In recent years, the gaming industry has grown to a point where it stands toe-to-toe with the movie industry. In fact, more and more games are beginning to feature the voices of Academy Award winning actors and actresses and these roles are appearing as part of their resume alongside blockbuster hits. In many ways, games have become an entertainment medium that combines the art of storytelling and the budget of major potion pictures with an interactive environment only a game can provide. With some titles costing users between $40 and $60, there is no question that gamers have had to make room in their budgets for these games. Here are some tips on how to save money on computer games:
Buy Digital Copies
Online game retailers like Steam and Direct 2 Drive frequently have incredible deals on games. This is due in part to the lessened overhead often associated with traditional brick-and-mortar retail. For example, a big retail store has to pay for a lot more than its merchandise. It needs to cover logistics, paying staff in the warehouse and sales floor, stocking, accounting at each location, cashiers, lighting, air conditioning, taxes, etc. All of these things are put aside when dealing with a cloud-based service. Bandwidth is cheaper than physical transportation, and these savings are usually passed on to the customers during these big sales. It isn’t uncommon to see a new game go for 50%-75% off online while retail stores have to maintain a specific profit margin just to stay in business.
Don’t Purchase Right Away
As much as you’d like to buy a new game on opening weekend, hold off if you’re on a strict budget. You’ll be surprised how quickly a game will go on sale or experience a price drop after it comes out. Think of the gaming business like the movie business. After a month or two, the newness of the product dies down and sales begin to kick in so latecomers will be enticed to make the purchase. If you can be patient, be patient.
Take Advantage of Pre-Order Deals
If you’re less inclined to wait, try to get in on any pre-order deals that may come your way. Retailers and even primary distributors will often offer some incentive for making a pre-order. Even if it’s just 10%, it can help cut the price down on more expensive titles quite a bit. You can put that extra savings towards a new game next time.
Consider Actual Expected Play Time
At some point, you need to put a value on the amount of time you actually get to spend playing the game. If you’re buying a game that allows you to play against other people online for free for an unlimited amount of time, you may get more hours out of the title than you would on a game with a set storyline that plays out over an average period of time. For example, people who buy Neverwinter Nights and play on custom campaigns or persistent worlds might end up playing for months while Dragon Age puts you through a set campaign that may or may not hold your interest past a few play-throughs.
If a demo of the game you’re considering purchasing is available, download it and give it a go. This will give you the opportunity to find out if the game is actually something you’ll have lasting interest in and give you a chance to cut through the marketing. Marketing makes even the worst games seem appealing and playing something yourself gives you a much more realistic take on what a specific title has to offer you for your money. This especially goes for MMOs and other subscription-based games. If the company wants people to make an initial investment plus pay a monthly subscription, its games had better be good.
Overall, gaming can be an expensive hobby, but it doesn’t have to put you in the poor house. Finding the perfect game for long-term enjoyment can be difficult with so many options out there (and so few of them really any good). If someone is offering a good deal on something, take a look at it and see if the deal is the result of poor sales from a bad game or a legitimate special offer that will work out for you.