In the first three months of 2012, a study from The NPD Group showed that consumer spending on video games was down about 15% compared with the first three months of 2011. Even though people still spent $4.8 billion on video games, systems, and accessories, 15% is still a big drop.
Maybe it’s because more people are learning to bargain shop for their video games. If you’re on a tight budget but don’t want to give up your gaming habit, here are five tips to help you get better video game deals so you can afford to keep on playing:
1. Consider game rental
If you’re not guaranteed to love a game and to put lots of play time into it, consider renting it from a place like Gamefly. While long-term rental turns out to be more expensive than buying the game, sometimes, the average gamer only plays a game for a month or so before dropping it like it’s hot. If you think you’ll beat a game quickly or get bored with it easily, rental is probably the cheaper option. If you want to keep the game for the long-term, though, use some of the other steps below.
2. Use coupons for games you have to have
Sign up for mailings from your favorite game stores so that you’ll have coupons to use for games that you’ve just got to have. This is especially valuable for brand new games. Sometimes a few weeks after a launch, a great coupon will come out that will save you big money on a game. Plus, you can sometimes save up store points at certain stores, and those points can also give you discounts on future purchases.
3. Know when stores have the best game deals
Stores like Target and Wal-Mart work game sales into their regular sale rotations, so it pays to pay attention to these store circulars. Often times, they’ve already got lower prices on the most popular games of the day. When you can find those games on an even better sale, you’ll save big. One thing to note, though, is that Target and Wal-Mart carry a limited number of copies of popular games. Make sure you jump on the sale ASAP to get the good deal before it’s gone.
4. Buy used whenever you can
You can get used video games with guarantees from stores like GameStop, Amazon, and Disc Replay. They’ll often save up 50-80% off the original game retail price. Of course, you can’t always get the latest games this way, but if you wait just a few months, people who bought a new game at release will be trading it on to play the next big game. Just a little patience can save you a ton of money. Be wary of buying off of places like Craigslist, though, unless you can test a game before buying it. And if you buy used on eBay, only work with sellers with lots of reviews and an excellent reputation.
5. Trade in or resell old games
Part of being a bargain game hunter is leveraging your stash of old games, instead of just letting them sit there collecting dust. If you haven’t played a game in a few months, trade it in or resell it. Reselling a game through Amazon, eBay, or Craigslist can get you a little more money, but it also takes a bit more work. If you trade games in at your local GameStop, keep the credit in your account until a new game comes out that you really want, instead of just spending your credit because it’s there to spend.