Gaming is an expensive hobby. Videogames are expensive and videogame marketing wants us to believe we have to buy everything there is, and do it now. There are, however, a lot of ways to avoid spending too much and adapt habits to save yourself money and still play a lot of games.
Categorise and Prioritise
Every year a lot of games come out, and we are often overwhelmed by the amount of titles. It can be hard to decide which ones you want and how much money you are willing to spend. It’s a good habit to keep a schedule of what is coming out when, and how much you value it. Personally I sort of categorise games in levels of importance. A: I want it straight away, for full price. This category are for my absolute favourites like Tomb Raider, for example. B: Awesome, but it can wait. These games can wait till they drop in price a bit, or when there’s a neat offer. C: Budget, I’m interested in games from this group but it’s no big deal to wait a year till they drop in price, or when I can borrow it from someone.
Join Xbox Live Gold
If you own an Xbox there is little to no excuse for not buying an Xbox Live Gold subscription anymore. The paid membership is largely associated with multiplayer, but that’s not the main benefit of the service anymore. The Games with Gold program gives you FOUR free games per month: two Xbox One games and two Xbox 360 games that are always backwards compatible. A Gold membership costs about 60 euros for a year. But this is through the official channels (like Microsoft itself or your regular game store). If you search a bit through the internet, they’re easily obtained for about 40,- to 45,- instead. That’s 48 free games per year, for less than a euro a piece.
On top of that: there are weekly discounts, free-to-play weekends and big summer and season sales with discounts up to 75%. If you own an Xbox, get Gold now. You can share it with all the other accounts on the console too.
Even if you don’t play on the PC much: always get a Steam account. Steam has a plethora of benefits that you can get, at no extra costs. Of course there are the famous Steam Sales, where games go for ridiculously low prices. Pro-tip: Put games that you like on your wishlist. Steam will send you an e-mail when they are on sale. Another great benefit is Steam family sharing. If you have a buddy with a big game library, they can add you to their family and you can play their games free.
Keep Yourself Informed
Discounts, special offers and good combo deals or bundles are not always advertised. Make sure to follow a lot of developers, gaming outlets and online platforms on social media so you get plenty of tip offs. For example: Battlefield 4 was available for just a fiver last week. Xbox and PlayStation didn’t advertise or highlight it, but EA put it on their channels. Social media is also a good place for giveaways, Free Code Fridays, raffles and such. Whenever GOG, the Humble Bundle or other websites have great offers it’s also shared on Twitter, usually. Following game devs, journalists and Twitch streamers pays off.
Stack Your Discount
Both online and brick and mortar shops have a lot of offers, discounts and benefit programs going on. Most notorious are the trade-in deals from the physical stores. Often you don’t get much value from it, but if you plan carefully, you can get good deals. For example: trade in multiple old games at once, and always exchange them for a new game instead of money or store credit. If the shop allows it, combine it with coupons, if you have any, and make sure to pick a game that already was discounted anyway. Same goes for digital outlets. Got a gift card from a friend? Use it on games that already dropped in price. Also, a great way of stacking up is by buying pre-owned games and then resell them again in bulk when you’re done with them.
Probably one of the most simple, straight forward pieces of advice. Games are ridiculously expensive at launch and it’s better to wait a while before buying them. As I said in the paragraph about priorities, unless it’s a game you are absolutely bananas for: don’t buy at launch date. Same goes for pre-orders and special editions: unnecessary spending for little to no extra benefit. If you wait a while, not only games will often drop in price, they also might pop up in special package deals or GOTY editions with all DLC included.
Avoid Doing This
To wrap up my little buying guide: here are a few things to avoid. First off: don’t buy into hype. Wait for reviews, read up if the game shipped without bugs, if you aren’t sure about a purchase watch a Twitch stream, try a demo or play it a friend’s house. Another: don’t pay for stuff you don’t want. Special editions, pre-order bonus, season passes; they all want you to spend more. Investigate what you get for your money. Often these deals have one outstanding feature and a whole load of nonsense like weapons and character skins, a steelbook or a digital soundtrack that can only be listened in-game.
If you have any other good tips, tricks or lifehacks about budget gaming: let me know in the comments!