Sunday, November 29, 2009

Buying Games in India

I have wanted to compile a list of places from where you can get games in India for quite some time.

Physical Shops

If you want a physical shop, one option is your local Music World/Reliance Digital/Croma etc. This usually has the more popular titles, sold at MRP only. They stock PS3/PS2/Xbox 360 AND PC games. Then you have your shops in Pallika Bazaar - specially ones like Shop No. 2, which are famous for stocking the most titles. These keep PS3/PS2/XBox 360 and PC games - the caveat is this market sells mostly imported (NTSC-J) XBox consoles so original XBox games will be NTSC region and PC games are mostly pirated. On the flip side, they do allow you to trade in your old games and sell titles at a hefty discount. If you want a game, these are usually the cheapest way to get it and they do deliver to your home for Rs. 100/- or so if you live in NCR

Online - India

Next lets look at options to buy games from online shops in India. Here we have the two best options - EBay and Indiatimes. Why these two? Well EBay has an amazing Paisa Pay system that forces vendors to manage inventory properly. When buying online in India, vendors reporting an item in-stock when it actually isnt, is a rule rather than an exception. The rating system also forces the vendors to behave. Indiatimes too aggregates goods from vendors in a manner similar to EBay - it however, does NOT have the rating system and Paisa Pay protection - I have had a vendor sell me an item when he didnt have it and then I have had Indiatimes try to give me a coupon rather than refunding my money. You may think Indiatimes is a big portal - but functionally, its no different from EBay! Indiatimes is like what EBay would be if you had a site where only Power Sellers were allowed and then they removed some of the buyer protection features - better in some ways, worse in others.

Online - Abroad

So here we have two basic options - Shop To and Play-Asia. Shop To usually offers better deals and lower prices. They also have PAL games so there is no region compatibility issue on your XBox 360. However, they charge you some amount of money as delivery charge and this places their prices in the same range as Play Asia (which does free delivery). Both are reliable, with a caveat - they deliver via Air Mail, meaning your local post office has the final control over delivery - and problems crop up accordingly. However, both of these are THE cheapest way to get games online in India - often offering games at half or one third prices in Indian stores.

Combined List

Below I have tabulated all the places I found to buy games online in India. I havent tried all of these - rather I have tried only the four listed above. However, these are all options available to buy games.
  • EBay - as noted above, the best option if you can find comparable prices from a Power Seller
  • Indiatimes - also sources items from others (like Lets Buy below) Sellers occasionally report stock when they dont have it. Site tries to give you a coupon rather than a refund for items cheaper than Rs. 2000/-
  • Shop To - Sells PAL games, usually has cheapest prices, but charges for delivery.
  • Play-Asia - Nice site, delivers to India. Has higher prices than Shop To but free delivery. Mostly NTSC games only
  • Consoul - Well stocked, managed by a gamer. Has a HUGE collection and is one of the few to regularly stock XBox Live Points and Gold Memberships. Unfortunately, no credit card transactions
  • Letsbuy - M$ themselves recommend this one at multiple places. Stocks XBox Live Cards too. Also sells via Indiatimes
  • Buy Original MS - M$'s unified selling portal for all software. Currently the front page is hijacked by a stupid obnoxious Windows 7 banner (love the OS BTW). You can get in by using a known URL. Stocks live cards. The site seems just a portal (like Indiatimes) - I doubt either M$ or the sellers will accept any liability so use at your wn risk!
  • Game4u - M$ recommends this too. Lists but not stocks XBox Live Cards. Dedicated game site - havent tried it out.
  • Groove India - Another dedicated game site. Havent tried it.
  • Zook - General portal to search for goods via mobile; links to consoul for games.
  • Game UK - I have seen people recommend this on forums.
  • Gaming Indians - used to be useful - offered exclusive pre-orders etc. Now stuck in a recursive redirect
  • Game Gears - Offers exclusive deals etc. via the forums
I dont know anything about these ones below - they just turned up via a Google search selling XBox Games in India
Digital Services

Besides the obvious options (Steam etc. - I'll make a proper list one of these days!), you some companies (such as EA) also maintain their own digital stores. Then there is Apple's iTunes Store (only useful if you own a iPod Touch/iPhone obviously!)

But there are a couple of services I really want to mention - first is XBox Live Games on Demand. This has a nicely growing library of games, all at a uniform Rs. 1500/- New games are added every Tuesday US Time (Wednesday Morning IST) You can usually find these games cheaper elsewhere, but it may be the only option if you want an older game. Currently this is useless though - RBI's rules regarding credit cards broke the site and buying a card imposes an almost 50% premium on the cost of points (M$ India was ALREADY charging a premium from the 80 points to a USD rate in the US. This is 50% OVER that)

Second, we have the Games on Demand service from Indiagames. This comes for free on many of the higher end Airtel schemes - its Rs. 200/- p.m. otherwise. This offers older games and full versions of newer casual titles like World of Goo. As an added bonus, games DLed from this do not count to your limits and the connection speed goes to 2 mbps for these downloads.

Signing Off

Well thats it for now, tell me your buying experiences with these sites or tell me if you have some additional ones you want added to this list!
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