There are four video games I’ve enjoyed in my lifetime: Mario Brothers, Tetris, Sim City, and The Sims. When we got our Nintendo game system as children, we (including my father) used to play it until the machine became white-hot and stopped working. As teenagers we got a Super Nintendo, but were not so addicted to it (Mario Kart was a lot of fun). Then as a college student, I was introduced to The Sims by my roommate. Every few months I would get into it and play several times a week, and then I would tire of it.
I rarely play video games now. My husband plays perhaps 2-3 times per month on the weekends. When purchasing him a new video game for Christmas last year, I realized just how expensive a video game habit can be. Many adults play video games only occasionally, but if you have children, they might be glued to their Nintendo DS (I used to carry around a Nintendo Game Boy).
If you have a Gamer in your life, there are ways to curb spending on video games. I have offered a few ideas below. However, I am not a Gamer myself. If you have additional ways to save money (besides not playing video games at all—which certainly is a way to save money on video games!), please share in the comments below.
Play Free Games Online
There are many games available for free on the computer. Over 300 free games are available at miniclip.com. 1Up keeps a list of free online games ranging from puzzles to adventure, and Kongregate offers a huge listing (over 36,000) of free online games.
Trade Games with Other Players
You can borrow games from other people. If you do not know of others, you can trade games online at sites such as Goozex.com. This site allows you to trade your games and bank points you can later use to get the games that you want. There is a $1.99 transaction fee for each.
There are video game resell stores (GameStop is one of the largest) where you can purchase used. You can also find used video games for purchase at pawnshops, eBay, and Craigslist.
Rent Video Games
Renting video games may be a good option for you, depending on your gaming needs. Gamefly.com offers video games for rental. You can rent one game at a time for $5.95 the first month and then $15.95 per month thereafter. Two games at a time will cost you $22.95 per month. Redbox kiosks actually offer video games for $2.00 plus tax for one night. While this is not a lot of time to play the game, depending on gaming habits, you could save you a bundle. With Redbox, you can also google for promo codes for a free or discounted video game rental.
Become a Beta Tester/Game Tester
I am not sure of how many beta testers are out there, but I suspect that there is stiff competition to get one of these positions. Microsoft Playtest, only available in Redmond, WA, gives you a “gratuity” for participating (with the gratuity you can choose from a variety of PC and Console videogames). GameTester.com looks like a great resource to break into the beta testing market. BluesNews is a forum with a lot of updated information on demos, beta testing, etc. If you can swing it, this would be a great way to cut down on game purchases and still enjoy all of the newest games on the market.
Don’t Buy the Game: Download It
All three major consoles have downloadable games and include older titles as well as brand new ones. Check out Xbox Live, WiiWare, and PlayStation Network. Each offers a points card that parents can load and give to their children in order to purchase games online.
While we are talking about downloading, you can also download free video game music at www.ocremix.org, which offers both originals and remixes by fans.
Trade-In for Store Credit
You can trade in video games to help offset the costs of new ones (or used ones). However, I wouldn’t wait too long to do so. We attempted to trade in a bunch of Paul’s Xbox video games and the following were not accepted: Madden NFL ’07, Black Hawk Down, Scarface the World is Yours, Star Wars Nights of the Old republic, and The Godfather (the GameStop rep told us that they no longer accept Xbox games for trades).
We were able to trade in Xbox 360 game Mafia 2 for $20 at GameStop.