Let’s face it, playing video games is an expensive hobby. With a tight budget, often times the thought of shelling out 60 bucks for a brand new game is out of the picture. Fortunately, there is a handful of LEGAL ways to play all of the years biggest games without leaving a massive dent in your wallet. Here are five quick tips that can save you hundreds of dollars each year on video game purchases.
Tip #1 Do Your Research
This first tip kind of goes without saying. Making sure you’re at least moderately knowledge about the games you’re interested in playing will help you make better-informed purchasing decisions. Don’t fall for the hype! Making a decision to purchase a game after watching one cool trailer is almost always a bad idea. Instead, research different video game websites and find a group of journalists you trust. Read reviews for games, watch ‘lets plays’ on youtube, and listen to podcasts. If that sounds too time-consuming, Metacritic is a great resource to gauge the general critical consensus of a game without having to do any real research. By aggregating the review scores from all the major gaming publications, Metacritic will present you with an average review score.
Tip #2 Don’t Spend Money on In-Store Pre-Orders!
This always confuses me when people do this. Paying five bucks to guarantee a copy on day one is almost always a waste. Game shortages are very rare nowadays, and as long as there is demand for a game, copies will always be readily available as soon as possible. Also, don’t fall victim to pre-order bonuses. Publishers use these bonuses in connection with retailers to incentive pre-orders sales by offering exclusive content to only the consumers who pre-order the game. Most of the time, these bonuses provide very little, if any meaningful content and often only amount to in-game cosmetic items. Another way publishers try to push pre-orders sales is by offering early access to the game through a demo or beta. Although it may seem enticing at first to spend a few extra bucks to test out a game before release, these betas are usually only used to stress-test the games online servers, are often broken and serve as a poor first impression of the game.
Tip #3 Avoid Day One Purchases
So you’ve done your research, passed on the pre-order bonus, and the game has finally come out. The time has come to buy your new game, right? Unfortunately no, it’s not. For many reasons, it’s become a bit of a trend for publishers to release completely broken games at launch in this current console generation. This pattern goes double for multiplayer games. When Battlefield 4 was released as a PlayStation 4 launch title, conquest mode (the most popular game mode for Battlefield) was completely broken for the first couple months. Halo Anniversary, Microsoft’s biggest exclusive game at the time was completely unplayable for its entire holiday season and remained broken for some time afterward. Even single-player games tend to be broken at launch now. Assassin’s Creed Unity was riddled with bugs at launch and the most recent Fallout 4 unsurprisingly released with game breaking frame rates. It’s no longer safe to purchase games on day one. Instead, the best course of action is to wait it out and see how stable the game is after release. If the game is still a broken mess after one or two months post-release, it’s probably time to reassess your interest and wait for a sale.
Tip #4 Buy Used Games
When researching games, sometimes I will come across a title I’m moderately interested in but not quite willing to drop 60 dollars on. Other times a game that I’m very interested in, but for whatever reason, currently don’t have the time to play. After missing the zeitgeist of a new release, it’s best to wait for a game to substantially drop in price before you decide to make a purchase. The cheapest way to purchase older games is to buy them used, and the best places to buy used games are on sites such as Amazon, eBay, or Craigslist. When you’re purchasing used games from these sellers, the cut Amazon or Ebay takes from a game sale is far less money than opposed to a place like Gamestop. One of my favorite tools I use to purchase used games is a site called camelcamelcamel.com. This tool allows you to create price watches on Amazon for specific products and the site notifies you via email once the product falls below a certain price threshold of your choosing. So if you’re only willing to spend a certain amount on the desired game, used or new, camelcamelcamel will notify you via email when the price has dropped.
Tip #5 Never Purchase Digital Games at Full Retail Price.
Purchasing digital games at the full retail price is the number one biggest mistake I see people make when it comes to buying new games. Once you purchase a game digitally, you as a consumer are now locked into that purchase. Frequently people will buy games they’re interested in and either finish them too quickly or just end up not enjoying them as much as they thought they would. This is by far the easiest way to waste your money. Instead, what you should do is purchase physical copies of your games and put them up on craigslist once you’re finished with them. Depended on the current demand of the game, you could potentially collect anywhere from 30-45 dollars back after selling a game on craigslist. This would mean that you are spending $20 bucks for a game as opposed to $60 saving upwards to around 40 dollars. And also never trade-in your games to Gamestop. The MAXIMUM you will get for a new game is usually around 30 bucks as opposed to 40-45 on Craigslist.
So there you have it. Do your research, save an easy five bucks and avoid the pre-order bonuses, and try to resist the temptation to purchase games at launch. If you miss the initial discussion of the game online or for whatever reason loses interest in the game, wait for the price to drop or buy it used. And if you absolutely must own a game on day one, purchase only physical copies of them. Being able to sell games back will save you a substantial amount of money. Follow these quick and easy tips and you will be well on your way to playing all of the biggest titles of the year without having to worry about shilling at a ton of cash.