One of the most enjoyable hobbies that people have these days is playing video games. Whether it’s on a computer, a console or even your smartphone, there are plenty of ways to have a lot of fun regardless of what device you have. Be it a portable gaming powerhouse such as the Nintendo Switch or a dedicated machine at home such as a gaming computer, buying video games doesn’t come cheap. Retail prices for games can easily exceed $60, especially for triple-A titles such as the latest Call of Duty or Battlefield game.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to game for cheap. All over the world, there are frugal gamers that have never paid full price for a single video game. See those $40, $50 and $60 price tags for games? If you’re smart and patient, then you’ll never have to pay those exorbitant prices ever again. Let’s hold on to our wallets and take a dive into the lifestyle of the frugal gamer. Here are a bunch of tips to help you make gaming an affordable hobby with plenty of extra cash for the Mountain Dew and Doritos needed to fuel your gaming experience.
Sell Your Old Games
While this isn’t a way to get cheaper games, it’s a way to have more cash to afford games whenever you want to buy them. You can get money for your video games by looking at online services that are dedicated to buying and selling used games. Alternatively, you could look at eBay or sell locally through Craigslist, but you tend to get a more consistent service by selling to a well-known business or store.
Although you might be sad to see your games go, keep in mind that most stores will take any and every game—including all those copies of FIFA and Madden that you have laying around. Old versions of Call of Duty still fetch a decent price, and they usually pay a lot for retro games from the 16-bit era.
Another fantastic advantage to selling your games is being able to re-purchase them as digital versions or enhanced editions. For instance, if you still own old copies of Uncharted for the PS3, then why not sell them off and buy Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection instead? Instead of having several boxes that take up space on your shelf or storage, you can simply have one upgraded version for a low price.
If you’re a PC gamer, then you might already use the Steam platform for purchasing and downloading digital games. What you might not know is that plenty of games on Steam have tradeable items that can be sold for money on your Steam wallet. Most games award you with trading cards in your Steam inventory that can be sold for anywhere between $0.10 and $5.00 per card. Although it’s not much, it encourages you to play a variety of games to collect these trading cards.
Additionally, there are Steam trading websites where gamers can trade extra copies of games for money, Steam items, or even Steam keys that are used to unlock special loot crates in games such as Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Team Fortress 2. You could get games for ridiculously low prices through trading if you look around.
If you’re a console gamer, then look in your local video game store for trade-in deals. In some cases, you can trade in a few of your old games and get a massive discount on newly released titles. This might not seem like a great deal considering you could get a little more cash by selling the games directly to other people, but it is a quick and easy way to declutter your gaming shelf and get new games for a much lower price without dealing with transaction hassles.
There are dozens of online stores that sell bundled games, the most popular being Humble Bundle. They periodically compile games that could be anything from triple-A titles from well-known publishers to indie games that you’ve never heard of into. They’re then sold via a “pay what you want” pricing scheme, meaning you can essentially pay $1 for the games if you wanted to. However, the more you pay, the more games you unlock. It’s not uncommon to see massive savings of up to $200 from buying the highest tier, and any games you already own can be given away to friends and family.
Humble Bundle also has a monthly bundle that costs just $12 per month. It comes with a curated bundle of games that totals over $100 in value, giving you savings of around $88 every month on video games. The games never repeat, and there’s always a popular title included in each bundle such as Rocket League, ARK Survival Evolved or Stellaris. The only disadvantage to Humble Bundle is that it’s only for PC, although they do have mobile gaming bundles now and then. There is an alternative for Playstation owners known as Playstation Plus which also enables online play and further discounts on Sony’s online store.
Included DLC Editions
Downloadable content is both a blessing and a curse on the gaming industry. Day one DLCs have become a blight for many gamers, but it’s undeniable that some downloadable content, such as the excellent Dark Souls 3 expansions, can be worth every penny. Unfortunately, the cost can be fairly high if you buy the DLC releases individually. To remedy this, consider buying the Season Pass as soon as it’s on sale or if it’s available for a game that you enjoy.
However, it’s also important to know when the DLC just isn’t worth it. Many JRPGs contain “DLC” that are just extra items to make the game easier for the player. For instance, the Hyperdimension Neptunia Rebirth games on Playstation Vita and PC contain a lot of extra DLC that adds bonus items when you start a new game. These don’t add much value to the game outside of making the game easier and you don’t miss any additional content. There are rarely extra challenges, meaning that buying any additional DLC or a bundled “complete edition” is a waste of money. However, if you’re not sure if the DLC available contains new content, then it’s never a bad idea to ask a friend or consult Google.
Find Sellers on the Internet
There are many online websites dedicated to selling games for lower prices. There is, however, a gray area in these online markets. Most people that sell on these global marketplaces obtain the games through legal means, such as accidentally buying an extra copy or being given a gift of a game they already own. To make use of it, they simply sell it on a global marketplace in the form of a game key to unlock a digital copy.
These websites can sell games for incredibly low prices—sometimes as little as 10% of the original price. This is fantastic if you’re a gamer on a budget, but there is a catch. Many people (and developers) are discovering that large batches of keys are being bought by illegal means. The games that are being re-sold are either purchased with stolen credit cards or outright stolen from stores. For the marketplaces in question, it’s hard to determine whether a game code is stolen or not, which is why many people shy away from these websites.
If you aren’t completely comfortable with this moral gray area, then it’s best you stay away from these websites. However, if you’re just a gamer looking to buy their games for a lower price then, by all means, consider buying from a global gaming marketplace.
Wait For Sales
Lastly, you can simply just wait for sales. During holiday periods such as Summer and Christmas, online distribution platforms such as the Sony store and Steam host massive sales where games can see up to 90% decreases in their retail price. This is a fantastic time to stock up on new games or try out old games that you couldn’t afford in the past.
This is also when many game traders stock up on additional games on the Steam platform to use for trading purposes in the future. If you’re unsure whether you should wait for a sale or not, then take a look at websites such as Steam Prices to see what their prices used to be compared to now. These websites are constantly updated and can give you a fantastic idea on how much money you’ll save buying a game now versus waiting for a sale.
Knowledge is power when it comes to gaming on a budget and being patient with sales is the key to buying games under their retail price. Don’t spend too much money on video games because before you know it, you’re going to end up with no money in your wallet and many bills to pay. Utilize these strategies if you want to make huge savings, and learn the ways of the frugal gamer.