A Gamer’s Guide to Penny Pinching
Games are an expensive hobby. No matter if you’re in the PC nobility, console peasantry, or multi-platform master race, be prepared to shell out some serious cash for the best experience possible. DLC, loot boxes, and other microtransactions certainly don’t help a person’s wallet either. Luckily, being a poor college grad has helped me learn a few things about how to get the best deals for my gaming needs. Let me share a few saving tips for my fellow gamers.
Know Your Games
In this day and age, microtransactions rule nearly everything. I talked previously about identifying the harmless from the harmful. Knowing what monetary system is in place in a game is crucial for saving money. Let’s use Shadow of War as an example. Say you loved the first game, Shadow of Mordor, and couldn’t wait to have more adventures in Middle Earth. Including taxes, Shadow of War has a $64 price tag. For that price, you get the base story, characters, equipment, etc. But what’s this you see? A marketplace for loot boxes? But the first game didn’t have any!
The marketplace also has a concrete gameplay function. In Shadow of War, you can build a whole army of Uruk followers. War chests allow you to gain high-level followers to command your army. The silver war chests can be obtained using in-game currency, but gold or better will cost the player real money. How bad is it?
The lowest option is 500 gold for $3. The highest is 10,000 for $80. You’re basically buying the whole game and a half just to have a decent army. “Forget that!” you think, and decide to go it the good old-fashioned way. That’s all well and all….until the final act. The game forces the player to grind to a stop. The player needs to build up a high-level army if they want to continue to the ending. Unfortunately, going about it the free way means tons and tons of non-stop capturing, leveling, grinding tedium. It’s so bad, players decided to watch the ending elsewhere rather than put up with it.
The point I’m making here is simple: Do the research. Is the game you’re looking to play riddled with microtransactions? If so, what kind? Are they game-changing or cosmetic? Will your experience by jeopardized by not buying loot boxes? These simple questions can help you decide whether a game is worth buying or not. And if you do buy a game with microtransactions, decide whether the extra bit of content is worth your extra cash.
Steals, Deals, and Reveals
Businesses love getting their hands on people’s money. It’s kind of their thing. To do so, they often try to outdo their competitors in terms of hot deals, rewards, or exclusives. This can work in favor of the poor gamer. Let’s look at GameStop first.
GameStop offers people their PowerUp Rewards program. This comes in three flavors:
- Basic – free membership. 10 points for every $1 spent.
- Pro – $14.99/year. 20 points for every $1 spent. 10% off pre-owned, trades, and collectibles.
- Elite Pro – $49.99/year or free with $750 spent within a year as a Pro member. 20 points for every $1 spent. 20% off pre-owned and collectibles.
If you shop at GameStop often, starting off with a Pro membership and upgrading to Elite Pro as you go isn’t a bad deal. It certainly helps with getting discounted pre-owned games; however, new games retain their price tag.
How about Best Buy?
Best Buy offers the Gamers Club Unlocked membership program. This includes:
1) 20% off new, physical games.
2) 10% off pre-owned games.
3) 10% bonus trade-in credit.
4) 2x points on video game trade-ins.
…and much more. You can find the complete list here.
Personally, I prefer the Best Buy deal. It’s $30 for a two-year membership, and buying three games automatically pays it off. The downside is that Best Buy doesn’t have the vast library of collectibles that videogame-centric GameStop does. Still, for the average gamer, losing out on a Cappy hat means little.
Let’s check Amazon.
Amazon currently offers Prime members a 20% discount on all new games within 2 weeks of release. A person only needs to be a Prime member, and that is $12.99/month. It’s similar to the Best Buy program but with fewer perks for an avid gamer. If you’re looking for new games to play and already have a Prime account, then Amazon has you covered for simple purchases.
New vs. Pre-Owned
This seems like an obvious one, but many people struggle over what to get. New games mean no one has touched it. Untouched means mint condition. Mint condition means nothing can go wrong. On the other hand, “pre-owned” means the game has been used. It could be scratched or damaged in some way. There’s a risk involved in buying pre-owned games. Except not really. Most retailers have a policy regarding returning pre-owned games within a certain amount of time. GameStop, for instance, allows a person to return a pre-owned game, no questions asked, within a week of purchase. Break it, set it on fire, play Frisbee with it, eat it, slice up your ex’s car with it, etc. So long as you bring it back within the week, you get your money back.
On the flip side, new games often see deals released to make buying them new more appealing than buying them pre-owned. When Call of Duty: WW2 was released, GameStop sold the game for $40 new. A used copy sold for $54. This had the function of letting players have the popular game for cheaper (while also preventing refunds for the stores to deal with). Make sure to check out what your local retailers’ deals are for pre-owned and new games. If you want to play and return, buy pre-owned and get your one week fix. Then return the game and get your money back.
Hopefully, these tips will help make budgeting for hot releases a little easier on the wallet. And hey, if all else fails, become a game reviewer. They get paid to call Sea of Thieves innovative.