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Who doesn’t like playing video games? It’s no surprise that over 150 Million Americans play video games and 64% of households have at least one video game player who plays regularly. Now combine that with the fact that Americans spent $36 billion dollars on video games last year and you have a huge money funnel happening.
Since we’re about saving money here at Frugal For Less, I’ll show you 8 ways to be able to play video games on a budget.
1. Cut Back
This has got to be the most obvious step and the hardest one to accomplish. Simply cut back on your video game shopping. The average cost of a video game is around $60 with some as high as $155, for the Pokémon Black DS game.
There are some simple ideas on how you can cut back:
- Limit the number of video games you can buy in a period
- Create a budget category and set some money aside (only with what’s left after necessities are covered)
- Create a rule that for every new game you get, you need to sell 2 old ones (use the money from this towards the new game too)
- Ask for it as a gift during holidays
2. Earn It
Earn some money for video games by using a variety of apps and websites to earn money or points towards a new gift card toward those video games.
Several apps that offer video game gift card rewards include:
- InBoxDollars – Gift cards for iTunes, GameStop, Google Play, Playstation, Steam, and Xbox
- MyPoints – Gift cards for Facebook, Google Play, GSN Cash Games and iTunes
- Swagbucks – Gift cards for iTunes, Playstation, Google Play, Steam, GameStop, and Facebook
- CashCrate – Gift cards for iTunes and Apple
Another option is to earn money by playing games. How cool is that? Play games, earn, buy the games you want – it’s simple as that.
Here are a few sites:
- GameKit – Rewards points to gamers for playing games and completing small tasks
- HQ – Answer trivia questions live for great prizes (average is $5,000).
- Swag IQ – Part of Swagbucks and is a Trivia game competition
- CashPoint – App that pays to play mini-games
Use several Apps at once and you’ll be getting new video games for free in no time.
3. Wait on it
Before running out and buying the newest release of a game, just wait on it.
Several things can happen when you decide to wait:
- You may see bad reviews of that game – you saved yourself money and effort
- Waiting for a later release may be better after developers have fixed bugs and errors
- Other games have played through the game and are selling it – you get what you wanted at a cheaper cost
- Price gets reduced – some new release prices become lower as the game loses popularity
- Hype has worn off – just with every impulse buy, wait on it and the urge to get it may pass
Waiting a while on everything pays off money-wise in the long run. Be patient.
4. Buy Used
Like I mentioned in the previous listing you could get a used version of a recent release by waiting a while. There are several other sources for buying used games such as:
- eBay – One of the best places to buy games, consoles, and accessories
- Local Buy, Sell & Trade Listings – Local listings near you available
- Craigslist – Again, these can be local too, but less trustworthy & take safeguards
- GameStop – Good place for finding older games
- Amazon – Has a whole section for used games, consoles, and deals.
There’s nothing wrong with buying a used video game, it still plays the same as a brand new one.
5. Have a Co-op
Do you have a group of local friends who love playing video games? Why not start a game co-op with each other?
Many consoles such as the PS4 and the Xbox One require full uploads of games before they’re playable – take advantage of this and pass the game to your friends and borrow one from them. Like a lending library.
Three more options to do with friends are:
- Everyone chips in on a new game purchase – $20 from 3 friends – for a new game
- Have a buying schedule – one friend buys a brand-new game in October, friend #2 buys in November, and friend #3 buys in December
- Make it competitive – the loser of a competition between friends has to buy the next new game
6. Rent Them
There’s also the option to rent video games for a period of time. This gives you the chance to test drive them out first before going ahead and buying it, or just to be able to play them for a while without cluttering your collection and affecting your budget.
There are not very many places you can rent video games, but they do offer a large choice:
- GameFly – rent over 9000 games & movies from $16/month (1 Game a month) to $37/month (4 Games a month)
- RedBox – rent video games for $3 a day. (Bonus: get promo codes for free rentals)
GameStop used to have a rental service called PowerPass, but that got shelved.
7. Cheaper Alternatives
Instead of always playing on your console, try some cheaper alternatives instead. These alternatives offer some great games as well.
Some of these are:
- Steam – Makers of great games such as Half Life and others, are frequently offering sale prices on their games and other great deals. My son got 5 games for a donation of $20 to charity.
- GOG – Older classic games as well as indie games can be found here. Frequently has sales too and possible to get games for up to 80% off.
- Green Man Gaming – Online game portal for a variety of gaming options, console, online, free to play and more. Has many discounts and flash sales (such as 15% off the new Hitman 2 game)
These are just some of the few online gaming platform “stores” available, all you need to do is do a search online to find a few more and pick your preference.
8. Sell Old Ones
Remember I mentioned a good way to save for new video games is to have a rule that 2 old games must be sold before getting a new one and that money can also go towards the new game? Here are several ways to sell them:
- Trade-in on Amazon – The Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 can be traded in for $34 (Brand new it’s $58)
- Trade-in at Best Buy – The same game can be traded in for $26.40
- Trade-in at GameStop – The same game can be traded in for $27.50 store credit or $22 cash
- Trade-in at Walmart – The Black Ops 4 version wasn’t available, but the new Red Dead Redemption 2 was available for $26.29 (brand new is selling for $59)
Sometimes it helps to hunt around and to find the best value available.
Playing video games is a good stress reliever and a great way to unwind at the end of a long busy day. But if you get carried away with playing and buying games it will only add stress to your life – both mentally and financially.
The average length of time spent playing video games is about 20 hours per week, with the extreme players playing up to 50 hours! You could be using some of that time making money with a side hustle, or spending it with your family and friends.
So, play in moderation, budget well, exchange with friends or get games in many other ways instead of buying brand new and you will save big on your video game budget.
Here are a few more articles on video games: