Remember the days of the PlayStation 2, original Xbox and Nintendo GameCube where you could go to any GameStop, Best Buy, Wal-Mart or Target and buy a brand new video game for just $50? When the current generation of consoles launched though, publishers decided that $60 a disc would be a much more convenient price for new games. Around six years have passed since this business model started being applied, but is there any other way to buy games at a cheaper price?
A lot has changed in the past six years: users spend much more time looking at the screen of their smartphones now and it’s only natural that they play games in them as well. Others prefer playing on their portable consoles (such as the PS Vita or the Nintendo 3DS.) Others play on their Xbox 360s, PlayStation 3s and PCs where they buy games on sale or indie titles that usually come out at a discounted price. On the other hand, there are still many people playing AAA titles such as Mass Effect 3, Modern Warfare 3, Skyrim or the latest Assassin’s Creed, but it’s worth pointing out that not all consumers are willing to spend their hard earned money on just one title.
Some people (and I must admit I’m one of them) see more value on games that can be played for hundreds of hours. For example, I wouldn’t mind spending $60 on a game like Skyrim or Final Fantasy XIII or basically any other huge RPG if I know that I’m going to spend an insane amount of hours playing it anyway. Of course, the fact that a given title takes you hundreds of hours to beat, doesn’t mean that it’s better or more engaging than a shorter game. Other players prefer playing a short, more consistent experience, such as Vanquish, the single-player portion of any first-person shooter or Asura’s Wrath than running aimlessly in any RPG.
But where can I get cheaper games? Inviting initiatives like the Humble Indie Bundle (that encourages you to name the price of the bundle you’re getting), Steam and GOG sales, Xbox Summer of Arcade, PlayStation Minis or even getting free titles on the PC are much more common now. The value of some of these packages is simply staggering. For example, these are some of the games that were released as part of Humble Indie Bundles: Botanicula, Machinarium, Aquaria, Gish, World of Goo, Braid, Osmos, And Yet It Moves, VVVVVV, Jamestown, Shank, Super Meat Boy, Darwinia, Multiwinia, Uplink and many others.
If you’re willing to wait for a while, you may get some really cheap games. Amazon and Steam usually offer significant discounts on some recently released games. In addition, those looking to save some money can simply wait until the end of the year where some publishers decide to release the “Game of the Year” editions. Usually, those packages feature: a game with all its expansion packs, DLC and maybe even some exclusive content. Finally, going back to a previous system is a very good strategy. Even if you had a PS2, Xbox or GameCube back in the day, you probably missed some classics and if you have some time to check long lists of prices you can find some awesome deals for a few bucks. Retrocompatibility may become an issue here, so make sure that the console you own can play older titles.
In conclusion, there are many strategies to save some money buying games. I’m pretty sure with the current state of the economy and all, most people don’t have an unlimited budget to spend on new releases. Some strategies like playing on handhelds, buying Humble Indie Bundles, using popular platforms such as Amazon or Steam, waiting for “Game of the Year” editions or even buying games from previous generations are definitely quite useful.
Do you usually do anything like this? Would you add any other money saving strategy to the ones presented in this article? Which one would you say is the most effective and why? Did I forget to mention a platform that offers discounted titles? As usual, feel free to share your ideas in the comments.