This post has not been edited by the GamesBeat staff. Opinions by GamesBeat community writers do not necessarily reflect those of the staff.

Editor's note: William's guide to online shopping contains some useful information for those of you looking to score sweet game deals on the Web. What sites do you use to buy games? -Brett

Buying online

The Internet is a wonderful thing, is it not? It has dramatically changed the way we communicate with each other, how we interact contextually with the world, and most importantly — to this guide, at least — how we spend our money on video games.

Any savvy consumer knows that great deals abound on the Web. But how to sort through all of the crap to find the best places to buy online? A handy guide like this one, that's how! Read on to find which online shopping site is best for you.


But first, some dos and don'ts.


  • Look at your options: The Internet can be a big, scary beast, with an abundance of options suiting the needs of many types of people. Before you sign on with a specific purchasing option, be sure to decide what type of gamer you are, how often you play new titles, and what kind of services you are comfortable with. If you’re without a credit card, many of the choices available in the online realm may not be for you… unless you’re able to con your parents into assisting, of course.
  • Know your price threshold: A good thing to keep in mind before any purchase online is how much money you are willing to spend on any given item. This is not only a good general rule of thumb for those of you with maxed-out credit cards, but it will also keep you from contracting the dreaded "buyer’s remorse."
  • Be patient: Keep in mind that most anything you buy online is going to take some time to arrive at your doorstep. Even the fastest shipping method won't get to you until the next day. If you need a new game right now, then buying online may put a bad taste in your mouth.


  • Be afraid to do a bit of research: Sometimes, a guide can't provide you with all of the information you need. So, like any good consumer, be sure to look around online for opinions from other like-minded individuals. A second opinion or another set of eyes are never a bad thing.
  • Trust anyone: This may be "Online Shopping 101," but always keep in mind that anything typically you put on the Internet can be seen by someone if they want it bad enough. As a general rule, I don’t save my credit card information on sites that ask you to. For a few of the services, this is unavoidable (such as any that require a monthly subscription fee), but for the most part the best thing you can do to protect yourself is to not leave sensitive information laying around.

Now that I've covered the ground rules, let's jump into the services at your disposal. Please keep in mind that I am ranking these in usefulness based on the order they appear here.

Gamefly logo


  • Positives: Fast delivery, guaranteed game quality, free shipping and handling, meaningful user reviews, used games cheaper than at retail
  • Negatives: Steep subscription fee for some, frustrating change of service option, somewhat shallow used-game selection

Gamefly is a service a lot of people have probably heard about but have no real experience using it. I can say honestly that Gamefly has not only brought me back into gaming but also changed the way I game.

Gamefly is a game delivery subscription service akin to what Netflix does with movies. Users fill out a queue of games they would like sent to them, and then the games are sent to their homes. You can keep the titles as long as you want (as long as you pay the monthly subscription fee). Great, right? It gets better.

My favorite service Gamefly provides is one that not many know about: their used and new game store. Did Gamefly send you a game you decided you would like to keep? For a used game price, they will send you the original box and instruction booklet and let you keep the game. Not only that, but Gamefly has a used game section of their site with a rotating selection of used and new titles. I managed to buy Assassin’s Creed 2 for PS3 the other weekend for $12 (after a $5 coupon that subscribers earn just by being members). And the best part is, shipping and handling is free.

However, there are a few downsides to Gamefly worth mentioning. The most glaring negative aspect for some will be the subscription fee. I have a two-games-at-a-time subscription that runs me around $23 a month. Also, if you want to change your subscription type, you are forced to go through a few menus just to find out that changes aren't applied to your account until the end of the month, any changes you make can be immediately changed back if you have too many (or not enough) games out at the time the change is applied by the system. It’s a pain.

That said, I’ve gotten to play more games in six months than I have in almost three years. I wholeheartedly approve this service.

Amazon Logo


  • Positives: Amazing deals on relatively new titles, trusted name in online shopping, large selection of used titles
  • Negatives: Used titles aren’t always guaranteed best condition, quick delivery can be costly, may gave to wait a long time for a good deal

Amazon is known for letting you buy just about anything you'd want with just a few clicks. Want groceries delivered? Looking for kid’s toys? Looking for sex toys? DVDs? Amazon is the place for you.

The real draws of Amazon for gamers are their deals of the day and the discounted sales they have throughout the year. For example, the deal of the day as of this writing is God of War 3 for $37. Certainly can’t beat that. Of course, the drawback to this feature is that the deal is different every day, and sometimes it’s for a game you don’t want.

Also, remember what I said earlier about sites saving your credit card info? Beware.

If you’re looking for a wide range of selection, Amazon can certainly fit your needs. This is especially true if you’re looking for a more conventional big-box shopping experience in the online sphere.

Steam Logo


  • Positives: Wide selection of PC titles, free demos for many games, great selection and pricing on older titles
  • Negatives: Requires a stable and fast Internet connection

Steam is a digital distribution service that doesn’t apply to you console folk out there. But if you’re a PC gamer, then Steam is your service supreme. In a retail world where PC games have became second-tier sales items, Steam offers choice and flexibility for those of you inclined to do your game playing with a keyboard and mouse.

The only real negative to Steam is that the massive amount of data you’re downloading requires a pretty solid Internet connection (satellite Internet users need not apply).

The only reason I’ve ranked Steam so low is due to the fact that is leaves non-PC in the dust. Maybe someday Steam can grow into console gaming as digital distribution becomes more prominent. For now though, only computer gaming can benefit.

eBay logo


  • Positives: Cheap prices… if you’re patient and tenacious
  • Negatives: Buyer beware

I don’t think I have to explain eBay all that much. After all, who doesn’t know someone that hasn’t bought a chewed piece of gum that looks like the Pope or a pair of Britney Spears' underwear off the Internet auction site?

Really, one word sums up all you need to know about eBay: auction. Sometimes you can find a great deal if you’re willing to stick with a bid. Other times, you’ll have to pay out the ass for something because of supply and demand. The real positive to eBay is that I’m quite sure you can find anything you’re looking for.

But, as per usual, be careful whom you trust on eBay. As a victim of an eBay scam in the past, I can say from experience that you really need to ask questions and know the seller of an item before you get in too deep.

Craiglist Logo


  • Positives: Cheap prices, personal interaction with the seller
  • Negatives:You may feel like taking a shower after making a deal, buyer beware

If eBay is the auction house of the Internet, then consider Craigslist to be the flea market — or possibly the dark alley behind the grocery store in town. If you’re looking for something, I’m sure you can find it on Craigslist. But, more than any of the other services I’ve listed here, you MUST. BE. CAREFUL.

Some shady people exist on Craigslist, so, as with any Internet endeavor, take the utmost care and caution.

In closing, I hope this guide has shed some light on the online options available to today’s gamer. No longer must we stick with the manufacturer's suggested retail price that brick-and-mortar store want us to pay. Now go forth and buy cheap!