Commentary
12:30 pm
Thu January 31, 2013

Your Move: Budget Gaming

Video games are expensive. Brand new console games routinely cost $60, which can add up very quickly. This problem isn’t without a solution, though, and I’ve come up with a few ways to save without ever running out of games to play.

Credit Dekuwa / Flickr

When I was a kid, I had this really cool adapter for my Sega Genesis called the Sega Channel. It plugged into the cable, and for a monthly fee, there was a selection of a bunch of Sega games – both new and old – available to play instantly. Unfortunately, this service was canceled in 1998, and there hasn’t really been anything like it since.

At least, there wasn’t until Sony started its PlayStation Plus service. For an annual fee that is less than the cost of a brand new game, Sony lets you download several of their most popular titles for PS3 and the hand-held PS Vita, adding new titles every month – some of which are still $60 in stores. Now, the volume of Plus’s Instant Game Collection isn’t like the 50 titles that were available every month on Sega Channel, but it is quickly getting there. As long as you aren’t terribly picky about the games that you are playing, PlayStation Plus is a huge value for the thrifty gamer.

Video games can be deeply discounted during sales – Amazon often has days with a dozen one-day-only sales on games, and around major holidays, the online PC game store Steam discounts hundreds of games, some more than 90%. I admit to having impulse-bought several games just because of the steep discount. I keep an eye on a few websites that will let me know whenever I should prepare for an upcoming sale.

Of course, the easiest way to save is just to exercise patience – console games generally come down in price rapidly a few months after release, and the less popular the game, the faster and more dramatic the drop. Games that were $60 new a year ago can be found for $20 today.

I’m not always going to wait to buy a game – there’s nothing quite like running through Halo’s story mode with friends on launch night – but when there are so many great games out there to play, I can afford to be patient.

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