6 Ways To Game On The Cheap [MUO Gaming]

Dave Parrack 03-01-2013

6 Ways To Game On The Cheap [MUO Gaming] mario classic video gamesPlaying video games isn’t the harmful activity some politicians and media outlets would have you believe, otherwise every single gamer out there would have psychological problems brought on by their hobby. However, playing video games is an expensive pastime to enjoy, with the price of games and the systems needed to play them potentially costing a small fortune over the course of just a few years.


Thankfully this doesn’t have to be the case. By employing a combination of patience, common sense, and technical knowhow it’s possible to game on the cheap. Or even, if you’re extremely savvy, for free. What follows are various methods known to bring down the price of playing video games, and by employing at least one of them you’re guaranteed to save money.

Buy Late

6 Ways To Game On The Cheap [MUO Gaming] games late collection

The recommended (or suggested) retail price of brand new video games is high, usually being $60 in the U.S. and comparatively more in other countries around the world. This may well be a fair price for a game, which will have been made by hundreds of people over a period of years, but it still hits gamers hard in the wallet or purse. Especially if said game is a dud, hence the need to read reviews 3 Video Game Review Sites You Must Look At Before Your Next Purchase Video game reviews are more important than a review of any other entertainment category. This is simply because video games cost a lot more than a movie or a CD. When you are trying to... Read More .

Although it’s tempting to buy a game as soon as it’s released, especially with online multiplayer adding a legitimate reason for doing so, it means the chances of snagging a bargain are non-existent. By waiting – weeks, months, or even years – the price will drop to a more reasonable level, even when the game is bought new.

Buy Used

6 Ways To Game On The Cheap [MUO Gaming] games used gameboy


Buying new is one option, but you can also buy used, especially when your system of choice has been on the market for a long time. The options are immense, from eBay and Amazon Marketplace, to high-street retailers and independent game shops, many will sell used games that are in perfect condition. The only thing to keep an eye out for is online elements that are only available to the original purchaser.

As well as buying used games you can also sell your games once you’ve squeezed every ounce of enjoyment out of them. If you time it well it’s possible to game for next to nothing, buying games just as their price falls, and selling them before it falls again. I’ve actually made money in this way, playing a game for a time before selling it at a profit.

Buy Online

6 Ways To Game On The Cheap [MUO Gaming] games online package

If you don’t want to buy used games, and aren’t willing to buy late, then at least head online before you part with your cash. As sad as it may be that bricks-and-mortar stores are struggling to compete, it isn’t hard to see why. The prices of products are generally lower when bought through online retailers, and video games are no exception.


The lack of overheads involved in selling through a website means a profit can still be made even with a vastly reduced asking price. Especially when the online retailer is of a size and stature that means they know they’ll sell a minimum number of any one product. Hence savings right from the start, and further reductions as a game ages.

Don’t Buy, Rent

6 Ways To Game On The Cheap [MUO Gaming] games rent envelopes

While some gamers will spend hundreds of hours completing each and every title they buy, many gamers play a game only as long as it’s entertaining. Which isn’t a significant amount of time where some games are concerned. It’s perfectly possible to squeeze 99% of the joy out of a title over the course of a single weekend.

If this is the case then renting is a feasible option. Blockbuster and its ilk may no longer be the force they once were, but there are still options for those who would rather rent games for short periods of time. Most of these are, inevitably, mail-based, with services such as GameFly GameFly Opens Digital Download Service For Subscribers [News] GameFly is essentially the Netflix of gaming (though the two have no official ties), and the company’s maneuverings have closely resembled that of its movie-oriented cousin. Offering some sort of online service similar to Netflix’s... Read More sending out games to its subscribers for a set monthly fee.


Enter The Cloud

6 Ways To Game On The Cheap [MUO Gaming] games cloud image

Cloud gaming, or gaming on demand The OnLive Cloud Gaming Revolution - A Faster, Easier Way To Game OnLive is a cloud gaming service that presents a truly unique way to access your favorite games. No longer are you forced to constantly upgrade - instead, you run the games in the cloud, and... Read More , is another alternative to buying a physical or digital copy of a game. You essentially subscribe to a service such as OnLive or Gaikai, and then stream games through the service to your computer or mobile device. With the games stored on the company’s servers, it’s possible to play high-end games on low-end machines.

There are some caveats to using a cloud gaming service. For starters the selection of games is limited, so you likely won’t be able to play the latest and greatest releases. You’ll also need a fast Internet connection with high (or preferably, zero) usage limits. If these issues aren’t a problem then gaming on demand could be the way forward for you.

Play Free, Online

6 Ways To Game On The Cheap [MUO Gaming] games free sign


Last but not least is the option to play completely for free online. This is the best option for gamers with absolutely no money to waste, but the experience can be mixed to say the least. There are a range of options for playing free online 5 Places To Play Console Games In Your Browser For Free [MUO Gaming] We all would like our games to be free, but they rarely are. Even consoles can be expensive. Throwing peripherals and extras can quickly turn a $200 console into a $400 one. Wouldn’t it be... Read More , with official offerings such as Core Online Play Free Online Video Games With ‘Core Online’ From Square Enix [MUO Gaming] Gaming can be an expensive hobby, whatever your system of choice may be. The games are cheaper on PC, but keeping your rig up to speed in order to play the latest titles can burn... Read More competing with the legally-questionable emulators and ROMs.

Be warned that once you head down this route it’s hard to climb back out of the deep rabbit hole, and you’ll likely resent paying for a game ever again. You may also find that sourcing a game for free makes it less enjoyable, so only gamers of a certain persuasion should make the jump. For those with a love of retro games and a desire for saving money playing free online is the ultimate way to game on the cheap.


It’s very easy to get stuck in a rut of doing what you have always done with a particular hobby or interest. But as this article shows there are often alternatives worth exploring, particularly if you need/want to save money. If you follow this advice then gaming will become a much more affordable pastime than you may currently think of it as being.

Do you use any of the methods outlined above? Has it saved you money while still allowing you to be a dedicated gamer? Do you have any other tips for gaming on the cheap that you’d like to share with the rest of the MakeUseOf readership? As always we’d love to hear from you, so feel free to leave a comment below.

Image Credits: emilydickinsonridesabmx, Alberto…, Seth Werkheiser, William Christiansen, Jay Reed, Karin Dalziel, Andre Ribeirinho

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  1. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    January 5, 2013 at 2:39 am

    Emulator, definitely. It may be legally questioned, but it's nice to preview games before you decide to buy or playing games of yesterday.

  2. Félix S. De Jesús
    January 4, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    One word, EMULATORS... xD

  3. Kevin
    January 4, 2013 at 4:07 am

    Just to add: if you are a PC gamer, there is also the option of F2P (free-to-play) games.

  4. Prateek Kumar Rajput
    January 3, 2013 at 11:43 pm

    You missed Torrent and ancient Media Download sites like Mediafire..

  5. Prateek Kumar Singh
    January 3, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    You missed Torrent.

  6. Kevin C.
    January 3, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    I figured it was worth adding the fact that some library's are renting out games now. I'm not sure how many of them have made the jump but my local public library has quite a few PS3, 360, and Wii games now.

    Also a lot of my gaming comes from the free indie scene. Meaning flash portals and freeware games. All you need to do is peruse something like TIGSource or to find a plethora of quality free games.

  7. Anestis Kozakis
    January 3, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    Two more methods you missed:

    You could purchase games during a Steam Sale, or you could buy cheap games from

  8. Austin Beatty
    January 3, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    Steam Sales and Humble Indie Bundles. My Steam account is apparently worth over $500, after adding in the game from HIBs into my account. I've never paid more than $13 for a single game on Steam, and my total spendings are under $100. You'd be surprised what great games you can pick up for under $10 when you wait for a Steam sale.

    • Chris Hoffman
      January 4, 2013 at 2:18 pm

      Yup. Wait for games to hit a nice 75% off during Steam sales (this is basically buying late) and buy Humble Indie Bundles. You can save tons of money this way -- assuming your a PC gamer.

  9. ESCBetty_Boop
    January 3, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    It should be noted that buying used games can come with its own set of problems...namely global bans. Of the previous owner was a hack user and banned for this behavior, the on-line experience of the game could be missed altogether.

    • Dmitriy Haralson
      January 3, 2013 at 9:46 pm

      but that only depends on what platform it was used on... and... lets face it... that would only happen on pc... and if someone has a habit of makin an account for every game, but no one sells used pc games, because the account credentials could be fake...

      the only time when you will miss out on online play when buying used is when you trot into EA territory(on the consoles, ofcource)... and it's not because someone cheated or hacked, but because of the way EA set up their online console gaming

      • Kieran Colfer
        January 3, 2013 at 10:17 pm

        Isn't just online & console, EA don't like you to buy their games second hand, or at least not without getting a cut of the action. Have had a few occasions where I bought a game 2nd hand, it installs and then asks you to register the game online with EA before you can play, and then it won't let you register as you are told that game was registered to someone else already. The only way around it? Pay EA for another license. So, you pay for the game twice, once when you buy it and once when you register it, and EA get paid twice, once when the original person buys it and once when they force you to re-register.