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Top 6 Essential Money-Saving Tips for PlayStation 4 Owners

Jeremy enjoys gaming when not helping manage the college he graduated from.

Star Wars Battlefront 2: good game, terrible cash cow

Star Wars Battlefront 2: good game, terrible cash cow

Saving Money for Games

As much as we love gaming, many consider it to be an expensive hobby. Modern systems cost hundreds of dollars, and then there's controllers, accessories, DLC (downloadable content), reoccurring online fees, and of course the games themselves, often $60 for a new copy. And don't even get me started on Super Smash Brothers' amiibos or Star Wars Battlefront 2's micro-transactions, which you've likely already heard complaints of in gaming news.

So yes, gaming can quickly empty your savings account, but through my numerous years of rescuing princesses and slaying dragons, I've learned many methods to minimize the expenses. Armed with the right knowledge, anyone should be able to play regardless of their income. Here are six crucial tips to help you get the most game for your buck!

PlayStation 4 with DualShock 4 controller

PlayStation 4 with DualShock 4 controller

6. Wait For Games to Drop in Price/ Buy Pre-Owned Games

As a gamer, patience is a virtue. Many games (especially non-Nintendo ones) slash their price tags in half or more just a year or two after their release, enabling cheap buys. Sure, this means you miss out on the initial wave of gaming enthusiasm for new titles, but for penny-pinching players like myself, that's a small trade-off for such large savings.

In fact, the famous gaming retail store GameStop periodically offers a "buy two pre-owned, get one free" deal that lets you save by buying in small bundles rather than individually. If you're skeptical of pre-owned items, you can add a warranty to most used games for only a few dollars more, and I promise you that 95% of my pre-owned items have functioned fine. It's only a small risk to obtain used items, but that brings us to our next pro tip...

Persona 5 game disc

Persona 5 game disc

5. Test Games Immediately

No one's going to have fun with a video game that they had to buy twice. As much as I trust most stores, just to be safe, when you buy a game (especially a pre-owned one), test it immediately. This both ensures pre-owned games, which may contain scratches or other defects, work properly and allows you to download any update data before you play, meaning you won't have your eagerness curbed by long wait times.

As of this writing, GameStop lets you return a pre-owned game for a full refund within seven days of your purchase. It also lets you exchange your item for a different used copy within 30 days of the sale, so be sure to hang on to those receipts. Heck, these first few tips work great for any gamer regardless of whether they're a Sony, Microsoft, or Nintendo fan.

Madison's always been "unique"

Madison's always been "unique"

4. Share Games With Friends

There's nothing quite like owning your own copy of a game, but experimenting with titles at a friend's house lets you decide whether to invest money in a title. Or, if it's a short game with low replay value that you only need to experience once, ask to borrow it to pay exactly $0 for a full gaming experience (be sure to return the favor and take good care of their lent items).

I can't tell you how many dollars I've saved by borrowing titles rather than buying them. Depending on who you know, you might even be able to sweet-talk your friend into lending you a whole system. You get my PlayStation 4 with its games for a week, I get your Xbox One. Shoot, my girlfriend would probably trade away my whole PlayStation collection for one borrowed Mario or Cooking Mama game.

PlayStation Store home page

PlayStation Store home page

3. Browse the Online PlayStation Store for Deals

Even if you're not a PlayStation Plus member (which accesses online play and other features for several games), your console can connect to the online network and browse the PlayStation Store for DLC, themes, and games themselves. The handy one-stop-shop often features discounted titles and other hot deals to both save you money and a trip to a physical store; entire games can simply be downloaded from the market once purchased, with no worrying over scratched discs or ketchup stains (I wish I was kidding).

Additionally, be sure to periodically examine the "free" section to nab a variety of goods (including full games) for zero-cost!

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Game Informer's Battlefield 3 cover

Game Informer's Battlefield 3 cover

2. Research Games Before Buying

We live in a wonderful world eager to share its plethora of knowledge. With just a few taps of your phone or clicks of your mouse, you have access to dozens of opinions on just about any game, and while reviews are subjective to an extent, they provide a general summary of what the community thinks of each title.

For instance, I greatly enjoy the DragonBall Z franchise, but it harbors a long history of hit-and-miss video games; I've saved hundreds of dollars by determining which titles were worth the investment through reviews. It helps to develop a purchasing plan, like only buying games with an average score of at least 6/10. Magazines like Game Informer keep you up-to-date with game reviews, upcoming titles, and more, but simple internet searches also bring you reviews from IGN and other respected gaming communities.

Gift Cards
If you're not a gamer yourself but have a child you wish to buy games for (that's great uncling/aunting right there), and are too lazy to undertake research yourself, consider sending your loved one GameStop gift cards. That way, they can buy whatever titles they want, ensuring you don't accidentally gift an undesired electronic present, and any fault for a bad game will now stem from their choice, not yours. Avoid the blame as they buy the game!

Applications take gigabytes; saved data only takes megabytes

Applications take gigabytes; saved data only takes megabytes

1. Make Room By Deleting Applications, Not Saved Data

Gone are the days of old memory cards, but a lot of non-techies aren't aware of the corresponding crucial difference between the PS4 and older consoles: you can delete a game from your system but keep its save data. This newer method lets you free up storage space and prevents you from having to spend your hard-earned cash on a bigger hard drive or other memory devices.

After turning your system on, you'll be at the hub page: go to system storage (under settings) and you'll see what I mean. The lion's share of your hard drive's space will be taken up many gigabytes of game applications; only a few megabytes are required for save data. In other words, you can keep all your saves while cycling through a few games at a time. Are you done with Far Cry 4 for now? Delete the application (and retain the save) to free up space, but if you eventually change your mind and want to boot up your old file, simply re-download the application and start right where you left off.

How Much Does a PlayStation 4 Cost?

As of now, you can find a new 500 GB console with one DualShock controller for $300 at many retailers (Kohl's and Best Buy), but Wal-Mart and other stores sometimes run them for a bit cheaper. You can also snag a hefty 1 TB PlayStation4 Slim from Amazon for the same $300 and free shipping.

Sites like eBay advertise used systems for under $200, but for such large purchases, I'd find some sort of warranted seller before buying used.

Future of Gaming

Like any hobby, gaming will inevitably consume some funds, but with the right cheat codes, you can indulge your passion for a surprisingly low price. One final piece of advice for PlayStation pros: always be wary of new fads that tend to fall flat (Microsoft's Kinect, Sony's PlayStation VR, etc.) to ensure you save your money for the real gems.

As we eagerly await the upcoming virtual reality future of gaming, which seems to promise complete immersion in our favorite titles (we'll see zombies like never before), vote for your favorite mainstream manufacturer, and I'll see you at our next gaming countdown!

© 2018 Jeremy Gill


Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on March 20, 2018:


Yes! Impatience is the biggest destroyer of funds when it comes to gaming. The concept also applies elsewhere, like with blu-rays, which can be watched repeatedly but cost about the same as a single-use movie ticket or two.

Ced Yong from Asia on March 20, 2018:

If you don't need to play the latest games, you sometimes get top selling titles in PS Plus for free.

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