In the past year, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Red Dead Redemption, Final Fantasy XIII, and God of War III were all released for current generation consoles. These are all highly rated, much anticipated games that are considered to be must-play games of this generation. Unfortunately, for the budget conscious consumer, the cheapest of these games retails at about $50 and most modern games cost as much as $60. At such prices, it can be difficult to afford video games as a source of entertainment. The following advice will help you afford to play video games even if you are on a tight budget.
Console Costs – Even more expensive than the video games is the cost of a new seventh-generation console. The cheapest, the Nintendo Wii, can be found online for about $200, while both the Xbox 360 and PS3 can cost as much as $400. Handheld devices aren’t much cheaper, with both the DSi and PSP going for about $150 online. And, a game worthy computer will easily cost at least $1000 and likely much more. The best way to deal with the hefty cost is to buy a used console. Gamestop will often provide a discount if you trade in an older generation console and eBay sales can be as much as $100 under sticker cost. Alternately, if you are patient, you may be able to receive a console as a gift for a birthday or holiday.
Gift Cards – Between credit card reward programs, online offers, and eBay sales, it is actually quite easy to get cheap or “free” gift cards. About 6 months of answering surveys will earn you a $25 gift card on many online survey sites and credit card reward programs will probably provide a $25 gift card about once a year. Gift cards are also sold on eBay and, if you are lucky, can be bought for about 50% of face value. You can use these cards to supplement your budget and buy games for roughly half off or more.
Used Games – Patience is a virtue. Roughly six months after a game is first released, the cost to buy the game usually drops to about 60-75% of the retail value, especially for used games. Buying from a stranger or in a yard sale may significantly drop the cost, down to mere dollars, but it also increases the risk of the game being non-functional. Chains like GameStop and Amazon test used games and assure functionality before selling them, which makes these stores your best choice.
Retro Games – Retro games are currently all the rage. From classic NES games to cleaned up PS1 games, old games are selling nearly as well as new games. The Wii Virtual Console has hundreds of games from early systems for $10 or less. The Playstation Network also has a much smaller library of original PS1 games. Or, more simply, if you still have a working PS2, buy games for that system. New PS2 games are still being produced and older PS2 games are still some of the best games ever produced. You can easily entertain yourself with just PS2 until well into the next generation.
Downloadable Games – The $10 game is the new standard in independent video games. With a host of new tools available and the simplicity of console download services, game designers are creating a slew of cheap, short, high quality downloadable games. Many of the games have surprisingly high replay value and are easily worth well more than the low sticker prices. You may not be playing the newest hot seller, but you will be playing a new game with extraordinarily good game play.