Purchasing Open Box Copies Of Half-Life 2
A few weeks back, digg.com had a link on the home page to buy Half-Life 2 retail box for only $0.99 (yes, 99 cents). Sounds too good to be true doesn't it? Well, it almost is. They weren't brand new copies, but were open box. But hey, for a buck is it even considered gambling to give it a shot? I didn't think so, so I went for it (and I am glad I didn't waste any time, the stock was sold out a few hours later when a buddy I told about the deal checked it out).
There was a limit of 2, so I bought 2. The worst part of the deal was that the site charged me $9.50 for shipping and handling (and the USPS postage was only $3.13). But oh well, I was possibly buying two copies of a $50 game for only $11.48 out of pocket.
The whole risk is if the CD keys will activate OK or not. Half-Life 2 uses Steam, an on-line game content management system, to authenticate itself - and will only allow a single person to use a CD key. But some quick research found that even if the CD key was in use (meaning the previous owner was still actively using the CF key), I could pay $10 and mail-in the CD sleeve and Valve would send me a new key. So no big whoop, I would then have paid $10.99 + S&H for each copy of the game (worst case scenario).
Why buy the extra copies in the 1st place? Well, it seemed stupid to let such a great game go for only 99 cents and not try and grab a few. I have a few machines on my LAN, and I was thinking it would be nice to get HL2 and Counter Strike: Source installed on every machine so my brother-in-law or whoever could play a game when over.
On a recent trip to So Cal I had a few late night game sessions with some friends, and one of them had to shell out full price to buy the game on the spot to join in. I thought that pretty much sucked.
So, how did my open boxes turn out? Well, right now I am 1 for 1. I just successfully installed and activated one of the copies on a machine on my home LAN. The other copy I gave away as a gift to my dad who really enjoyed the game on one of his last visits. I hope he has the same luck as I.
If you are looking for info on resetting, or getting a new CD key from Valve, here is the support info direct from the Steam Powered web site.
UPDATE: Sept. 28th Today my dad confirmed with me that the install and activation of his Half-Life 2 worked fine. He also said that he was stuck on the 1st level and maybe needed to purchase a guide. So overall I had a good experience buying open box games. Anyone out there get burned?