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Buying Video Games on a Tight Budget

Michael is a 2006 Graduate of Collins College and has earned a Bachelor of Arts in Game Design branching into IT/Coding Fields.

The one thing we have a limited amount of is cash, so make your purchases count.

The one thing we have a limited amount of is cash, so make your purchases count.

The gaming arena can be an expensive one, and just like any other form of entertainment, costs add up. But that doesn't mean you can't enjoy playing video games or games in general. Therefore, here are some things to consider when getting games on a tight budget.

Lots of Games, Little Cash

What a time to be alive. We have so many selections available in video games. And to top it all off, some of the most influential games are available to play. But despite the desire to play them all, our wallets/budgets kindly remind us that we can't always get everything at our leisure; along with time, money is one of the key factors in purchasing new games. Therefore, it is important to find the games that are right for not only your tastes, but your budget as well. Let's get started!

Find out Which Game Is Worth It

Getting specific games can be costly, so figure out which is the right one, or two or ten (should you save up enough). This is going to take some planning and saving up for these games. This part will explain the planning aspect.

What Genre Excites You?

Be it RPGs (role playing games), sports, or whatever . . . the truth of the matter is that this is an investment of not only your money but also of your time. Do you prefer games that have a deep single-player experience? Something that you can pick up and be immersed in their story? Or do you have a multiplayer preference, such as the latest sports game or fighting game? Do you prefer a tactical strategy or coordination game?

How Much Time Will You Spend Playing?

It's important to note that playing a game takes time, and so you have to get a game you know that you'll play for a while. Also, you may have to pace out how long you play that game if you have other responsibilities to handle first. A good rule of thumb is that for every dollar you spend on a game should equal an hour of worthwhile entertainment from that game. Meaning if you are spending $60 dollars, it should be at least 60 hours worth of entertainment from that game; any less and the value is not worth the price. Speaking of . . .

Understanding Your Options in Costs

Do you want to buy video games at all? Would board games or card games fit the bill? These are the types of questions that customers must always consider when making the best choice. Not all genres work for people, so focus on your personal preference, or play a friend's copy of that game before purchasing the game yourself.

"Freemium or Not Freemium; That Is the Question . . . "

Nothing beats a free game, but it's not exactly "free" with all access to content in the game. That's the catch; it's free to start, to get you in the door. To get the rest of the game, or certain features of the game, you would still have to pay for those items. That's a workaround to get people to demo their game without committing to buying the game that they might not enjoy later on. That said, it also gives a poor experience in that you only get a fraction of what the game has to offer. Some would argue that getting any access at no cost would be entitled, but that would invalidate the purpose of demos.

Better to Wait, Instead of Dealing With "FOMO"

The Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is a common tactic for multiple retail/consumer industries, but none so aggressive like the gaming arena where people keep getting launch releases at overpriced costs. This is compounded by the efforts of "influencers" that offer free advertisements (or sponsored exposure) to that game to persuade "consumers" to buy the game. The problem with this method is that the value of the game itself is depreciated faster than a new car from a dealership lot. This also means the quality of the game itself diminishes in that should you not be a part of this "trend" of purchasing, then it's too late to get the game at a later time. In the Now Generation, anything beyond yesterday is relegated to ancient history; games are no exception.

To Pre-Order or Not? DLC or Not?

Something that is very prevalent in our gaming culture is that of pre-ordering and DLC (downloadable content). These are some of the more controversial means of purchasing games due to their rocky history. That said, understand that the game is not complete nor released, so if you want to put money down, know that you won't get the game until after its scheduled release date (usually through a midnight release event). DLC is a different matter as bits of the game or entire sections were removed, thus they are sold back to the customers. To understand that gives you pause as to what games are worth purchasing.

Set the Cash Aside

Discretionary spending is a challenge for anyone that has no wiggle room, but it is possible to set money aside for games you want. These are some ground rules that need to be met when getting games on a tight budget:

  1. Your bills come first. Most online games require internet service, so you need to not only have that covered but also your electricity bill covered as well.
  2. Acknowledge the fact that the money you set aside is the endpoint of how much you are willing to spend. This includes any taxes and fees that come with purchasing the game. If it's freemium, focus on whether or not you are willing to spend that money on items provided OR have that money go somewhere else, preferably to cover the first point.
  3. The larger the amount desired, the longer it will take to acquire. Plan on getting a new console or PC upgrade? Then you may have to put in some extra hours at work. Don't have a job? Get one. While getting one, look for unique and trusted methods to get some small income on the side to help cover your needs, just like in the first point (see a pattern here?).
  4. Once you have the cash, make the purchase worth your while. Also, remember the effort to get the game in the first place. How you put in work and set aside the money for your favorite game. It then takes on a deeper meaning than just something to just pass time.

Your Money and Your Games Are Valuable

Your money is valuable, so make the games you buy just as valuable. Do you have a preference for a genre? Do you have an idea of the costs? Do you have money set aside? Once you have these ideas in mind, you can get a decent library of games that won't break your bank. It's a win-win situation for all players and developers.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Michael Rivers