save on video games

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.

Buy Used

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.

17 replies
  1. Lance@MoneyLife&More
    [email protected]&More says:

    My biggest thing is to wait till the game price drops. The big games always turn into greatest hits and drop around $30 to $40 from new price. The gameplay doesn’t change unless it is an online game and chances are even if it is there will still be a ton of people playing when the price drops.

    Reply
  2. Mich
    Mich says:

    You reminded of good times with Sim City. I, like you, am no longer a gamer for lack of time more than anything else. buying $60 games is very heavy on an average budget, your tips are great for saving gamers or parents hundreds per year!

    Reply
    • Amanda L Grossman
      Amanda L Grossman says:

      Oooohhh Sim City. Man those were the days:). I didn’t really get addicted to that game, but it was SO fun to play.

      That reminds me, I forgot all about Oregon Trail! I used to play that in school computer class.

      Reply
  3. Charlotte@YoungandCentsible
    [email protected] says:

    My brother has been able to earn a few gift cards on Swagbucks in just a few weeks by playing their free games for points 🙂
    I’m not a gamer either so to me it would be a waste of time but he already played free games so figured if he could earn something for it he should just go through their site..

    Reply
  4. Squeezer @Personal Finance Success
    Squeezer @Personal Finance Success says:

    I will go to Gamestop and make a list of what games I want and their prices on my cell phone. I will then price shop on Amazon to see if I can buy the game used through Amazon less expensively. If so, I go that route. Sometimes there is not much difference in price+shipping, so I will buy from Gamestop. You can also trade in used games at Gamestop for store credit or or cash. So, when I have a stack of games to trade in, I will exchange them all for a new game or two.

    Reply
    • FruGal
      FruGal says:

      Hi Squeezer!

      Thank you for sharing your comparison shopping strategy. I am always amazed at how much video games cost, so when you can shave off $10-$20 it feels great. We normally only buy them around Christmas time though (thank goodness!).

      Reply
  5. Brian Johnson
    Brian Johnson says:

    Thanks for sharing this Frugal. Me too actually. I used to have Super Nintendo given by my parents (duh!!) after Christmas Eve back then. My favorite game was Donkey Kong Country series. That game was just pure genius!! But now i’m not a hardcore gamer anymore.

    Right now, i prefer to play mobile games like smartphone or tablet games as most of these games are simple and are mostly cheap on app stores. I totally agree with your opinion. If we have console and still actively play it, the best advice would be not to buy tangible DVD games, but download it on Steam as the price will be cheaper.

    But it all depends on every gamer. If they can reduce their gaming habit, then sooner or later they will leave it and find something else to have fun with, like me with smartphone and tablet games.

    Reply

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