Playing with a budget

After finishing graduate school, I joined the unemployed and underemployed masses. I've thought about the price of gaming while waiting for that coveted job to come along. The cost of entry is high, and the cost of maintaining the hobby is often high as well. So how does someone continue to play new games without going broke?

Let's examine a few ways.

Shop for bargains

Like any person on a budget, I need to save money whenever possible. So I've had to alter my purchasing habits. I really wanted Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds and Mortal Kombat, but I knew that $60 a piece was far too much for me to spend.

With online-shopping incentives and some birthday money, I was able to snag both for about the price of one. For this to work, you need to be patient and resist the urge to pay for perks like same-day delivery. Following this strategy will help you get a lot more bang for your buck.


Replay your games

This is a simple idea, but one that I find most players surprisingly never think of. The temptation to drop everything and go for the newest title can be hard to resist. Always try to play your games a number of times. Set new challenges for yourself. Earn all the Achievements and Trophies. Get the most out of these experiences.

Trade with friends

Your friend has a game that you want, so borrow it or make a trade. When I was younger, my friends and I would arrange what we'd buy so that none of us would have the same releases.

Take advantage of downloadable games

Unlike many people reading this post, I still get a lot of traction out of my Wii because a variety of cost-effective titles are available for download. For $16, you can buy copies of Final Fantasy 3, Final Fantasy 6, and Chrono Trigger. Likewise, PC gamers can enjoy decently priced offerings and periodic sales on Steam. I prefer to drop $10 to $20 on a few downloads than $60 on a disc-based release.

Trade in some games

GameStop is the most well-known place that allows you to trade in old video games for store credit, but I still think it's a losing battle. Buy a game for $60, and they'll buy it back for $30 and sell it for $55.

Amazon and Best Buy are also trying to become players in this market, and their trading models are similar. I think it's best to avoid this route and spend conservatively. You could also consider rental services like GameFly.

So do you have any tips that will keep cost-conscious players out of the poorhouse? Post your thoughts below, and let's have ourselves a good discussion.

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