiting there were pictures of the CD-key stickers for each game I’d purchased! I plugged them in and they worked fine. I’m downloading both games right now.

I had an issue with Bulletstorm, though. It wouldn’t activate through the EA Download Manager (you buy the code and download it from an official source). Apparently not all games work with the manager and have to be downloaded from a torrent or some-such. This is because of how EA limits use of their download tool and not because of Play-SC. I got a quick response by hopping into Live Chat with their reps (it turned out to be the same guy who emailed me the codes and replied to me on Facebook.) When I asked him how they could provide such good prices, this is what he told me (to paraphrase, I closed the chat log):

Game prices aren’t the same around the world. We buy in bulk internationally, wherever it’s cheapest, and then offer a set rate. It usually turns out to be pretty low in the United States.

Anyways, color me surprised. I knew I was putting myself at risk, but I used PayPal — I’d never put my credit card up first thing — and figured that payoff was worth the chance. I’d definitely recommend this store. I was nervous but they’ve followed through and offered better support than many other, larger, retailers.

Still… it feels a bit like buying out of the back of a truck.

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