Video games are expensive. The standard version of a AAA game at release is $59.99, and that’s not including premium and collector’s versions of games, which can go all the way up to $200! Then, on top of that, there’s the $20-$30 season pass if you want all of the DLCs and such for the future too. 

Unless you just have all the money in the world to blow on video games, it’s likely you need to budget your gaming expenses. Getting the most for every dollar from video games requires patience, planning, research and coupons. If you are trying to stay to a budget but still want more video games, here’s some tips to help.

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Either Pre-Order or Don’t Buy at Release

Pre-ordering a game is a huge gamble. You are basically saying “I trust that this game will meet my expectations before anybody else has touched it.” Sure, you can always back out of it later if you decide not to buy it, but still, pre-ordering requires trust. But, with most games, pre-ordering can often mean getting a discount or extra benefits by guaranteeing you get a day one release copy or free stuff for the pre-order. These benefits can range from playing a beta version early, exclusive extra weapons or DLC, or just getting game swag from the store. 

If there is a seller that’s giving a pre-order discount or benefit and you just gotta have the game at release, go with that seller. That might mean buying a digital copy instead of physical, or going to a store you don’t normally visit, but it’s money saved. For a full priced game, the discount is usually about five dollars, but that’s still money saved. 

If you aren’t going to pre-order and you think you can wait on buying for a bit, then wait. Video game prices tend to drop pretty quickly as used copies of the game start to enter the market and sales start to dip. Unless the game is a massive success, the price will typically drop a little in a six months, and have another big drop a year later. For example, Resident Evil 7 came out a little over a year ago and you can get it for $26 on Amazon. That’s more than half the original price. 

Taking Advantage of Retailer Programs

Many video game sellers, physical and digital, big or small, offer incentive or savings programs to their customers. Some, like Target’s Red card, gives you a blanket 5 percent off on all purchases as long as you use it, while loyalty programs give you better benefits the more you shop with them.

Before buying any game with a store, see if there is a program you can utilize to get extra savings, even with the game on sale. Many stores will allow you to stack loyalty savings on top of a sale or coupon, meaning more money stays in your wallet. 

If you have a lot of loyalty shopping points with a certain store, look into what you can do with them. Maybe you could get a 50 percent off coupon with them, letting you get a $59.99 new game for $29.99. 

Wait for Sales or Used Copies

Games are always going on sale. Other gamers are always looking to sell off games they no longer play. Especially several months after a game is released, there is no reason to pay full price. If you have your eye on a specific game, create a price alert for it, like on CamelCamelCamel.com which works as a price tracker for Amazon. Similar services work for other websites, but the basic idea of it is that you ask for it to watch a product and either alert you when the price drops at all, or drops below a certain price. That way, you don’t have to check the webpage day after day hoping to catch a sale. 

Used copies of games are another way to buy cheap. Even days after a game is released, people are selling used copies of it for a few bucks cheaper. Wait even longer for the used games market to saturate and you can get a really good price on a game. There are two major downsides to consider though. Often, with used games, you don’t get the same warranty or return policy you would with a new game, meaning if the game breaks, you’re stuck. The other downside is that the developer of the game doesn’t make any money. If supporting the game maker for the game is important to you, then you should buy the game new. 

Knowing the Tricks of Online Shopping

Buying games in a physical store has limited options. There are only so many places that sell games and only so many ways you can save money, but shopping online is totally different. Especially if you are into PC gaming, there are hundreds of sites that sell video game keys for digital versions, each with their own savings and benefits. 

There are tons of ways to save money by shopping online instead of in person. For example, with some websites if you leave items in a cart for a few days, they’ll offer you an incentive to buy, such as five percent off or free shipping. Alternatively, you can find discount codes for online stores that maybe you didn’t have before just by simply searching online for one. 

Especially in PC gaming, there are tons of game key retailers that can offer crazy deals on games because they buy keys in bulk or in lower price markets. Just make sure the company you are buying from is reputable and has a history of good customer service and actually delivers working keys. 

Keep your eyes out for free games on gaming websites too. Often there are small windows of time, usually a day or two, where they will offer up a premium game for free. Watch sites like  Steam, GOG.com, Humble Bundle, Origin and more for the occasional older and free game. If you have Amazon Prime, you can get free games and other benefits through Twitch Prime. It might be worth following a few social media accounts that specialize in alerting you to free games so you make sure not to miss out. 

Make Extra Cash

If you are truly passionate about gaming, but your current employment isn’t enough to support it, you might need to look into making some extra money. There are tons of ways to earn some spare money for games, so take your pick. You could drive for Uber, pick up a part time job, start your own business selling something you are good at (ranging from yard work to selling crafts) and more. Just make sure that you won’t get in trouble with your current employer for doing work on the side

Do you think you are entertaining to watch play video games? You could start a gaming Youtube channel or stream on Twitch for some spare money. Don’t expect going in to make money right away, but if you work hard you could run a good side job to pay for your video gaming.

When it comes to paying for games, remember that other expenses need to come first. Don’t put yourself into debt or miss paying your rent because you had to buy the newest game. Do what you can to save money, take care of yourself, and try to save whatever money you have leftover. 

Written by
Ben Allen
Writer

Consumer of all thing geek. Ben spends his time playing video games, writing, pondering the Zelda timeline, and wondering when he will become a professional at all three. You can follow him on twitter @allen24ben

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