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Playing 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 sending out games to its subscribers for a set monthly fee.
Enter The Cloud
Cloud gaming, or gaming on demand, 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
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, with official offerings such as Core Online 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.