Games are expensive, which is an unfortunate fact. Whether you’re a PC gamer or a console player, getting hold of games for a reasonable price — as opposed to an inflated release day premium — is always important. But here’s the thing: in a good year, it’s impossible to buy every top game on release day and play them through.
So it makes sense to buy strategically, perhaps one or two titles, and pick up the others a bit later. After all, there’s simply no financial reason for you to own a game you’ve never played. But where will you find the games you missed out on?
The answer, of course, is the web. By looking at the right websites and marketplaces, you’ll be able to grab those top titles you missed out on a few months ago, for far less than the original price.
1. The Obvious Choices: eBay and Amazon
If you haven’t already checked eBay or Amazon, now is the time to do so. It’s surprising just how low prices can get on these online stores, often due to lack of interest.
At the time of writing, 2015’s Call of Duty: Black Ops III for the PlayStation 3 was selling on eBay for just £3.72 (around $5) with 23 minutes to go before the auction closed. Buying the same game used on Amazon, meanwhile, would set you back $13 (or as little as $1.90 from third-party sellers). While both are cheaper than the standard $20 price tag for an older game (with a $59.99 launch price), the clear winner is you.
The main rule here is to shop around between the two stores. Some games can be picked up on Amazon or eBay for just a few dollars without the challenge of trying to win an auction (although sniping tools might help here). It’s also important to take your time finding the game you want. Some weeks it might be incredibly popular (perhaps inspired by the release of a sequel, movie tie-in, or similar) whereas in others, you could be the only bidder or buyer. Save money by not rushing in until you’re certain the price matches your expectations for the title.
2. Swap With Friends
This might come as a surprise, but it is possible to swap your games with friends and family members. While modern games often require some form of account creation and login — often linked to DRM — this doesn’t necessarily preclude you from playing something that has already been completed by your best friend, or sister.
Indeed, there is a good chance that you have both got a good collection of games. Swapping titles for a few weeks so that you both get the chance to play the same games makes sense. You might even extend the swap among three or more friends, for even more gaming fun!
3. Online Gaming Store Sale Items
A few years ago, you would have been able to exchange your old games with players around the world, via a bunch of dedicated websites. These have almost all closed, but a few survived by pivoting into standard online gaming stores.
Few stores selling used games have resisted the temptation to branch out into stocking new titles. One that hasn’t is Lukie Games, which sells consoles, accessories, and games. Using the example above for Call of Duty: Black Ops III on the PS3, buying this title at Lukie Games would set you back $24.97.
And, of course, standard online gaming stores almost certainly buy and sell used games. These are usually separate from the rest of the site (for instance, GameStop uses the Pre-Owned menu heading) and group hardware and games together.
Other examples include:
Now, you probably have your personal favorite online store for buying games. It would be churlish of us to recommend one over another, so just head to the one you prefer and look through the pre-owned list. Compare the prices with Amazon or eBay, or the other suggestions on this page, and make your decision.
4. Online Thrift Stores and Directories
Taking the “used” term to its logical conclusion, you should be able to find plenty of used games at online thrift stores. Examples abound, and these manage to persist despite the success of eBay and Amazon.
One such example is AtOncer, which has a games category. Here, you’ll find used video games listed alongside board games.
Not to overlook another well-known name in online shopping, you might also find what you’re looking for on Craigslist. As ever, take all necessary precautions when using that service to buy, sell, or communicate.
5. Rent, Don’t Buy
While you won’t own them, renting gives you the opportunity to play a game for a short period without the massive outlay that a brand-new purchase brings. But can you still rent games?
Yes, you can! Whether online or off, video game rentals still exist. Rental is available either in the form of streaming via services, like Gamefly, or physical media from popular services, such as Gamerang.
When looking for a physical rental service, look for one with a low (or free) subscription, minimal/no late fees, and if possible, free shipping. Our look at video game rentals will give you more information.
6. Get Your Used Games via Mobile Apps
There are several mobile apps that make it easy for you to get hold of old games. Some even let you sell your own unloved titles for extra funds. The reputations of such apps are mixed, however. As with many services, different people have varying, and developing, expectations.
Take Gameflip: Buy & Sell, for instance. Available free on Android and iPhone/iPad, this social-focused, game-selling arena is loved by many. But the recent incursion of Pokemon Go-related gift cards and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has turned away many long-term users.
However, with patience, Gameflip can put you in touch with the seller of the game you’re looking for.
7. Other Places to Find Cheap Games
These tricks should put you in good stead to get ahold of used games. And remember, if it’s just low-cost games you’re looking for, PC gamers will find plenty of discounted titles on Steam. Looking for older titles? Try GOG. Google Play regularly has sales, and the Amazon App Store has an entire Amazon Underground section dedicated to free or cheap titles.
And then there’s the Humble Bundle, which offer games collections on a pay-what-you-want deal for charity. Usually these are PC games, but from time to time console titles appear.
Where do you pick up used games? Is there a great trick for buying used games online for as little as possible that you can share with other readers? Tell us your secret below!
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