The holidays are either upon us or coming up, depending on how you process time, and that means our favorite hobby is about to get even more expensive than it already is. Even though there are going to be a bunch of deals and savings available as we close out the year, there is always an onslaught of new content that really won’t receive super heavy price cuts. But there are ways for vigilante gamers to stretch their dollar and get the most out of their video game experience year round.
For starters, picking something up on launch day may be an exciting, irrepressible impulse for a lot of gamers. Everybody is talking about the hot new game, they’re lining up outside of doors, and all the websites are releasing their reviews. It makes it seem like there’s this big event that you’re missing if you don’t spend money. But if you resist that impulse, you’ll see that a lot of games start to drop in price pretty quickly.
This is especially true during the holidays, but don’t turn a blind eye to used games. Games these days are often in very good shape, and this idea of “newness” isn’t really all that valuable. Even as a gift, does it really matter if it’s been opened before? Heck, if even you’re buying a "new" copy of a game from GameStop and it’s not in its shrinkwrap, there’s a chance that games already been played. GameStop employees are allowed to sign out copies for a few days. Unless there’s a code or a really good reason to purchase something new, used games are a very pragmatic choice.
On that note, participating in the second-hand market is a great way to save money. Mostly, this means trading in games to stores that will accept them. The largest option will likely be GameStop, who will give you a very small fraction of what that game is worth and sell it with a considerable markup. This can feel pretty bad at times, but there are ways to get around this. Keep your eye out, and you’ll see the occasional amazing trade promotion come around. Local stores also tend to offer better prices. You can always sell the games yourself on eBay or trade games with friends. Be honest with yourself—are you the type who replays most of your games? Are a lot of your games going to just drop quickly in value? Most of the value of games is the time you spend deriving joy from them. After that, they’re probably not much use to you.
Then, there's the digital route, and this Is where you can really start to see the savings. Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, and Valve all have their own storefronts, and it is useful to check and see what kind of “flash sales” they might have. These sales can surprise you, as they often are unannounced and feature incredible savings on games that you’ve been wanting. You can find games at 90% off at times. If you add games to a wishlist, you can get email alerts on many of these platforms when they go on sale. It only requires a bit of patience, but hey, you probably have other great games to be playing in the meanwhile.
Don't forget services like PlayStation Now, Nintendo Switch Online, or Microsoft’s Game Pass, which allow users to subscribe to them in order to access a growing library of games. These aren’t all poor performing, old games, either. Microsoft’s first party titles appear on the service day one. They have their online features intact, and it’s a great way to discover some classics while you save money for the big games that you really want.
Unfortunately, some of the best discount programs out there have seen cuts. Amazon Prime doesn’t offer the same discount it used to. GameStop has done away with subscriptions for its Power Up Rewards Elite program. Best Buy Gamer's Club doesn’t offer much anymore, either. It sucks, because it was easy to get value back on these subscriptions. GameStop employees have to try to push that magazine subscription the card that gives 15% off for $15 on you. While that card may make it seem like it might be hard to get your money back. it’s only a matter of spending $150 on used games throughout the year and it works on the transaction that you make when you sign up. So if you don’t mind used games, you can usually make this card worthwhile after two or three trips.
You also have the option to visit sites like Craigslist or Offer Up, although I would encourage you to be cautious in this respect. Meet in a safe place, find a way of testing the system, learn several forms of martial arts, and let everyone know where you’re going to be. You’re less likely to get murdered.
After a while, it might feel that saving money on games is actually exhausting. If deal hunting isn’t fun for you in the same way that coupon clipping is for old ladies, it is important that you don’t sweat the small things. Sometimes, you won’t get the best deals. For the minimum effort approach to saving money, just put some things on your wish list, check out websites like Cheap Ass Gamer, and exercise patience on launch day. Oh, and video game rentals are still a thing. Always feel free to hit up that good ol’ Redbox.