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Gaming Broke: A Guide To Less Expensive Gaming

Updated on August 2, 2011

Playing video games can be a difficult hobby to afford. With the average price per game ranging from $35 to $60, gamers often have to be very fickle when choosing a game to purchase. Adding the cost of a console, controllers, and other gaming peripherals, playing video games can become a considerable investment. However, one doesn't have to spend hundreds of dollars to experience the joy of playing video games. The following is a collection of low cost strategies to help you get back in the game...

1. Save up for the games you really want. Although it may be tempting to play every major release game when it first comes out, more likely than not you will end up forgetting about and never playing most of them again. Instead of acting on impulse, spend your hard earned money on the games you know you'll want to play for years to come. You can always come back for the rest once enough time has passed for a price drop or a sale.

2. Rummage through those "Used" bins. Many game retailers such as GameStop, EB Games, and Play N Trade offer discounted rates on pre-owned video games. If one such retailer isn't located in your area, try a local used book/media store. Many often carry a reasonable selection of used games for equal (if not better) value than the larger chain retailers.

3. Trade in old games. While your chances of getting a better return on your old titles may fare higher with online auctions such as Ebay, trading in games to the previously mentioned retailers (see #2) is a faster, and sometimes more reliable, way of cashing in your old games. You might only get a third or less of what you originally paid for them, but sometimes it is better to cut your losses than let stubborn pride force you keep a game you have no intention of ever playing again.

4. Try it before you buy it. If you are uncertain about buying a particular game, it might be better to rent it or play a demo version before making the big decision. Many titles can be checked out at various rental stores across nation, usually for about $5 a piece. Some online services, such as Gamefly, also allow unlimited game rentals for a reasonable monthly fee, without the worry of late charges.

If you want to sample a game instead, free playable demos are available through Sony's, Nintendo's, and Microsoft's respective online marketplaces, as well as through other online gaming services. For those that don't have an internet connection, many gaming magazines are packaged with playable demo discs, and Nintendo DS Download stations can be found in various retail stores.

5. Check for sales. Some retailers, such as Toy's R Us and GameStop, occasionally feature BOGO (Buy One, Get One) sales on games and their accessories. Unfortunately, these types of sales only occur a small number of times throughout the year, and usually last for no more than one or two days at any given time. You can find out about these and other in-store deals by subscribing to game retailer emails and newsletters, checking online news feeds, or even by looking in the local paper for ads.

Many exceptional deals can be found online as well. Steam, an online gaming download service, often advertises weekend sales where you can download select titles for greatly reduced prices, occasionally selling them for as much as 75% off, or even for free. If you're looking for sales on PC/Mac and console games, is a user contributed site which seeks out all the best video game sales advertised by both on and offline merchants.

6. Play more indie games. Many independent video game developers offer their games at bargain bin costs, or often allow them to be played for free. Such games can usually be purchased for $5 or less through most consoles' online marketplaces and other download services, or can be found on the developers' websites. A personal favorite of mine, Spelunky, is a retro-style, cavern-exploring adventure, which can be downloaded for free on Spelunky World. For a taste of user-generated games, many original flash games can be played on Newgrounds.

7. Play For Free Online. For fans of the MMO genre (Massive Multiplayer Online), there are numerous games that feature a free-to-play option. Big title games such as Lord of the Rings Online, Dungeons and Dragons Online, and more recently Everquest II: Extended (currently in open beta), all offer free basic play, with options to upgrade to premium content for a fee at a later time. Additionally, there are many independent developers that are releasing new free-to-play MMO's every day, with gameplay to satisfy hardcore and casual gamers alike. Free MMO Gamer and are great places to find information about different free-to-play MMO's, and sites such as Facebook, Nexon, and Aeria Games offer an extensive library of 2D and 3D MMO's free of subscription costs.

8. (Optional Step) Understandably, a small portion of those who read this list will say that the obvious solution is to play less video games. For those that agree, narrowing your focus down to a few games, or playing for shorter sessions is a perfectly healthy and acceptable approach to gaming, and may even increase the quality of your gameplay. For everyone else, the rest of the list is for you. Happy gaming!


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    • Kaie Arwen profile image

      Kaie Arwen 7 years ago

      Not one of my vices.............. but, I know people who can use this......... I'll forward! Thank you! Kaie