Gaming is a fun but pricey hobby. Once you have a gaming PC or console, new titles can set you back about $ 60 each, plus the downloadable content many games now receive.
Luckily, there are ways to play games on a budget. Some of the most popular online multiplayer titles are free to play, as are popular esports titles. For everything else, though, you’ll have to pay up. The good news is that there are ways to make those purchases hurt a little less.
Bookmark These Pages
Finding games for cheap is less grab and go and more hunt and peck. Amazon is a popular go-to but for PC gamers, it’s all about Steam. If you’re on a budget, the site holds several big sales throughout the year, like the Summer Sale in June and Winter sale in December. Or add games to your wishlist; Steam will send you emails when they go on sale.
If you can’t be bothered to scour the web on your own, IsThereAnyDeal aggregates sales across the internet and can show you who has the cheapest price at any given moment.
On Reddit’s r/GameDeals, users vote for the best deals, pushing them to the top of the page. Major retailers tend to post their deals in this subreddit, too.
Twitter users can also look to @videogamedeals and @Wario64 for frequent updates about online video game deals. Just be ready to pounce when you find something you like. If you’re a gamer from the UK, SavyGamer can help you find some great sales in your area.
Buy Games in Bundles
Buying in bulk is a popular way to save money on all sorts of goods, including games. The trick is finding bundles that are worth your time.
Humble Bundle is a good place to start. It offers pay-what-you-want bundles on games, comics, software, and more and a portion of what you pay goes to charity. Humble Bundles rotate out every few weeks, but if you look at the right time, you can end up with new games for just a few bucks.
(Disclosure: PCMag parent company Ziff Davis owns Humble Bundle.)
Use Browser Extensions
Browser extensions offer up deals as you navigate your favorite sites.
The Enhanced Steam plugin highlights games you already own, which can be helpful when you have multiple DLCs for the same title. It also allows users to add more wishlist sorting options, like by dollar and percentage off. The extension will also compare prices from across the internet to ensure you get the best deal.
With Honey, just shop like normal and Honey will let you know if it has a coupon code to apply to your purchase.
Amazon Assistant will compare prices across the site to ensure you get the best deal and serve up notifications when something you are watching goes on sale.
Invisible Hand provides you with real-time price comparisons, and can find you the best deal right from your Google search.
Ebates can help you find promo codes, free shipping, and even cashback rewards when you shop.
When you shop at any one of the 10,000 Offers.com partner stores, this extension (Chrome, Firefox) will let you know when there is an offer available at that store. (Offers is also owned by Ziff Davis.)
Subscribe to Console Services
Music lovers have Spotify, anime fans use Crunchyroll, and comic book fans have Comixology. It’s only right that gamers have their own subscription service.
Microsoft Xbox users can subscribe to Xbox Live Gold, which offers access to online play, a new selection of digital games each month, and 50 to 75 percent off select titles. A subscription costs $ 9.99 per month or $ 59.99 per year. Or subscribe to Xbox Game Pass, which offers over 100 games for $ 9.99 per month.
PlayStation owners have PlayStation Plus, which offers online play, free games, and exclusive discounts for $ 9.99 per month or $ 59.99 for the full year. PlayStation Now grants you access to hundreds of titles in the PlayStation library for $ 19.99 a month.
Still in its infancy, Nintendo Switch Online is $ 3.99 a month or $ 19.99 per year. Subscribers get access to online play and a growing collection of classic Nintendo titles.
Try Third-Party Storefronts
Subscription services are also available from some third-party companies, though their value is up for debate.
EA Access is $ 4.99 a month or $ 29.99 annually for a library of EA titles, early access, and a 10 percent discount for Xbox games. EA’s Origin Access also offers many of the same benefits, at the same price, for PC games.
The Epic Games Store is a new storefront designed to compete with Steam. While it lacks most of the deal-tracking features of competitors, it does regularly offer free games. Check in every two weeks.
If you’re into game streaming, Twitch Prime gives you access to a monthly selection of free games, free game loot, and exclusive discounts. It’s part of Amazon’s Prime service, which runs $ 12.99 a month or $ 119 per year.
Utomik is a weird one. While it doesn’t offer many major titles or recent releases, it does have a deep selection of hard-to-find titles from Disney, Warner Bros., Sega, Epic Games, and more. It’s $ 6.99 a month or $ 9.99 for the family plan.
PC gamers don’t have as many choices as console owners do, but Nvidia’s GeForce Now lets you play many games for free. It’s available on Mac, PC, or the Nvidia Shield TV. Be warned, though, because there is a long waiting list for PC.
The better bet is to sign up for Humble Monthly, a curated selection of monthly titles that can be redeemed on Steam. Subscribe for $ 12 a month and get around $ 100 worth of games.
Get the Rewards You Deserve
We all love some extra money, so make your purchases work for you by signing up for a rewards program or two. My Nintendo, Microsoft Rewards, and Sony Rewards all allow you to collect points for making purchases or performing specific actions, which can then be applied toward digital purchases.
Win points by using Microsoft Bing and Edge, buying digital content with Xbox Live, and fulfilling other challenges. Sony gives you 1 point for every $ 1 spent in the PlayStation Store, but you can gain multipliers for subscribing to other Sony services on the PlayStation Network. Nintendo makes things simple by giving you 5 percent back for digital purchases in the eShop and 1 percent back on physical copies.
Retailers have rewards programs of their own. The My Best Buy rewards program offers points for every dollar you spend, which then can be redeemed. You earn 0.5 points per $ 1 spent, but the more you spend per year, the more points you can accrue per dollar, earning your way up to 1 point per $ 1 and 1.25 points per $ 1.
GameStop’s Power Up Rewards offers 10 points for every dollar you spend at your local GameStop location and gain access to exclusive sales. Pay $ 14.99 a year for the Pro version and get double points, discounts on pre-owned titles and accessories, and extra trade-in credit.
Give Renting a Try
Renting is an especially a good idea for titles you may not be convinced are worth paying full price.
With GameFly, you can rent one game at a time for $ 15.95 a month ($ 9.50 for the first three months), or two games at a time for $ 22.95 per month ($ 13.50 for the first three months). Thousands of games are available through this service, even for consoles no longer on the market.
If you have a Redbox in your area, you can rent major titles for $ 3 a day. Sign up for a Redbox Perks account and receive free rentals, as well as additional bonus points to redeem toward rentals.
Shop Used and Trade In
It’s hard to know what exactly you’re going to get if you shop used, but it’s a good option for budget shoppers. Amazon listings often include products sold by independent sellers, while sites like eBay, Shop Goodwill, eStarland, JJ Games, and even Craigslist can help you score a deal.
The other side of the coin is to be the one who sells their used games to make some extra money. If you have physical games you’re no longer playing, trade them in for money or credit. Amazon Trade-Ins offer money toward your next purchase. Obviously GameStop and Best Buy will take your games and consoles, but you can also use Decluttr, Second Spin, and Trade4Cash.
Trading in your old games won’t exactly bankroll your gaming hobby, but every little bit does help. To that end, check the internet before going in to make a trade so you’re sure you have the best deal. Price Charting tracks the price and trade-in value of video games, so have these numbers handy to compare against what you’re offered in-store. If you’re savvy enough, you might be able to get a free game every few months.
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