The video game economy is a strange thing. On the one hand, the price of games have fluctuated very little over the years, and in some cases they’re cheaper than ever — remember paying $70-100 for certain SNES and N64 games? On the other hand, $60 is still a good chunk of change, and never is this more apparent than when the holiday season rolls around and you want to play every freaking thing.
So what’s the frugal gamer to do, then? Well, there are several things you can do, and because I’m such a swell guy I’ve rounded them up and put them in a post for you to peruse at your leisure. You probably still won’t be able to buy every single game that you want, but you’ll be able to save enough scratch to at least buy more than you could have without these tips.
Interested? Read on.
Know Publisher Patterns
Originally, the heading for this entry was going to be “Wait, Wait, Then Wait Some More,” but that advice isn’t always effective. While many games do drop in price within a few months, that doesn’t always happen.
If you want proof of this, look no further than Activision’s Call of Duty games. Since the games are in the NPD’s top ten in software sales each and every month, there’s no reason for Activision to ever lower the price of the games. In fact, the only time they do is when the next game in the series has already arrived. If you want to get your CoD on for cheap, you’ll either need a gift card or an extreme amount of patience.
Not all is lost, though, as there are publishers that not only discount their games, but do so rather quickly. Ubisoft games are a prime example of this, with their games being put on sale for $40 just weeks after release. It doesn’t even matter how well the game has sold; I’ve seen games such as Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands at a discount a month after they were out, even if just temporarily.
Above: AAA game releases can come cheap to those who wait.
Typically, most third-party publishers are quick to discount their games once they’ve slipped out of the NPD sales charts. EA usually does it within a few months; for example, Dead Space 2 now retails for $29.99, while Mass Effect 2 on PS3 is a mere $39.99 (or an outrageous $19.99 on Xbox 360). You can find Square Enix’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution for $45 on Amazon, while Rockstar’s L.A. Noire now sells for $40. Usually, it’s just a matter of time.
First-party games are usually a mixed bag. Out of the three major console manufacturers, Sony is the most consistent with discounting their games, although Microsoft is no slouch. Killzone 3 already retails at $40, and Halo: Reach does as well. Nintendo, though, is absolutely terrible in this regard. For example, they’ve only just reduced the price of games such as The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Super Mario Galaxy (the original, mind you), several years after their initial release.
Throw Your Retailer Loyalties Out the Window
It’s not always up to the game publishers when their games go on sale, though. The above mentioned Deus Ex: Human Revolution isn’t discounted everywhere, as the suggested retail price is still the usual $59.99. Instead, it’s just a matter of sniffing out a good deal.
Above: Current prices for DX:HR at Best Buy above, and Amazon below.
The first thing to do is throw your loyalties out the window. If you’re serious about saving some money, you’re going to be shopping at many different retailers, all the time. Amazon typically has great deals on games pretty much year-round, offering all-video game Lighting Deals and store credit on many preorders. Newegg has also made some great strides in terms of selling games for cheap, currently offering RAGE for preorder at $42.99 with a promotional code (EMCYTZT725 for those interested). Best Buy currently is offering a $100 gift card for preordering five select games under their Gamers Club Reward Zone program.
The point is, you’ll find games for cheap if you know where to look. But not everyone has the time to scour the internet for good deals, which leads me to my next point …
Get Good Information Sources
If you don’t have the time to look for game deals, that’s OK. You just have to know the people that do.
The most obvious place to look, and for good reason, is Cheap Ass Gamer. The site is filled with people that are looking to save a few bucks on the games that they love, and they’re more than happy to share their findings with their fellow CAGs. The website also has a Twitter feed, where the most popular game deals are passed along.
Above: Just a small snippet of what you’ll see on CAG’s Twitter feed.
In many cases, your best bet is to set up a Twitter account and follow the right people. Even if you’re not one for microblogging, Twitter is a tremendous source for breaking information, and finding great deals on games is no different. Besides the above CAG feed, I also recommend following both @amazondeals and @amazongames, while brick and mortar stores have helpful feeds such as @KmartGamer, @RZGamersClub, and @GameStop.
Of course, the community here at PlayStation University is also vigilant, and we’ve got a couple of forum threads dedicated just to posting game deals. We currently have threads for gamers in the United States and Australia/New Zealand, with the sole goal of saving money on the medium that we love so much.
Pass on Special Editions
Simple: Save the $10-40 that gets you useless knick-knacks that you’ll never use or look at, and apply it to your next game purchase instead.
Don’t Be Afraid to Buy Used
Finally, I saved the taboo entry for last. Not that it should be taboo to look for the best deal possible, but that’s the world that we live in.
There’s a lot of places to get used games, but it’s tough to top the deals that GameFly offers. To start, all of their used games are shipped with the original case and manual, something that you’re not guaranteed to get when you buy used games at GameStop. Their prices are also some of the absolute best around: You can buy Killzone 3 for $40 new, which is a fine price, or you can buy it used at Gamefly for just $19.99. Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is just $14.99. Brink? $9.99.
Above: Not bad considering you get the original case and manual, on top of free shipping.
Of course, you can also check places such as eBay, although there are some obvious risks there. We also covered a few alternatives to GameStop a while back, so be sure to check them out by clicking here.
The only trouble with buying used games these days is that publishers aren’t as enthusiastic about the market, and have implemented online passes that block some of the game’s content to discourage the practice. For most single-player games this isn’t an issue, but most multiplayer games these days require them. If you’re looking to buy a used game, look into whether or not you’ll be locked out of part of it.
Well, that’s all I’ve got for now. If you’ve got any other suggestions to help out your fellow gamers, share them in the comments below, or in the appropriate game deal threads for the US and Australia/New Zealand in our forums.