Getting old

20 01 2012

Hey guys, I’m writing to you today on the last ever day of me being a teenager, and it’s starting to make me feel old. However, today, as a nice introduction into true adulthood, I had to shovel out a bunch of money on a train, just to get home and visit family. This made me feel rather poor, and started to make me think about how I ever manage to keep up my oh so expensive hobby that is gaming. So I thought I’d bring you a 3 part guide to gaming on a budget. Firstly, today I have written you guys the methods I use to save money on gaming and get all those wonderful games to play. Then, over the next two days I shall post up A) a list of the best games of 2011 you may not have played/heard of   and B) a list of great games to get for under £10.

A Student’s Guide: Gaming on a Budget

Well, being a student in this day and age means one thing for sure, a severe lack of money to go around, so I have had to learn how to game on a very small budget. Today, being the lovely person I am, I’m going to share these tips on how I manage it with you guys. Hope you enjoy, and as always, feel free to leave comments and tell me how you guys save those pennies when gaming.

Time is your greatest ally

Well, I mean really, this one kinda goes without saying, but don’t go out buying all those games on release day. Games that may cost £40 on release will quickly drop in price to £20-30 within the space of about of a month, and although this may not sound like much at the time, if you make up to £20 saving every time you buy a game, it will certainly add up, and let you buy twice as many games. However, if there is a game that you really want to get on release, and you can’t bear to wait any longer, then I would actually recommend going out on a limb and pre-ordering it, as often you get little bonus content for showing your loyalty to the game. Another good tactic is to try and go to the midnight launch for the title, as often, specialist game retailers will also give out little incentives with the game to promote their midnight launches (for example, I got given 800 MS points free at the launch of Gears of War 3 at GAME).

Be Independent

By this of course, I mean that you should start playing more indie games. With many of the bigger indie titles offering as good a gaming experience as retail games (titles like Minecraft, bastion and super meat boy spring to mind), but only costing a fraction of the price, many of them can be a steal. With Xbox Live, PSN and WiiWare getting in on the indie action, it has never been easier to get your hands on these great titles, and plus, many of these developers may grow to make your next favourite blockbuster game, we just need to support them now as well, whilst they are still growing.

Timing is everything

Now, although you may only need to wait several weeks for retail games to drop in price, downloadable titles are a bit more stubborn when it comes to their price point. However, there is a way to get around this, and that my friends, is sales. With the holidays having just passed, many of you may have noticed huge price drops in some amazing, downloadable titles, and this gives you the perfect opportunity to grab those games you’ve been meaning to get, but haven’t wanted to fork out the cash for. For example, the holiday steam sale was magnificent, with many titles dropping in price by more than 50% for almost a whole month, and then the daily deals crunching those even further, to the point where some games were 80+% off their normal prices, you’d have to be crazy to not take advantage. The trick with these sales is to wait until the last day to buy anything you want, because at any point it could turn out to be part of the daily deals (which is when you really want to buy them). It’s not just the holidays to watch out for though, sales can happen at any point throughout the year, and with most services offering special deals every week/weekend, you have to stay vigilant, otherwise you may miss out on some fantastic deals.

Saving you a bundle of moneys

Buying in bulk

With all of these fantastic services offering us our games at great prices, many developers need ways to make their games stand out. It seems that right now, bundles is the next big thing. With things like the ‘humble indie bundle’ offering you a great selection of games, at a price point of your choosing (although you get more games if you pay more than the average price paid, which is usually around $6/7, which is a steal for 7/8 great titles), you can’t really go wrong, even if you only like 1 or 2 of the titles, you’re still paying way below the odds (often the value of these bundles is around $100), and as a nice little touch, they let you choose how much of your payment goes to the developer, with the rest going to charity. It’s not just indie developers that are doing this either. When on steam, you may notice that many developers are offering all of their games in one huge bundle, at a slightly discounted price. Wait until the sales however, and you can grab some bundles worth £300+ for less than £100, and you don’t need me to tell you, that’s a bargain.

Start subscribing

With services like Lovefilm becoming more and more common, renting games has never been easier. Pay a subscription fee (packages range from roughly £5 to £20 a month) and you can start renting all of those titles you’ve been meaning to play, without having to buy any of them. I will say this much however, although this may be good for you wallet, I will still plead you on a moral basis to not use this method, as it leaves the developer severely out of pocket, meaning that in the future they may not be able to make any more of their amazing games for you. However, in an attempt to try and be as informative and useful as possible, I am obliged to tell you this, as it is genuinely a great way to save some cash.

pay for one game, get two... o.O

One man’s trash is another’s treasure

Like my last point, I will urge you to stay away from this tactic as often as possible, because those lovely developers gain nothing from this method either. However, used games is truly a great way to save huge amounts of your precious money With most game retailers offering other peoples unwanted games at discounted prices, this can be another method of picking up newly released titles at a fraction of the price, with games pricing at about £5-10 cheaper than their freshly packaged siblings. Buying used games is also often your only option if you are hunting down some old classics that you missed out on…speaking of which…

Respect your elders

Tracking down older games can be a great way to use up your time while you are waiting for those new games you’ve got your eyes on to drop in price. Searching round the internet for some good games you may have let pass you buy over years gone by can be one of your greatest options. The only problem can be buying them, as many retailers may have stopped selling these games by the time you try to acquire them, leaving you with no other option than to try and see if one just happens to be sitting in the pre-owned section of your local stores, or leaving you to try and win a tense bidding war for some lucky seller’s version of the game.

How could you possibly resist?

 

They’re called ’hidden gems’ for a reason

Chances are, that at some point down the line, there have been a few stellar titles that you will have never even heard of. With many of these great games dropping to ridiculously low prices really quickly due to lack of sales, going for un-noticed games is truly one of your best, and most satisfying bets. With many of these games dropping to as low as £10 within 4-6 weeks of release, you can find yourself buying 3 or 4 fantastic titles for the price of one, and all of them can be sparkling new in the process. The only catch however is that you’ll have to hunt them down. Scrounge around the internet and do you homework (a good place to start is looking for peoples ‘best games you may not have played’ lists etc.). However, if you keep seeing games crop up on a number of these lists, it’s probably a good sign that you should be trying them out, maybe try seeing if any of them have demos to try them out, make sure if they are the right game for you.

Friends do have their uses

If all other options fail you, maybe find a friend that is as big a gamer as you, and strike some sort of deal with them, in which you both borrow games from each other (it’s only fair they get something from you too). Again, this does short change developers, but maybe if you both strategically plan games to buy new, with the plan to lend them to one another, and everyone benefits. Just make sure you check how well they take care of their own games before you start trusting them with your precious possessions. After all, games are for life, not just for Christmas.

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