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Game marketing has evolved heavily from its origins. What used to be a fun advertisement is now a fully-fledged campaign to have gamers rushing to give money over to the publisher for the latest AAA-rated game or gaming console.
The problem then becomes; with all these new games, whether they be completely new gaming concepts or the newest release in gaming franchises, how exactly do you know which games to buy and when? The biggest regret for a gamer, after all, is shelling out money for the latest, early release game only to realize it’s a dud. What about the gamer on a tight budget? Follow these tips and you’ll be able to enjoy the newest games on the lowest of allowance!
Wait For Yearly Sales
“Steam summer sale, duh!” is what I imagine every gamer reading this article is saying. Yes, over the summer (late June/early July) Steam holds an annual blowout event wherein new and old games alike get their prices slashed like they’re going out of style.
Don’t log onto your Steam account with an itchy trigger finger, however. It’s easy to see a marked-down price of your favorite game and jump on impulse, but it’s far harder and far more rewarding to pounce at peak sale. This is where content found over at /r/pcmasterrace, like this info-graphic from user /u/Rum_Rogers, prove vital. This may sound needless, but considering some publishers have raised their prices to fool the customer it’s best to take precautions.
The subreddit /r/gaming also hosts daily mega threads during Steam sales where the best sales are suggested and up voted for peak exposure. Steam, however, isn’t the only gaming distribution client with summer sales. In fact, many gaming clients understand summer is the best time to stay indoors and play video games. Gamersgate, for example, is a gaming distribution client that holds weekly sales around summertime with a focus on certain franchises and publishers.
That is not the only time in which a gamer can experience the greatest of sales on the cheapest of budgets. Be on the lookout March – April as Spring sales, though rare, almost never disappoint. The biggest secondary sales event is the Winter sale (other wise known as the Holiday sale), which occurs December – January and includes major sales throughout all game and console franchises throughout the holiday season.
On the more console gamer side, there’s the Black Friday / Cyber Monday double whammy occurring November 25th and 28th wherein consoles and console games are heavily discounted. This applies, of course, to PC games as well.
Weekly Sales / Beta Access
You don’t have to wait all year to get genuinely great deals. Just recently, Steam had a sale on both their highly rated Steam controller and Steam Link hardware.
Virtually every gaming distributor has weekly sales, and you can score some major game titles cheap enough to warrant buying a game a week. Just search for “weekly game deals” online this or next Saturday and marvel at the amount of sales you would’ve missed.
Weekly and weekend sales, however, are just the half of the story. For the gamer that wants the rush of playing the game before locking in, several gaming companies offer Beta access weekends wherein players are able to explore the game’s locations and graphics absolutely free. This was true for the instant hit Overwatch before it’s official release, along with the impressive, upcoming MOBA Paragon.
— Overwatch (@PlayOverwatch) April 14, 2016
It’s easy for the casual shopper to wait until sales come around. The most hardcore of gamers bring the sale to them, usually with the help of handy pricing trackers.
Different publishers and stores price games differently. While Steam may maintain their pricing on a game, GameStop may decide they have to meet their yearly sales quota by lowering their prices. These discounts don’t depend on yearly sales, but can occur in the beginning or end of any given month. That’s why websites like isthereanydeal.com are not only beneficial, but crucial, in scouring pricing and sales data online for the latest and greatest deal.
Simply enter a game or publisher name in the search bar to scour the internet for data. A quick search for “overwatch” pops up a potential sale. Upon further inspection, it seems that I can buy the official Overwatch game as a PC download for $40.00, whereas the Amazon game code costs $59.99.
After doing a little more research, it turns out there are multiple types of game copies I can buy, and that Overwatch (only available for PC) provides full gameplay while the second-most expensive version, Overwatch: Origins, provides some skins and extra goodies for an extra $20.00. If you’re the type of gamer that would rather have a no-frill, purely stock game, you just found yourself a 33% savings for a few seconds of work.
That’s not all, folks! What about the highly-rated Fallout 4? Search for “fallout 4” and you’ll find that the CD key is available for as low as $32.99, nearly 50% of its official Steam website pricing.
When it comes to maximizing the total sales potential, it takes more than today’s sale to get the most bang for your buck. That’s why isthereanydeal.com, and websites like it, often provide a price history feature which allows you to look at the complete pricing trends for a game since its release. Prices fluctuate for any game, but your go-to distribution client like Steam or Amazon may be pricing your game on an upswing while a lesser-known, or international, client may have lowered their prices.
Using price tracking websites are dead simple and will often save you some serious cheddar, which you can invest into buying a new game somewhere down the line!
Wait A Month / Buy It Used
Thus far, I’ve been favoring the PC gamer. I can’t let my fellow console gamers down! Buying used games has been somewhat frowned upon in the past. After all, you never know when a potential bad transaction is lurking in the shadows. There are ways, however, of ensuring that you’re getting the best — and safest — deal possible.
Let’s take, for example, Call of Duty: Black Ops III for the Xbox One. Amazon claims they are having a sale on the item for $36.50, marked down from $59.99 at a staggering discount of 39%. Seems great, right? Let’s do some research.
The price history, as shown on camelcamelcamel.com, tells me that this game is selling at a downswing. It’s the perfect time to buy the game. The Amazon pricing, however, mentions that shipping will cost $3.99 and tax will be $3.65. The total cost for the new game is then $44.14, a total discount of 26% overall. Not as perfect as we thought.
Is this really the best price out there? Near the bottom of the Amazon page, you’ll find the pricing categories marked new, used, and collectibles. Click on the used category and you’ll see an official list of competitive prices for used games, along with the quality and seller rating to ensure that you’re getting exactly what you paid for.
Shipping included, you went from owning a new copy of Black Ops III for 26% percent off to owning a “like new” copy for 43% off at $33.94. Not bad for a few clicks.
To Pre-order, Or Not To Pre-order
That is the often one-sided question. If you pre-order games, you enjoy access to content others do not have. The greatest issue with pre-orders, however, is the lack of awareness concerning the games quality along with the amount of playable content available. When you pre-order a game, you not only risk overpaying for games but risk spending too much time dealing with poor server administration, weak online play, and a lower-quality item overall. Even if you’re just blown away by the E3 gameplay footage and can’t bear wait, keep this in mind: your eyes can deceive you, don’t trust them.
You may be wondering, “If you’re telling me not to pre-order a game, what do I gain by waiting?” The answer: information. It never hurts to know your enemy before making a decision. Game reviews can be the difference between buying an incredible experience and buying a dud.
Want to avoid spending $60 for a game that will take you a couple of hours to complete? Wait a month and check to see how long it takes to finish with a website like howlongtobeat.com. Although such titles as Dark Souls 3 and the recent DOOM are both priced on Steam at $59.99, Dark Souls 3 reportedly provides around 3x the play time as DOOM for the same price.
Stalk Before You Run
Perhaps Sun Tzu said it best in The Art of War: “Who wishes to fight must first count the cost”. Market analysis and price ranging isn’t as gratifying as outright buying and installing the game, but when it comes to the gamer with limited funds or picky taste, spending a couple of minutes to check your purchase’s price can make all the difference.
How do you figure out the perfect time to buy a game? What tools do you use? Let us know in the comments below!
Image Credit: Bottles of coins by Yongcharoen_kittiyaporn via Shutterstock