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Gaming On A Budget

Far too often consumers find themselves ill-prepared for the gaming typhoon that is the Fall. It comes every year, same time same place, but each time it does, the same people don’t know how to handle it. Well enough is enough! I’ve had it with these monkey fighting games in this monday-thru-friday Fall! Well, not really. But I’m going to show you my tips as a gamer and self proclaimed economist on how to get the most for you gaming dollar (or someone else’s).

The name of the game is getting the most gaming for your dollar. Whether it’s selling it, trading it, or using that GTA IV CE to plan a bank heist. Just make sure you’re playing that game and putting it back into rotation so you can keep that console warm.

Option #1: Buying it now

Getting it now – right right RIGHT now! Could this actually be better for your gaming budget than you think? Not if you can’t afford the game at the current time. But it might actually be better to buy that game you’re thinking of buying just to stave off boredom versus waiting for the time of year when the game you’ve been dreaming of is supposed to arrive. For one thing you’ll have something to play. If you’re one of those gamers who tends to play a game a solid couple hours a day, or knocks them out in a weekend then this is definitely the best route for you. Buy it now, and don’t trade it in – sell it. Odds are if you impulse bought it at launch there are going to be many willing to shave off $10 from the cost of their purchase for a like new copy. Amazon, Half.com, eBay, gaming forums, friends – all good alternatives to the game stores that will only offer you half value after you walk out the store.

Option #2: Buying it a little bit later

Chances are if the game is published by Sega, Ubisoft, or EA it’s going to have a deal about a month after it’s out. Scan some forums, keep an eye on the local ads and you could score yourself a hot title for $29.99-39.99 while it’s still being talked about. You may even be able to score a cheaper copy from those who took Option #1. This is your real gaming budget defense right here. Once you score a game cheap enough while it’s still in pretty good demand, you have more options with what to do with it later when those titles come out in Fall. More on this later.

Option #3: Bomba

There’s no feeling more rewarding than avoiding (and calling)  a bomba before it even releases. It’s a guilty habit, but one that you must learn to embrace if you’re going to keep money in your pocket. No sense in you wasting your cash after the Developer/Publisher wasted your time and their money. Buying a few of these as fodder games can help you put the dupe on trade in places when they start making their Hail Mary plays for their end of fiscal year profit boosts. Snag a few of these dirt cheap, play them, and then trade them in to shave off a considerable amount of cash off your dream game. You’ve spent the cash you would have used on that big title on a handful of Too Humans, got 30+ hours of gaming enjoyment (or not) from them and walked away with what you wanted to begin with.

Option #4: More of a creed than an option

DON’T FALL FOR THE COLLECTOR’S EDITIONS! Some times you can score one for extremely cheap. Back in 2007, due to a pricing error on Best Buy’s website, I snagged the Legendary Edition of Halo 3 for $70 – shipped. Woe had I paid the $60 more required. You can now find that bundle for around $30-50 online. The stores can’t sell them fast enough. And I know folks who bought two! Same with right now with the Modern Warfare 2 Prestige Edition. $150 for some goggles and a head stand. More often than not, I always get buyer’s remorse with my CE rather than a sense of pride from having a bigger bulge in my shopping bag when stepping out of the game store. It might not be an hour from purchase, or even while playing it, but when you see all that clutter in your room post mortem and you’re tossing it in the trash, it hits home.

Option #5: Renting

I don’t really recommend going to Blockbuster and renting a game unless they still offer something similar to Gamepass like they did back in the day. Renting a game without this monthly plan will run you about $10 for a seven day rental.  If you have Gamepass and you’re not lazy you can drive back there every few days and make them wish they didn’t offer it (maybe they don’t in your area so ha!) There’s also Gamefly, a slow and expensive process. You’re not very likely to get the game you want at the time it comes out. It could take a few weeks if you haven’t planned ahead. Sending the game you had out back while deleting everything you had in your queue so they don’t ship – hassle! It’s also not cheap, but if you’re willing to work the system it might be rewarding enough to keep it.

Don’t believe I talk the walk (wat)?

Most recently I traded in a handful of Bombas and got mucho dinero at Amazon, netting me a $50 gift card and a %50 off video game or accessory coupon. With this I plan to shave half off the cost of one of the many exciting Fall titles to be released. Many of which on Amazon have $10 coupons towards new purchases. Let’s do the math:

$50 Giftcard – Halo 3 ODST (%50 coupon applied) = $20 left over
$20 giftcard – Modern Warfare 2 ($10 coupon applied) = $30 cash at checkout (Plus another $10 coupon to use at a later date).

By using Bomba tactics, not only did I play a handful of good to mediocre games instead of being bored waiting for these games anyway, I got two new titles for $30. Deal Hunters ASSEMBLE! Cool and calculating. That’s how you have to be to keep gaming in these tough times. Word to your mortgage.

12 comments
Vivi
Vivi

I tend to just wait a reaaallly long time before buying a game.

Phaethon
Phaethon

There are definitely a few good spots to find FS on deals. Amazon, Newegg, Buy.com, but the majority of the deals in the past have required you to drop some extra dough. Luckily (or not) the economy has been forcing a lot more places to ship for free in their deals. Or at least that's how I correlate the increase in their appearance.

deftangel
deftangel

You have to pay for shipping? :) I guess there are some benefits to living in a small country :D Generally speaking, Amazon UK you have to pay for some outlets like ShopTo.net and Play.com don't charge at all.

Phaethon
Phaethon

There definitely are some. Nothing generally within the first few weeks. You may be able to get $5-10 off but then shipping negates any savings you would have.

Deftangel
Deftangel

No mention of free games? They're going to become more and more prevalent over the next two years :) Generally speaking, if you are committed gamer in the UK, there is no excuse for paying RRP for games. A £49.99 RRP game will typically be online for £39.99 and often less. Even at retail, supermarkets sell games at a discount as loss leaders to get people to shop there thus putting price pressure on traditional games stores. Of course that's not taking into account that £50 is almost $85 though but by way of example, my Halo 3: ODST pre-order is currently £29.95 which is $50. Are online discounts not really available so readily in the US then?

Czartim
Czartim

The Communist Plan still keeps you gaming, just with games that are older. That way you aren't wasting a lot of money on games you aren't positive you're going to like. Sure, you wont be able to take part in the discussion when it first comes out, but if that's what you want then you'll have to accept the fact that you'll be losing money on the deal. It all depends on the way you play games. Are you a completest or someone who plays a little and then moves on?

Phaethon
Phaethon

Yep. Been there so many times. But a backlog doesn't really serve me at this point anymore, at least one this sizable. There are a handful of games that I just have to own till I complete to satisfaction, but they're older titles so they don't necessarily apply to the same scrutiny as recent games in terms of value. But I can't tell you how helpful it's been to trade a high value game on goozex, grab a handful of older titles, play them, and then cash in on a 40%+ deal at Gamestop, walking out with a new game for under $10 out of pocket. No matter what you're going to spend that money, but getting the most gaming is what's important.

SimonM7
SimonM7

Excellent article. Some of these suggestions are awfully obvious but still need some spelling out. Just don't do what I used to do.. buy games, play half of them, sell them and then realise you kinda wanna finish them so you buy them again. I've bought so many games over and over until I figured that hey, perhaps finishing games is a good idea.

Phaethon
Phaethon

If you've already played and sold it by that time then you're in the clear. Hence there are five options, Tim's being #2 or 3. Goal of this article is to keep you gaming, not waiting on price drops while your consoles dust over.

Hollowman
Hollowman

Yeah, I agree with Tim. I hate when you hear a game hyped up on a gaming site/podast, and then after buying it, weeks later you hear them saying, "Well it wasn't that great." No feeling is worse than regretting an expensive purchase.

Phaethon
Phaethon

Yeah, but you live in Communist Russia.

Czartim
Czartim

Really, the best way is to A) Not go on gaming sites that hype up new releases. B) Wait a few months and find a deal on a game. Usually $20-$40. This way you can figure out which games were actually good, and which games were all buzz. The game trade-in system rarely works in your advantage. Whether it's Gamestop, Goosex, or Game Trader World. Eventually you'll lose money. Sure it's better than nothing, but if you really are looking to save money, the best bet is to wait.