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How to Buy Cheap Video Games

Updated on February 21, 2017
davidlivermore profile image

David is an avid video gamer across multiple platforms such as PC, consoles, handheld devices, and mobile phones.

A typical console gamer's setup.
A typical console gamer's setup. | Source

How much do you spend on video games per month?

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Buying Video Games on a Budget

New video games across multiple platforms get released on a daily basis. It's almost impossible to keep track of all of the games being released. It's also easier to get video games than ever before. Not only can you go to the store and buy them, you can have them mailed directly to you, or even downloaded directly to your system. Some store websites allow you to keep your credit card information on file, making it easier to buy games without a thought as to the cost involved.

Even if you had all of the time in the world to play video games, you wouldn't be capable to play each one that has been released. This article could go on about how to plan a budget to afford the games you want, but it's not about having enough money. It's about long term planning in picking the system that will have the best and most affordable games for you.

The Nintendo Wii, Microsoft Xbox 360, and the Sony Playstation 3.
The Nintendo Wii, Microsoft Xbox 360, and the Sony Playstation 3. | Source
TV and speakers are essential for console games.
TV and speakers are essential for console games. | Source

Pros and Cons of a Console Video Game System

New games are always coming out, giving you a variety to enjoy.
Not enough time to play all of the games that can be released on a console.
Can play with your friends depending on the game.
Due to how many games that can be released on a console, can end up spending a lot of money.
Consoles are built using the same hardware, so bugs are almost non-existent in games.
If the system breaks, it's hard to repair on your own, requiring you to buy a replacement.
Can trade-in video games for cash or for credit towards other games.
Risk that the next generation of consoles won't play the games from your system.
Some consoles also have the ability to play movies, browse the web, and offer other services.
Can lose or damage the video game itself, requiring you to buy a replacement.
Can trade-in console for a larger credit towards another video game system.
Most console games don't have a demo you can try before buying the video game.
Can rent video games to play, eliminating the need to buy new games.
Some games are made exclusively for systems, which may not be the one you have.
Can buy and download older titles to play.
Hard to take system to play elsewhere.

Video Game Console Systems

Video game console systems are one of the more common systems out there. The long reigning champions in the console market are Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony. Buying a console system can be an agonizing choice to make, as there are multiple choices. The affordable way to pick a system is to research what games are on the system, and make your choice based on that. Some games get published across multiple systems as well.

Below are the various costs you can expect when purchasing a console system:

  • Video Game Console - Buying a brand new system can cost hundreds of dollars, with used systems costing about 1/3rd less. Required to play video games.
  • Video Games - Obviously you will need video games to play on the system. New games can be as high as $60, with collectors editions being much higher. However, if you buy used games or wait a long time to buy new games, the prices become much cheaper. Plus you can download games.
  • Peripherals - Some console systems have special devices required to play the game, which may be included in the price of the game as bundle. Otherwise, you may have to buy your own, like a headset.
  • Strategy Guides - A lot of console video games have strategy guides. Most of these can be under $20 each. They are not required to play the game, but sometimes can help. Of course, if you have access to the internet, you can find the information you need on a game for free.
  • TV - Necessary to play the console games on. Cost depends on how good of TV you want. The bigger and better the TV, the more it'll cost.
  • Sound System - This is optional, as most TV's have built in speakers. But to get the most out of your console system, you'll want to buy a sound system.
  • Internet Connection - Some games play better if you are online, so you can play against or with other players. While this isn't required, it's nice to have. Most people have this, but if you want a fast connection to get the most out of your games, then you'll need to spend more money. Some consoles require a monthly fee to play games through their network.

A handheld gaming device.
A handheld gaming device. | Source

Pros and Cons of a Handheld Video Game System

Cheaper than a console system.
Requires the system be charged with power.
Can take the system with you to play anywhere.
If system dies, will have to be fully replaced.
Able to rent games to play, saving the cost of buying new games.
Graphics not as impressive as console games.
Can trade-in games to put towards new games or for cash.
Small screen size.
Just like a console system, can trade in a handheld system for a larger credit.
Sound may not be as good as console games.
Some console games ported over to handheld systems.
May require another system to play with friends.

Handheld Video Game Systems

Handheld video game systems, such as the Nintendo 3DS, are popular since you can take them everywhere you go. They have all that you need to play a game. However the screen is much smaller and the sound may not be as powerful as it is on a console gaming system. The choices on handheld video game systems aren't as diverse as the console systems, making the choice easier as well.

However, there are some costs that you can expect to pay when considering a handheld system:

  • Handheld System - The cost won't be as excessive as a console system, unless you go for a specially designed package with all the trimmings. While some are designed to have other functions, they are mostly used for gaming.
  • Video Games - Again, you need video games to play on the handheld system. The costs won't be as bad as on console gaming systems, but since the devices are mobile, you may find yourself going through games faster since they can be shorter. Downloadable games are also possible.
  • Peripherals - These aren't as plentiful as the console gaming systems, but a good set of ear buds would be nice. Some of these devices come with a mic and a camera.
  • Strategy Guides - Even though not as plentiful as console games, strategy guides are also available for games found on handheld systems.
  • Internet Connection - Some games allow for play online, and while not as demanding as console systems, it can enhance the experience.

A mobile tablet with various applications and games.
A mobile tablet with various applications and games. | Source

Pros and Cons of a Mobile Device Video Game System

Wide variety games available.
Monthly fee of cell phone plan.
Games can be cheaper than any other system.
Battery life is not as long as a handheld system.
If using a cell phone, can also make calls.
Depend on device, screen size can be smaller than handheld.
Better warranties for mobile devices, for an additional cost.
Sound may not be as good on a handheld.
Wide variety of mobile devices to choose from.
Lots of apps with micro-transactions.
A lot of popular social games available.
Some games require constant playing at regular intervals.

Mobile Phones and Tablets

With advances in cell phone and tablet technology, mobile devices (such as the Apple iPad and iPhone) have become a world player in video gaming. Most everyone carries some sort of cell phone now a days, and the technology has become powerful enough to play some advance video game software.

However, there are some costs involved in considering using a mobile phone or tablet as your video game system:

  • Cell Phone - Some of the most advanced cell phones on the market can cost even more than a console gaming system. There are ways to make it cheaper, but that leads to my next point.
  • Cell Phone Plan - Your cell phone plan can be quite expensive, and can go up with little or no notice. But it also doubles as your phone, so it's something you may need to have anyways.
  • Tablets - These can be even more expensive than a cell phone, without the capability to call people conventionally. There are data plans available for these devices as well. The advantage of these is that they offer a bigger screen size.
  • Video Games - You can find games that are free to play, all the way up to over $20. There is also the ability to download other software onto your phone as well, not just video games. There are also games that have micro-transactions, allowing you to buy additional things in the game. This can really drain money, and is slowly becoming the industry standard.
  • Internet Connection - Some games require network access. While your provider may have enough of a network for some games, an internet connection may be required for network heavy games.

A typical gaming computer setup.
A typical gaming computer setup. | Source
Can build your own computer, saving costs.
Costs the most of any of the other gaming systems.
Can do more than just play computer games.
Hardware becomes outdated, requiring replacement.
Lapstops can almost be as strong, allowing games to be played anywhere.
May have technical issues and bugs not found in the other systems.
A large variety of games to be found on the PC market.
Usually has no trade-in value.
If a piece of hardware breaks, can replace it instead of the entire system.
With the amount of games and MMO's available, can spend the most out of any of the other systems.
Games available exclusively for the PC.
Some console games not made or designed for the PC.

Computer Games

PC games provide a unique experience for gamers. Some of the more popular games are massively multiplayer online (MMO) games, allowing millions of people to play at the same time. There are also some games that are uniquely released for computers only, and not available on any of other system.

Computer games aren't for everyone though. The costs for computers and the games for them can be higher than any of the other systems available on the market. Also, you would want to focus on the Windows operating system, as the most games are available on that OS. The costs you would incur when purchasing a PC would be:

  • Computer - For a high end computer you are looking at spending a few thousand dollars. But you don't need something top of the line unless you want to play the latest and greatest games released at the highest settings. However, the computer will be able to do more than just play games, so would be worth the investment.
  • Monitor - Some computer systems come with a monitor, some don't. The bigger you go, the better. Expect to spend a few hundred dollars on this. Or you can hook up your computer to your TV.
  • Speakers - You can use the speakers that may come with your system, but it's recommended you buy a set with a sub or surround sound.
  • Video Games - While demos and free games can be found to play on your computer, the best games cost money. Plus some have micro transactions and subscription fees.
  • Internet Connection - Just like all of the other systems this is something that is usually required for online gaming. This is especially important for MMO games.
  • Peripherals- There are some fancy accessories that can go with your computer. There are multi-function keyboards and mice that enhance the gaming experience. Plus a headset to talk to other players. Lastly, virtual reality is becoming a big thing, which can be costly.


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Budgeting for Video Games

Once you buy a system, you have to determine what games you should buy. You would hate to purchase a game only to find you don't like it, thus wasting money. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Purchase in the genre you like. Like fighting games? Then stick mostly to those. Like games where you progress through a story and level up characters? Then buy RPGs. If you stick to genres you know you like, you'll save money in the long run by playing the games you like longer.
  • Play demos. Some games have demos you can download and try on your system. This will give you a taste of the game to see if you like it or not.
  • Rent your games. Some companies, such as Gamefly, allow you to rent games and then return them when you want. By far this is the best way to save money since you won't be buying games. The best part is that if you do want to keep the game, most times you get a discounted price for it.
  • Trade-in or sell your games. Once you are done with a game, sell it or trade it in. Use that credit towards a new game, which will lower the price and save you some money.
  • Sell your in-game items. Some games allow you to sell your in-game items for real world money or credit towards other games. EVE Online, for example, allows you to buy monthly game time with the credits you earn in game. Just ensure the game allows this before you attempt to do it!
  • Write what you know. Want to earn some money writing about video games? Then do so! Places like Hubpages, Textbroker, etc. help you earn money for your experience. You can even become a professional video gamer.
  • Find a way to get a discount. If you work for a store that sells games, or know someone that does, then use that to get a discount on all of your game purchases.
  • Buy used games. Buying a used game is cheaper than buying a brand new game. The chances of the game failing are minimal, and this gives you more bang for your buck.
  • Don't buy games right away. New games are always as expensive as possible when first released. So wait for the price to drop before you purchase the game, even if you have to wait.
  • Read the reviews. Before buying a game, read what the experts think about it. Don't just stick to one review magazine or website, choose a variety so you have a fair assessment.
  • Wait for sales. Steam sells PC games at huge discounts during their Summer and Winter sales. To counter that, other companies also have their own sales. These sales are almost guaranteed to happen, so it's worth waiting for.


How many video game systems do you own?

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Spend What You Can Afford on Video Games

Don't buy multiple systems unless you can buy games across all of those systems. If you have a limited budget, then focus on one system only and purchase games for only that system. Sure, you may miss out on some choice titles on another system. But chances are there are some good titles that are only available on the system you decided to purchase.

Lastly, keep in mind that you probably don't have time to play games on multiple gaming systems, so only buy as many you have time to play.


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    • adevwriting profile image

      Arun Dev 23 months ago from United Countries of the World

      Good information! Have to bookmark this page. Voted up

    • Jeremy Gill profile image

      Jeremy Gill 2 years ago from Louisiana

      Definitely agree with the "don't buy video games right away" point. Doing so might make you a little behind on current gaming, but simply waiting a couple years really helps you afford games. Nice job!

    • Bobski606 profile image

      Bobby 4 years ago from U.K

      Wow, this is a really comprehensive hub about gaming. I've recently been getting into console gaming and I've noticed that the amount I spend each month can vary greatly depending on which consoles I'm buying for and how many games I'm buying at the time. I'll have to keep this guide in mind when it comes to pay day this month.

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