Budget Gaming 101: Tips For The Broke Gamer

Reader Ozzie points us to video game developer Ashley Cheng’s blog post about budget gaming. The tips are basic, but it’s good advice nonetheless.

Here’s a quick summary of the tips:

  1. Be patient. If you must have the thing on the day it comes out, you will pay more.

  2. Wait for a sale. “Retailers will put the title on sale (like toysrus’ annual 2 for 1 game sale) or you can wait a year for the reissued compilation edition of the game that is usually cheaper and has extra bonus content, as well. See Oblivion’s Game of the Year edition that comes with extra content that came out a year after it first shipped.”
  3. Buy used. Got a friend who beats everything and then sells it back? Buy it from him! Or check out places that sell used games, perhaps on the internet.
  4. Rent. Video stores rent games, and there is also GameFly, which is similar to Netflix.
  5. Employee Discount. Get a seasonal job in retail and use your discount to buy games.

How do you save money on games? Share your frugal gaming tips in the comments.

Gaming on a Budget [Ash the Blog] (Thanks, Ozzie !)
(Photo: C. Barr )

Comments

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  1. Etoiles says:

    Getting a part-time retail gaming job is probably not the best idea, depending on your geographic location and available time.

    1.) If you have a bad gaming habit, it’ll make you spend a LOT more. 20% is not worth that.

    2.) Depending where you live, it can hurt you at tax time. One year I worked 3 jobs over the course of the year, and when I got that last W-2 from my estimated $1400 income from retail, I switched from a $600 refund (I’d had most of it ready to go in TurboTax) to $4 owed.

    GameFly, buying used, and sharing with friends (for games without number-of-activation-based DRM or for games that don’t require an online component) have worked best for me.

    • zigziggityzoo says:

      @EtoilePB: All that means is that you didn’t give the Gov’t a free loan, also known as Your Refund Dollars. Instead, you got them in advance by not deducting enough from your paycheck.

      • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

        @zigziggityzoo: I wonder if they took that $4 off the National Debt Clock yet. :D

        Anyway, the original warning stands because if the amount of owed tax is too high, typically you have to pay a penalty since they gave YOU an interest free loan.

        • mugsywwiii says:

          @Applekid:
          It’s pretty easy to avoid paying a penalty.

          You have to meet two criteria to owe a penalty -
          1. Underpay by more than 10% of your total tax liability (that is, you paid less than 90% of what you owed)
          2. Pay less than your total tax liability from the previous year

          The first one requires some effort to predict, but it’s easy to ensure that your withholdings are higher than your previous year’s tax liability. The latter number is on your tax return, and the former can be calculated with some easy multiplication.

    • edosan says:

      @EtoilePB: “…when I got that last W-2 from my estimated $1400 income from retail, I switched from a $600 refund (I’d had most of it ready to go in TurboTax) to $4 owed.”

      That just means you figured out your withholding wrong.

      • Etoiles says:

        @edosan: Nope, it means New York City and State tax laws are pretty arcane and that’s where I got hit.

      • mugsywwiii says:

        @edosan:
        Ending up owing $4 means his withholding was pretty much spot on. I don’t know why people thinks it’s so great to get money back, you’re getting your money back!

    • Outrun1986 says:

      @EtoilePB: Most of the people who I know that work at Gamestop end up putting most of their entire paycheck back into the store to buy hyped-up, new release games. So getting a job within a retail store that sells games is probably not such a good idea as you will feel incredibly pressured to play the latest game on day 1, when its most expensive.

    • socalrob of the 24 and a half century says:

      @EtoilePB:
      I must agree with the working at the store part being a bad idea. I worked for Toys R us for my first job at 18 during the christmas season. The PS2 just happened to be released a week after I started. Well a month and a half down the road I ended up buying one when they came in on pay day of all days and I had enough cash to do it. Although it was my whole paycheck.

      Toys R Us only gave a 10 percent discount. This covered only sales tax in california. So that sucked. I didn’t buy alot of new games, what I did buy were a bunch of Dreamcast games that were 20 bucks or less.

      Ohh yeah I’m a budget gamer by the way. I rent alot with my Blockbuster free rental coupon I get once a month, I buy used games for my old xbox which are $4 or less or just borrow from a friend. And sales are a big part of my life.

  2. Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

    Gank them from my brothers after they beat them!

  3. pop top says:

    GameFly is a great service, but it gets pretty expensive if you want more than one game out at a time (that plan is only $15, which isn’t too bad, but a lot more expensive than the equivalent Netflix plan @ $8.99). If you want three or more games at a time, you have to be a member in good standing for at least six months. I do know that they have a free one-month trial going on right now (1 game at a time plan), so anyone who is interested should check it out.

    • Ghede says:

      Tip: Don’t buy/sell used in retail stores. If somebody buys a new game and sells it back the VERY next day, they might get 20 bucks for something they paid 60 dollars for. If you buy it the same day, you will pay $55.

      You have several alternatives if you want to own your games, there is Ebay, but with prices rising there, you might want to forget it. I recently found a site where you can swap things, including videogames, for the cost of shipping. It also has pretty decent anti-scam measures thrown in. [gametz.com]

      Personally, I go with gamefly. If I ever feel like playing a game again, it only gets easier to rent, and I don’t mind not getting release date games for the most part. I still wind up buying PC games though. They never drop in price and are never available used, and cannot be rented.

    • PurpleMonkey says:

      @squinko: I use gamefly for the vast majority of games. You get to enjoy games, beat them, and just send it back. If you want to keep it, then you will get a pretty large discount, most of the time it’ll cost you $40 for a game that is $60 new.

      While I mostly use GF, I also buy the occasional game from stores if it’s one that I simply have to have on day one. This combination of always renting and occasionally buying works wonders for a gamer on low funds like me. I wouldn’t recommend selling your games to Game Stop, I see it as too much of a rip-off (my friend was once offered $2 for the GBA Super Mario World.)

  4. NeomaHizanyous says:

    Two words: open source! Go to sourceforge.net, click on find software, choose games, and then sort by number of downloads. Note also that you can sort by genre. The number of open source projects is staggering and quite a few of them are commerical-quality games. If you don’t care about games that need the latest-greatest rig to run, then odds are very good you’ll find something good in the open source world.

  5. undertakernv says:

    cheapassgamer.com is a great website to keep track of for gaming deals.

    Another method to save on games is to buy 1 at a time. Especially at this time of year when all the great games come out at once. Pick 1 and wait for the others to go one sale.

  6. Walrii says:

    Also, consider retro gaming. Some games (Megaman, Sonics) have been released so that there’s several in the series on 1 disc. You can also buy old game’s online (Wii virtual console, I think XBOX has something similar) or even try emulators. Old games may not be so pretty, but they can easily suck away your free time.

    • battra92 says:

      @Walrii: Oh yeah. I swear my NES/Famicom(s) get(s) almost as much play as my Wii/DS. Seriously, Lum no Wedding Bell is freaking addictive.

  7. trogam says:

    Pick out just a few games ahead of time, and save up for them. The rule about waiting so many days for every 25 bucks spent works wonders for new games which can be between 50-60.
    Buying used is always good, and if you have any games you don’t think you’re goign to play anymore, sell them or trade them at gamestop (A neccesary evil but effective none-the-less.) Also, if you just want cash back in full, I usually put the money towards one of my pre-ordered games and then cancel the pre-order, getting the full amount of trade in values in straight up cash. Then you have food money, or you can go to a bargin bin, gas, etc.
    Also, Gametap for PC gamers. Currently they have Fallout, Deus Ex, and Psychonauts as free full game downloads. They also have a large collection of retro games to play.

  8. HootieMac says:

    I buy used and, unless it’s something I’m really dying to play, wait for the popularity to drop, which is usually accompanied by a price drop.

    I know people hate Gamestop, but you can actually get some decent deals there. Their discount card is something like $20/year and gets you a 10% discount on all used games (and a Game Informer subscription.) The discount stacks with sales and even other discounts (coupon from their weekly e-mail including their ad)- I’ve gotten some pretty steep discounts on games by doing this.

    • EricLecarde says:

      @HootieMac: Section 9 Reject: Consider this: I’ve bought the Orange Box new for 29.99 at Game Crazy, or used for 49.99 at Gamestop. Sure you saved a whole 50 cents.. but I saved 20 cash total. Best way is to really just shop around.

  9. tevetorbes says:

    Not sure about the smaller brick-and-mortars (see: Gamestop, etc.) but when I worked at Circuit City, there was absolutely zero markup on games and, as such, we got zero discount.

    Don’t know that the seasonal job one is such a good suggestion, especially given the fact that the worst season for retail employees is fast approaching (working Xmas blows).

    Unfortunately, seems like gaming is like anything else: you have to ask yourself do you really need that game the day that it comes out or can you wait for a sale?

    Also, retro gaming suggestion was pretty good- hit up your local used games store, they usually have a good selection of older games for pretty cheap. Try to stay away from the larger chains and see if you can’t find a local guy- you might even build a rapport and he can hold games that you want as they come in.

  10. duncanfj says:

    Goozex is another good option. Much better than trading your used games in at a store.

    • capitolm94 says:

      @duncanfj:

      Agreed. I am a huge fan of this site, if you are patient you can get anything you want and keep playing new games without spending money.

  11. lol_wut says:

    I worked at Funcoland, Toys R Us, and another local specialty video game store back in high school / start of college. Having full access to games 8 hours a day (getting paid for it) and another 4-6 hours after that was a bit too much for me. I spent quite a bit more in those years than I did working outside of that sector. Working in those kinds of stores (Funcoland, etc) and seeing the crap people brought in for store credit made me think twice about buying used.

    Growing up, I took good care of my games. My systems were always complete, and I proudly displayed the boxes the systems came out of as room decorations. When I went to sell off my systems, it was grossly obvious what I had done because you would see empty spaces in my room between the games and systems sold. My mighty Genesis collection – which I had up to 100 at one point – dwindled down to 20 in a heart beat. I had everything – boxes, instructions, manuals, all with no hint of Blockbuster’s filthy tamper proof stickers.

    It saddens me to this day to see people selling off their games with those stickers on, intact, and passing them off as like new. I’m embarrassed to say I currently own a pre-owned Gamecube from EB Games that I got for $30, and it is torn to shit. I’m well behind the gaming scene. I just wanted something I could play games on and not be shameful when the kiddos are in the house. (Grand Theft Auto comes to mind)

    Maybe I grew up differently. Maybe I’m anal retentive about this sort of thing. I dunno.

    Don’t get me wrong, when I worked at used shops I had the chance to find those “rare gems” used and hold them aside. The BEST place I worked for let me purchase the games at our COST – no discount. So for example, Einhinder for the original Playstation. Great shooter from Square. I paid $10 for it. The jewel case was shot, but I just took a new case from our store’s stock and respiffied it. The CD was near mint. I did that a lot.

    I’m strongly debating getting a PS2 since there is an entire library of titles that I NEVER played. The used market is MASSIVE. What do you all think?

    • edosan says:

      @Sam_Wille: I’m actually thinking about getting a PS2 for the same reason.

    • samurailynn says:

      @Sam_Wille: The PS2 didn’t drop enough in price for me to want to buy it. Maybe if you can find a good one used it would be worth it. I ended up buying one of the last models of PS3 that was backwards compatible. It’s kind of like getting two systems in one, so it was worth the price for me. (Plus I’m dying to play Fallout 3 when it comes out.)

    • DePaulBlueDemon says:

      @Sam_Wille:

      I think that’s a good idea. If you get a PS2 you can enjoy one of the largest game libraries on any system to date. Sony is still releasing new games for it as well. You can build up a very respectable collection of games at basement prices. For instance, yesterday I saw a brand new NBA 2K8 for the PS2 at Target for $4.88. Can’t beat that.

    • bunt says:

      @Sam_Wille: and despite your disgust at your used gamecube, used ps2s are cheaper than dirt. probably the smartest way to go.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I watch cheapassgamer.com

  13. FentonLaodamas says:

    I second Goozex.com

    It’s worked out tremendously for me. You just need to have a little patience and let the system work for you. If you are a ‘gotta have it now’ type, then Goozex isn’t the place for you.

    • MSUHitman says:

      @FentonLaodamas: Yeah Goozex is great for getting older titles or less popular current titles, but new, popular titles you’ll likely wait months for.

      Another thing to do is wait until Gamestop has a 20-25% off used coupon (which would stack with their Edge discount card to 30-35% off.) Gamestop does coupons every week and you get them if you sign up for their email notification of their ad at gamestop.com. The coupon will be on the bottom of the email you receive.

      It’s not always % off a used game purchase, but they just went about 1 full month of doing some version of% off used games every week.

  14. mythago says:

    If you like online games, check around – some of them are free, or have free introductory periods or “buddy passes” that let you borrow a friend’s copy of the game disks and play free for a week (before you plunk down $50). Some games, like Guild Wars, don’t charge you a monthly fee to play.

  15. Skybolt says:

    Play shareware games! That’s pretty much all I play. Check out

    [www.spiderwebsoftware.com]

    The games cost less than $30 and you can play them over and over. The graphics and sound would have been cool in 1990 or so, but the game worlds are huge and the plots are complicated. The demos can take hours. Replayability is high.

    Also:

    [www.bay12games.com]

    Free games!

  16. GilloD says:

    Gamerang.com is great for the NY/NJ area. 25$/mnth for 2 games out. Even I only play 2 games the whole month, that’s a 95$ savings.

  17. m4ximusprim3 says:

    craigslist.

    I don’t ask where they got it, they don’t say.

    • corinthos says:

      @m4ximusprim3: Agreed. I will put ridiculous offers to trade on there and someone will get in touch and work something out.I traded my N64 system with Mario 64 for GTA4 within two weeks of its release.

  18. Murph1908 says:

    Gamefly rules.

    I used to buy a game a month, at least. Now I buy a game a year, maybe 2 or 3, and those are usually used or older games, or games with high replayability.

  19. Robobagins says:

    Gamestop. As much as people hate it, it’s where I go for games. I’ve been a member of their little card thing for years. It’s 10% off on used games and accessories, and it stacks with almost every other deal or coupon they offer weekly. I’ve saved alot through them.

  20. Swizzler121 says:

    can’t believe you didn’t suggest selling, or trading your old games in. There are a few places to do this, I sell my hardware (controllers, special game devices, old systems) on dawdle.com, and then I trade my games on Goozex. So simple I barely have to spend a buck on a game, except shipping of course.

  21. Geekybiker says:

    #1 is a bad idea. Typically if there are sales on a game its either the week of release, or months after-wards when they are closing them out. And that’s normally less desirable games too.

  22. homerjay says:

    Oh I thought this was going to be a post about gambling. Personally, I’d prefer to know how to make it in Vegas on a shoestring budget.

  23. Dadu says:

    Gametap.com is another option.

  24. terminalboredom says:

    USB pad + emulators = hours of fun for $20.

  25. DoubleEcho says:

    How about indepedent developers? I bought an awesome indie game, Aquaria, from Bit-Blot software via their website after trying the demo, for only $35. After the good experience I had with it, I took a look at some of the other titles that came close to beating this game out and most of them are actually very good.

  26. Willow01 says:

    Pirate it, play it, if I enjoy it buy it used. Hooray for mod chips.

  27. jeffs3rd says:

    I was in Toys R Us Saturday and found 4 games (TopSpin2, All-Pro Football 2k7, Tony Hawk:American Wasteland, and Fifa 2006) for a total of $25. Since I don’t really have the money to buy the latest and greatest game, but am interested in all of these titles since they all have replay value (or at least long play value) it was a steal.

    My advice is to really hone in on what type of gaming you like, and check the bargain bins. Gamestop near me has 3 large bins that are $10 or less. Yes, they are all used, and yes, most of them are pretty old, but you can find some gems in there, especially if you know a specific genre or type of gameplay you are looking for.

  28. junip says:

    I am operating under #5, except my “employee discount” allows a number of free games per year (but they have to be titles made by my employer).

    Of course, if I didn’t have that and I was a die-hard gamer, I would think ahead, and ask for gift cards to my favorite game retailers for both birthdays and christmas. And yes, buy used when possible.

  29. __Ken__ says:

    I never pay $50 or more for a game.

    yeah, that makes me “finally” get a game after the initial lust is over, but I still get to have fun without burning a hole in the pocketbook.

    Besides after six months there are plenty of reviews and comments that make me glad I didn’t buy it day 1.

  30. tinyrobot says:

    Goozex! People have taken ancient games from my offerings, and it’s easy to put the points towards new releases (if you queue early enough) or classics you want to fill out your collection. IF you want a signup bonus credit when you create your account, feel free to use my referral code (or not if you just want a vanilla signup).

    Other than that, start a video game blog, and see if you can get review copies of games sent to you in exchange for editorials?

  31. Sockatume says:

    I’m going through a rough financial time right now, and it’s been great for convincing me to get through those games I bought and kind of forgot about. I can’t afford an Xbox 360 to get my mitts on much-desired Fable 2, so FF6 Advance and FFIII DS are getting attention. I might even revisit FF Tictacs Advance! Great value for your money there.

  32. Outrun1986 says:

    WAIT WAIT WAIT! Thats the biggest trick, get yourself on a schedule so that you have more than enough games in the house so you don’t feel like running out to buy the latest games. Games drop in price and it happens fast. Shop those clearance sales. If you must have the latest most expensive games, buy them at a Buy 2 Get one Free sale. Movie games are almost always the first to drop in price, so if you want one of those, wait a month after it comes out and it will likely have dropped to 19.99 or less. Don’t be the idiot that buys the movie game on the day the movie comes out. These are also some of the most poorly rated games, yet another reason to wait for them to drop.

    Buy games on ebay, there are wholesalers on there who have hundreds of copies of the same game that they are selling at a huge discount. Since there are so many copies of the same game flooding the market it leads to incredibly low prices on certain titles.

    Buy used games on ebay, don’t be afraid to buy a used game, plastic wrap is just gonna get taken off the package anyways when you go to play the game.

  33. kz26 says:

    *cough* *cough* download your games. can’t get any cheaper/more frugal than that ;)

  34. aka Bitter says:

    If you want to play a game, support the developer and purchase it; or wait until you can afford it. There is no excuse for stealing.

    If you’re playing a lot of games, nothing beats a rental service like Gamefly. The $30 per month you pay is half the cost of a single new game and with some careful management of your queue, you can get most games on the week of release; then buy the really exceptional titles via “Buy it Now” or later at retail on sale.

  35. GundamAC197 says:

    Yeah, been following that plan (minus working retail) for around a year now. One that they left out–buy last-gen games. All the current consoles play games from the systems that came before them, and generally those games are $10 or less. You can go back and pick up the stuff you missed out on, and pay a lot less for full-length games.

    Also, if you’re in Missouri or Illinois, I’d suggest Slackers over GameStop. Much better trade prices, better selection of used games, and more knowledgeable staff.

  36. dry-roasted-peanuts says:

    Ramen.

    It’s all about priorities.

  37. zlionsfan says:

    Trade games with friends. (Start with either a game you won’t miss or a friend you won’t miss.) Or schedule one day a month (or more) when several of you go to one person’s house and play games there. (Now, with my friends, that usually means we play Rock Band 1 or 2 all day …)

    Play more games with your friends, try playing online against new people, or both. Sometimes you get a completely different experience playing others instead of playing … um … yeah.

    Absolutely wait for sales. Every now and then, even Amazon will have a good game sharply discounted, and sometimes those games don’t even sell out during the day (meaning that sometimes they do sell out before the sale expires). Keep an eye out for sales on Microsoft Points cards, if you have a 360. There are several solid XBLA games available, and some of them have a lot of replay value, especially if the points you got were on sale.

    If you have to have a game on release day, shop around. If you want to “reserve” a copy, try to find the best preorder deal you can. (Which would you rather have, a limited-edition poster or a $10 coupon off your next order?) Just keep in mind that preordering a game doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get it on launch day.

    If you want to look at a wider variety of games, and you don’t mind spending a little more money, get the 2-game plan from GameFly (or maybe even 3 games) … keep one slot for a game that you’ll play for 50+ hours, and use the other one to try different games. Rent one, see if you like it, return it, move on to another one. This way, you can build your wish list and still play a lot of games without paying for a lot of games, and you can always keep an eye out for the deeply discounted games that GameFly offers from time to time.

    Enter contests. No, really. For the 360, both xbox360achievements and xbox360fanboy, among others, give away either retail games or codes for XBLA games from time to time. You can’t beat free, especially if all you have to do to enter is post.

    Unfortunately I don’t take enough of my own advice – who does? – but maybe some of this will help other readers …

  38. SidoniaSilanus says:

    Target Clearance has been good to me, picked up Kameo for $4.98 and at Toys R Us I picked up Final Fantasy Advance I & II for only $5.

    Online I mostly play games at Kongregate.com, the games seem “better” there, compared to other online game sites.

    Redbox or Blockbuster “should” offer game rentals in their kiosks, in my opinion.

  39. MoreFunThanToast says:

    Trade games with friends when they’re done with them.

    So if you have 5 friends each with a different game, you could potentially play 5 different games with the price of one.

    Renting gets pretty expensive if you don’t play the game very often and keeps it for a long time.

  40. redkamel says:

    you can get all sorts of games for free or less than 10 dollars on Craigslist. I got a Monopoly, Twister (broken spinner), AND Candyland all in one weekend. So many games I dont know what to do with them! I play them online too (webcam).

  41. richard says:

    Add your video games to Waitable [waitable.com] , tell it the price you want to pay for them, and it lets you know when the price reaches whatever you set.

    It’s the only way I buy games… I never buy a game for over $20 -$30 unless it is named Gears of War or SoulCalibur.

  42. Outrun1986 says:

    Renting is a good idea if you have to have your games on day one and will just trade it in to gamestop after you beat it anyways. If you are the type of gamer who beats a game on day 1 or 2 and trades it into Gamestop, renting will save you a lot of money. Gamestop might give you 20$ back on that 60$ game even if its less than a week old, definitely go for renting if your this type of gamer. Don’t feed Gamestop and start renting.

    If you are buying games for your kids you most likely should rent, kids don’t know what they want and neither do you. They tend to blow through games like water (at least in my experience), playing one game for 5-10 min saying they hate it and then asking for a brand new one (there’s $50-60 down the drain if your kid hates the game you buy). Renting is ideal for this situation. This also helps to avoid the pitfalls of paying a lot of money for a game that only looks cool on the cover and in reality is a horrible game. Most 19.99 and under games that are in the store within reach of kids are also bad, so this helps you to stop wasting money on crap games just because they are positioned right in front of your kid in the aisle in the store and they are reasonably priced. If your buying games for your kids chances are you are wasting a lot of money unless they are old enough to have honed in on the type of game they really want.

    I think you can save more money by not shopping at Gamestop and not buying into their Edge card program. The edge card only saves you 10% and since it costs 15$ you have to spend $150 there just to break even, and $200 just to save 5$. Its a loyalty card that keeps you coming back for more. I think I can save a lot more if I stay away from that methodology. I feel that Gamestop is overpriced on quite a few games as well, however the occasional good price drop or good deal on NEW games comes up (the edge card doesn’t help you with new games, only used).

  43. yagisencho says:

    I preorder a few titles a year, but for the rest I wait until crowded shelf space and drop in demand causes the publisher to lower the price. I buy most of my new games at under half the initial retail price.

  44. BytheSea says:

    A library near me started lending out games. :D

    I buy used and keep older gen game systems. Why is the game you were drooling over a year ago suddenly worthless just because it’s on an older system? Tomb Raider for PS1 is still the best puzzle game ever made.

  45. emax4 says:

    Don’t forget about the emulators. MAME (stand-up arcades), SuperNES, NES, Sega Genesis, Atari, Intellivision, Odyssey 2, and even pinball (Visual Pinball & Visual PinMAME). Endless replay value on those.

    A lot of the older games also have mods (different maps, vehicles, characters and skins, etc), which make gameplay different. Even Diablo II has different mods out there.

  46. WhitlawOdysseus says:

    I have been very happy buying used games on Amazon. You just have to remember to check the seller’s feedback.

  47. HooFoot says:

    Interested in a game? Find a torrent and sample it before you put down $49.99 for it.

    And before I get flamed for this suggestion, this has nothing to do with being a cheapskate and everything to do with boycotting companies who put out inferior products. Consumers wouldn’t have to resort to this measure if game companies didn’t add a ton unnecessary and intrusive DRM. When consumers are given the choice of buying a game filled with DRM and told they can only install it 3 times [Spore] or downloading the game for free without the above BS, then it shouldn’t come as a suprise that most consumers will choose the free version. Until the companies stop with these anti-consumer tactics, there is no reason to give them your money.

  48. Lilija says:

    Another great thing about Gamefly is the membership discounts. I rarely, if ever, spend more than $20 on a game. I rent the newer ones, then buy games when they drop to below $20. With the occasional five dollars off, and my standing 10% discount, I often buy decent newish (2007) games for 10-12 bucks. I’m staring at my shelf right now, and out of the 30 or so games my son and I have, combined, we paid full price for…three of them. If you’re smart, it’s easy to game on the cheap. Credit for turning in games isn’t half bad either, way WAY better than Gamestop.

    I don’t work for them or anything, but it’s one of the few services that I am consistantly happy with. I feel like I definitely get what I pay for.

  49. Keavy_Rain says:

    I look for games with replay value, online play, and/or a lengthy single-player campaign. Games like Oblivion, Fallout 3, or GTA IV give a lot of bang for the buck. For example, I’ve had GTA IV since the day it came out and am only 75% finished with it!

    Another great resource is downloadable games. For example, I paid $10 for Tetris Splash on XBLA but have played it more than I have games I paid $60+ for.

    Also, we cannot forget older games. Fable: Lost Chapters killed a couple weekends and it was $10 new at Fry’s, I paid $50 total for Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy XII, and Dragon Quest VIII and have already killed countless weekends on those, and for $6 I got Fallout and Fallout 2 from a website called “Good old games.”

    A great resource for cheap electronics is floor model sales. I got my Xbox 360 with a two-year warranty extension for $240 because it was a floor model.

  50. UlfKolling says:

    Our local library started stocking games (Wii, PS2, XBox 360) about 6 months ago and it’s AWESOME! You can borrow two at a time (free) for a week. I usually renew them the day they’re due for another week. You can’t keep them more than 2 weeks, or it’s a buck per day.

    Really it’s perfect for me, I’m a pretty casual gamer so after two weeks I’m going to be done with something!

  51. econobiker says:

    Troll Goodwills and Mckays bookstores(regional TN used book,movie,game chain) for used games.

  52. bluewyvern says:

    GameTap. For a pretty low monthly or yearly subscription, you can download and play more current big titles than you’ll know what to do with.

    Classic and slightly aging games. I look for cheap titles on the discount racks at Target and the like, for great games that are three or four years old. There is also a wealth of older used games sold by various sellers on Amazon. If you’re not hung up on pretty boxes and manuals, you can get some incredible prices on used disks in jewel cases.

    Free online games. Jay is Games and Lazylaces are my favorite sources for online adventure and casual games. There are also a lot of good downloadable titles, from amateur-made games with engines like AGS, to online troves of abandonware.

  53. lannister80 says:

    2 words: Mod Chip

  54. opsomath says:

    Retro all the way! Goldeneye and Mario Kart 64 are just as fun as the day they came out. PS1 is cheaper now too, and there are some outstanding games for it.

    I just blew through last Sunday by digging out a friend’s copy of Starcraft and playing some 2v2 games with him. Way fun. So what if the graphics suck more than you’re used to? You’ll get used to it in like ten minutes, that’s what your brain does. My next project is to play through the Fallout trilogy, since I never got to in high school. (Who wants to sell me their copy?)

    Also free stuff exists. If you swing that way, try any number of free online RPGs – MUDs, facebook apps, turn-based strategy. Classic stuff like chess, too. It’s prob. better for your brain too.

    Let’s not forget tabletop gaming! You can get a lot of people involved including those who don’t generally play video games. Settlers of Catan is a personal recommendation. Various forms of poker are fun, and if everyone chips in a dollar or two to the pot it still gets your blood pounding – and averages out in the end.

  55. darkstarX says:

    I feel bad pirating games, but I am really cheap so I have recently been getting into Open Source games. Games like Alien Arena, Urban Terror, Open Arena, and Frets on Fire are pretty fun and they are literally free. Not a free demo or trial period, but free to use, distribute and even modify. Also, I have an older computer so I stick with buying classics for big discounts rather than getting the newest game that will probably not run at 100% on my system. Screw Call of Duty 4, its all about CoD 1 and 2.

  56. stezton says:

    I definitely agree patience is the key in regards to price and picking good titles. I haven’t bought a new game above $30 in years. Right now I would love to have Infinite Undiscovery & Tales of Vespiria, but I know by the time I really get around to playing them they’ll be cheaper anyway. So I bought Viking for $20 and I’m enjoying it. I also believe in waiting for some reviews. Yeah, I know some people don’t trust reviews, but I do think they are a good gauge of what is wrong with a game. For example if alot of reviews say a game is really short I refuse to pay a lot for it. I use reviews to set my price, i.e. “this sounds like a $25 game”.

  57. GarretN says:

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned this yet.

    Watch for clearance games at regular brick and mortar stores. Often times, they’ll also clearance games that aren’t that old if they’re unpopular or a newer version is about to come out.

    I scored NiGHTS (Wii version) for $7 new from Target, Zack & Wiki for $10 from KMart, and Supreme Commander Gold (Includes expansion) for $10 from Target — all pretty recently. Games go cheap all the time, if you watch the clearance end-caps stuck in store corners.

  58. narq says:

    Gamefly gamefly gamefly. It’s the BEST thing a gamer could ever do. If you get a game and it sucks, return it the next day. It usually only takes 3-4 days to get a new game. I’ve had the service for over a year. The cost of 1 year of service amounts to buying 4 full price games a year. It will save you hundreds. Yeah you don’t get to play that popular game the day it comes out but who cares, you pay a lot less in the long run. Plus you get coupons for buying used games from them if you do want to keep a game.

  59. blackmage439 says:

    Personally, I custom-built a cheap gaming rig. I literally went as cheap as possible, but it performs decently. Not to mention I don’t have the time or resources to purchase an XBOX 360 and/or a PS3. The newest console I have is an original XBOX…

  60. ZacharyJemagee says:

    I currently work at Gamestop and I have to say that I absolutely take advantage of their used game policy. When you buy ANY game used, you have 7 (seven) days to return it for your full money back as long as you have your receipt. It’s almost like renting. You do have to pay the full price for the game, but as long as you return it within seven days, you get all of that money back, no questions asked. You don’t need a reason to return the game, simply not liking it is good enough.

    As others have said, the discount card actually is worth the $14.99 a year. You get 10% off ALL used games and accessories AND you get 10% more added on to when you trade in games and acessories. You also get a magazine subscription. However, I never trade my games back to Gamestop because they do rip you off. If you do decide to trade in games, make sure there is some kind of deal going on. Gamestop ALWAYS has Power Trades, which is usually three select titles that, when you trade in games and put all that money towards one of those games, you get an extra 15-25%. Never trade in games unless there is a deal going on, or else you’ll get no bang for your buck.

    Gamestop does have lots of opportunities for you to get games at a pretty heavily discounted price. I have worked there for about 2 years, on and off, and I don’t buy many games. When I do buy one, it is ALWAYS used because it’s cheaper, especially if you have the discount card, and you can always bring it back. Even if you are the type of person who needs the game immediately, I’d say wait about 2-3 days because generally, by then, someone will have traded in the newest game that has just come out. If you are a regular customer at a certain game store, the employees would more than likely be willing to hold it for you. As far as trading in goes, I’d recommend using one of the sites listed in the comments here.

    Happy Gaming!

  61. Griffintard says:

    gamersfirst.com is a good site. They are free games and with decent graphics.

  62. chocogray says:

    Gaming is my bad habit, about the only thing i do to save any money is read reviews so I don’t get stuck with a crap game. But other than that, the gaming industry might as well have my ATM pin

  63. BrittanyNermie says:

    Libraries:

    A few libraries now offer video game rentals. Their selection is usually pretty small and they generally stray from anything rated mature. If your library doesn’t rent games go up to the librarians and ask them to acquire some! There are some classic games that have had more cultural impact than the music and movies your library (probably) already stocks. Many libraries are moving to embrace digital media and if you ask for it they’re pretty likely to look into it and move to acquire some games.

  64. stands2reason says:

    Buying used really is the best. Amazon.com is the way to go. I would seriously recommend against any brick and mortar store. They have terrible prices. For example, a couple of months after Halo 3 was out, Game Stop was still charging $55 for used copies, even thought it was available on Amazon for $40. And if there’s any older games missed out on, you’re in luck! I’m still surprised by variety of games (even current gen) that I can get for under $20-30.