Video games are one of the most expensive hobbies us middle-class normies can have without breaking the bank. But it’s a tough balance and keeping up with all the newest releases isn’t easy. We do what anyone else with a hobby and limited funds does – we hunt for deals. But how do you save money in an industry as locked down as games can be? I’m here to help. Saving money and gaming is totally possible, so here’s some options that can fit different sizes of wallet.
Get on Twitter/Reddit
The best sources of real-time information on the internet are Twitter and Reddit. No matter what you’re looking for, chances are somebody is tracking it better than you can. Follow accounts like Wario64 and CheapAssGamer, who track deals and stock updates like nobody else. Looking for sold-out Nintendo hardware? Plenty of Nintendo-themed spaces are out there to help you out.
Keep up with Humble Bundle
Humble Bundles are insanely good sources of cheap video games. As an added bonus, you can get those cheap games and give to myriad interesting charities at the same time! There are many other bundle-themed services out there, but Humble Bundle is the most high-profile with regular updates and a good flow of AAA content on top of all the indies.
Look for Facebook groups
This advice especially holds true for those of you who are into collecting retro games. Reliving the good old days is more and more expensive with every passing day. In response, many Facebook groups are cropping up on social media so like-minded gamers can hook each other up with trades and below-retail cash deals. You might have to deal with some difficult people, but I’ve made some amazing deals you wouldn’t find anywhere else via Facebook groups.
This is easy enough. Even if you like to buy your games new, don’t pre-order. You’ll end up spending way more money as a day-one buyer. Not only do games immediately decrease in value after the first few days, but many AAA games will eventually re-release at a lower upfront cost. Big games with lots of DLC are especially good marks for waiting, as game of the year editions pack even more savings in.
Use rental services
You won’t find many of these in a brick and mortar sense, but rental services still exist. Search your area for a local outlet or hit up a RedBox. RedBox isn’t the best deal, but you can at least test out the newer releases for a night or two without a $60 impulse purchase. GameFly is still around and as good as ever. It’s way cheaper than buying games outright, and you have as long as you need with each rental. GameFly often also has big sales, with many deals falling way under other secondhand sources.
PlayStation Plus/Xbox Live Gold
This requires you to also purchase less games early on to make it work, but if you’re paying for online gaming anyway, these two services can be a great source of deals. First of all, subscribing to PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold entitle you to monthly, free games. You don’t get to keep them with PlayStation Plus if you unsubscribe, but you can play as much as you want as long as you do. Additionally, these services often have sales of their own, and paying members generally get even better discounts than what’s normally on offer. PlayStation Network especially has tons of flash sales, with excellent games routinely going for under five bucks.
Nobody really talks about pawn shops anymore, but they’re not a bad way to find deals not only on newer games (although mileage varies here), but also on retro games. Sometimes you’ll walk in and not find anything, but many pawn shops don’t quite know what they have. You can find hard to find stuff at a fraction of its online retail price from more savvy sellers. Of course, some pawn shops know exactly what they have, and the savings will be a bit less.
Here’s something you wouldn’t expect. Walmart has become one of the hottest places to go to for new games. Know why? Because it has gotten into the habit of sometimes selling a newly released title for $10. For example, when Call of Duty: Modern Warfare launched in 2019, it was available there for $49.99, rather than $59.99. Considering how difficult it can be to find new games at any kind of discount, having a store that could have them at a possibly temporarily lower price can be a big deal. It can even happen with Nintendo games, which are notorious for not often getting price drops, as Fire Emblem: Three Houses was $49.99 at launch there instead of $59.99.
This is unstable territory. Not every game key reseller or marketplace is shady and taking advantage of password phishers and credit card fraudsters, but that is definitely something to look out for. Do your research and buying Steam/Origin/etc keys secondhand can be a great source of cheap games, especially around graphic card giveaways and high-profile bundle releases. Just be careful!
Wait for seasonal sales
Speaking of Steam, nobody saves money like PC gamers. In addition to Humble Bundles, Steam has really famous seasonal sales. Steam winter and fall sales are full of just ridiculous deals on popular games, sometimes upwards of 75% or more off. Mileage varies a bit on these as of late, since they’re so popular and messing with bottom lines a bit, but they’re famous for a reason.