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How to Save Money on Video Games

Updated on August 13, 2012

You'll Never Pay Full Price Again!

The gaming industry is booming; with innovative design and state of the art graphics, who wouldn't want to sit down and enjoy the brilliant creations of hard-working developers? At this day in age, however, there are tons of options out there (and you want them all!) Perhaps you're a college student trying to save money to pay for education, a parent trying to keep up with the demands of your children, or just somebody who enjoys gaming when you have a moment to relax. You want to save money, but you don't want the amount you spend to reflect upon the quality of the games you play. Cheap video games are easy to find, and I'd like to share a few of my strategies with you.

Choosing Your System

One of the most important steps in video gaming is to choose your system. Perhaps you already have a console or two in your house, but there are always other options to consider. For example, a young audience may be attracted to the Nintendo Wii because it has a reputation for making games that both children and adults can enjoy. The Xbox 360 and PS3 became popular choices to those who love games such as Halo or God of War. And let's not forget about the good old PC, which can provide gaming as well as education and useful tools. If you don't have a console and are looking to purchase one, I urge you to do research on the types of games you can buy with each one. Some games are unique to one system, but others are universal. Here's a rundown of each system, including my thoughts on each.

Nintendo Wii

The Wii is a system that is great for family gatherings and light play. It is easy to pick up and very user friendly. Its motion-sensitive controls give you an experience unlike any other console. Like every other system, it features a unique set of award-winning games that cannot be found on any other console. If you're a fan of Mario, Star Fox, and Metroid, this system might be for you. You will also have access to retro games such as Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. The Wii has online capabilities, but many games require a unique "Friend Code" if you want to play with someone you know. The Wii also has access to applications such as Netflix (membership required), but lacks DVD support that other consoles provide.

Xbox 360

The Microsoft Xbox 360 is a system geared toward more experienced gamers that want a challenge. Many gamers buy an Xbox with the intent of playing games online, but you'll have to pay a fee to get on the internet with this console. The Xbox is the only system that can't connect to the internet directly through your router, so you'll have to become a member of Xbox Live to play online. That being said, no other developer boasts the famed Halo series, so if that's what you're after, Microsoft is your only choice. Much like the Wii, the Xbox features services such as Netflix. It is also compatible with CDs and DVDs, so you won't need a stereo or a DVD player in your room if you have the 360.

Playstation 3

Sony's PS3 originally entered the market with the highest price tag of the trio of consoles; a whopping $600, and for good reason. Sony really impressed me with the PS3 capabilities. It has all of the applications you can get on the Wii and 360, online membership is free, and it's easy to connect to your friends. The PS3 can play CDs, DVDs, and Blu-Ray discs. You can currently get a PS3 for around the same price as an Xbox 360, and I highly recommend this over the other consoles. I own all three consoles discussed, and I was most impressed with the PS3 even though I've owned it for the shortest period of time. Finding the console for you is purely personal preference. Though PS3 may be my favorite of the three consoles, in my opinion, it still sits in the shadow of the highly overlooked PC.

PC Gaming

Although you may encounter some pricey start up costs, PC gaming has proven to be the best way to save money without endangering the quality of the gameplay. With games ranging from sports to shooters and kids to adults, PC gaming has something for everyone. If the multitude of free gaming sites aren't enough to quell your needs, there are many game download stores that sell games for a discount. I commonly buy games through Steam and Amazon (more on these later.) You might argue that a PC is too expensive for games, but chances are, you're going to get a new computer sometime in the future. If you happen to add gaming specs to an average laptop, costs are minimized so you can use the computer for gaming and for any other purpose you might need it for. I play video games on my computer more than I do any other system, and I save hundreds of dollars doing so.

Steam

Playing Games Can Get You Games

Alright, so you caved in and bought an expensive PC. It can do anything from writing letters to tell you the meaning of life. But how do you actually save money? Oftentimes, I find myself buying games from Steam, a gaming cloud which offers thousands of games and a new sale item every day. Steam also hosts promotions in which it slices the price of top-selling games such as Call of Duty, Skyrim, and more! Steam also offers many updates to games for free, so if you were looking for that new map on Left 4 Dead 2, you don't actually have to pay Microsoft to give it to you. Steam updates your games in real-time, so as soon as an update is available, it will start downloading.

Did you know, playing games can get you games? The Steam Inventory feature allows players to hold unplayed games and trade them among friends. In addition to that, games such as Team Fortress 2, Dota 2, and Super Monday Night Combat have items that can be stored in a player's Steam Inventory and traded. So if you stumble across that rare item everybody wants, you can trade it for a game. I'll say that again: you can trade items in a video game for video games. Due to the sheer number of people on Steam and the great deals offered daily, games are just another unit of trade on Steam. In fact, I've become so rich on Team Fortress 2, I rarely buy games with my own money anymore; I just use the profit I make in-game to trade for games I want. Sounds like fun, right? But Steam is jut the beginning of your money-saving journey...

Other Download Stores

Amazon, Impulse, and More!

Everyone with a computer and a keen eye for cheap prices knows about Amazon.com. But did you know they offer a game download service featuring prices much lower than what the disc costs? If you are a PC gamer, you can compare prices between Steam, Amazon, and Impulse to find the best download deal. I have an account on all three, and I save hundreds of dollars on video games every year. I can buy what I want and still have enough money to put myself through college. You can also keep an eye out for free games, as downloadable versions of your favorite games are much less expensive to distribute than the hard copies. Gamestop hosted a promotion before the release of the Darksiders II and gave away 10,000 free copies of the first Darksiders. I was lucky enough to be one of the many lucky winners, and I was emailed the code so I could redeem my game. Deals such as this happen often and across the internet, so conduct a search on your own and see what you can find!

But I'm Not a PC Gamer, Don't Forget Me!

I haven't forgotten about you, and I know of several ways to get the games you want cheap! In the past, you've resorted to buying used games from Gamestop to get your discounts and scratched-to-heck games, but that's about to change (Gamestop is overpriced anyway.) As I mentioned earlier, Amazon is a great store to shop for games. Though the downloadable PC games are typically cheaper, you can buy a hard copy of the game you're looking for at a discount, and this is especially useful for buying Wii/360/PS3 games. When comparing these prices to the retail value in stores like Wal Mart, Best Buy, and Target, you're obviously better off with Amazon. You even get free shipping if you pay over $25 on eligible items. But of course, Amazon is not the only online store that offers good sales.

Think back about 10 years... I bet you almost forgot about eBay! If you don't do a little shopping on eBay, you're really missing out on some great opportunities. I just recently bought my first game on eBay. I bought a mostly new copy of a PS3 game (no scratches on the disc) for just a fraction of the price that the cheapest retail store offered me. This online retailer offers you tons of information about the product you're buying, the seller and his/her reputation, and overwhelmingly specific search criteria to limit your results to exactly what you want. The possibilities are endless, and new items are added every day!

When Should I Buy Games from the Local Store?

Whether you're partial to Best Buy, Gamestop, or another physical store, there is a time and a place to capitalize on a good deal. It's called Black Friday. Don't underestimate stores on this frantic shopping morning; you can snag some really great deals that the flyer omitted. I distinctly remember one Black Friday morning as I was pushing through crowds at my local Target store, I happened across a brand new Wii game for just $7. That game wasn't in the flyer, and I treated myself to this game without a second thought. Many great Black Friday deals can also be found online, so if you're not a morning person, never fear! Technology saved your butt again. And you got your beauty sleep, too (not that you needed it!)

In all honesty, the ONLY times I buy games from my local store are on Black Friday and when I run into $5 clearances. If you have a smartphone, you can look up a game on Amazon or eBay, and you'll likely find a cheaper price elsewhere. So stop bothering that Wal Mart guy to open up the game case for you. Wait until Black Friday when they're open for everyone, and capitalize on a great opportunity to buy games at a fiscally responsible price!

Contact Me

I love to hear your thoughts about my work. How can I improve? Did I miss something important? Please leave a comment below and let me know if I was any help to you. I will do my best to answer questions about any specific part of the article, and I will use my experience to get you started on the right foot. Thank you for reading, and I hope I saved you lots!

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    • profile image

      florin87 4 years ago

      Great lens

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      Shane 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      @ImmatureEntrepr: Thanks again!

    • ImmatureEntrepr profile image

      ImmatureEntrepr 5 years ago

      Really enjoyed reading your lens. Squid Angel blessed!