Frugal Gaming Guide

Some may call us cheap, I like to think we’re conniseurs of keeping cash.  Any way you put it everybody is looking to save a buck here or there.  This is your guide to becoming a super frugal gamer.  Hit the jump for your Frugal Gaming Guide!

1. Research

This is absolutely the most important step.  Before you click “buy”, go and quickly checkout the competitors to see what they are offering.  Steam is not always the best deal.  Gamestop is not the only game vendor.  Where I personally have found myself at many times is Amazon, they consistently give bonus credits and slash prices on a regular basis, but even then I’ve found better prices elsewhere at times.

Some sites you may not have visited that I highly recommend checking out before your next purchase :

Research can also be as time-consuming as you need it to be,  you might just need to browse 3 sites or you can swim through deal threads on gaming forums.  Don’t forgot the power of craigslist, people not only sell for the cheap, they also are very willing to trade for something else in your library, maybe something you aren’t playing anymore.  Just remember that time itself is also money, so spend it wisely.


2. Buy Vanilla

I love getting extra goodies and those limited/epic/ultra/elite editions of games they make these days are always extremely tempting.  Well, call it sticker-shock, but I’m not shelling out 150 big ones for a 3-page art book.  These editions are for gamers who want to show off how much money they can waste on useless goods; in other words they’re the yuppies of the gaming community.  That light-up Marcus Fenix statuette looks like it would make a great addition to your office desk, but after the initial first day amazement wears off, its just going to be a huge light-up paper weight.


3. Release Timing

Clearly excited about buying Just Dance 3 day one

This is an industry based around the release date.  It accounts for the majority of game sales for any major title, so marketing and sale of a game is based primarily around that specific date.  The more sales on or around that date are the absolute most important, so they will attempt to boost these sales as much as possible.  What this means for the frugal gamer is that you should plan ahead instead of just showing up for the midnight release.  Full price for a game where there are little to no extras thrown in is usually on release day and slightly before and after it.  Most of the savings occur right outside of this window.

I’ve broken down the typical stages for most major releases:

  • 5+ weeks before release date -> These are the diehard fans buying, companies offer little to no discounts and usually a small trinket for being loyal (t-shirt, hat, worthless DLC)
  • 2-4 weeks before release date -> Companies want to boost pre-sales numbers as much as humanly possible.  Decent discounts on price are offered in addition to robust extras (gift cards, posters, slightly better DLC)
  • 1 week prior to release -> Advertising is now on overdrive and does most of the work, discounts are few and far between, worthless DLC usually offered.
  • Release week -> Expect nothing in discounts or extras, its game time and companies are biting their teeth wondering how well they will do.
  • 3-4 weeks after release -> Discounts begin to crop up depending on how well the first week went, may also see occasional tie-ins to other game deals.
  • 4+ weeks after release -> Assuming it isn’t a mega-hit, this game has pretty much dropped off the radar and wildly turns into Midnight Cowboy to turn tricks in exchange for extra sales.  Don’t expect many extras, but do expect huge cuts in price, usually dependent on how well the game was received (Duke Nukem Forever has been on Steam for as little as $5 lately).  This is a great time to buy single-player games since they don’t depend on your friends to get the right experience.

4. Try Free-to-Play alternatives

Even flagship multiplayer titles are jumping on the free-to-play bandwagon these days

Personally I believe the Free-to-Play model is here to stay.  You can pay just what you want in many of these games, from zero dollars to 5 or 10 bucks to literally hundreds of dollars if you wish.  At this point pretty much every major genre is represented: RTS, FPS, third-person shooter, RPG, DotA, so you’re bound to find something that works for you.  Best yet is that this is an easy sell to friends – “Try it, its free”.


5. Turn the graphics back down to 10

Because 11 is just too damn expensive.  Whether this means deciding on the next HDTV for your console, the next video card upgrade or even the 12.1 surround sound you so desperately want, you should always consider the alternatives.  Most of the time going with the next size down could mean some big savings, and you might as well see if your local store can throw in some extra goodies for such a big purchase.  When it comes to computer hardware you need to take hardware review sites with a huge grain of salt.  They will throw up benchmarks up all day long and make it look like you would be idiotic to not buy the latest and greatest.  Here’s the kick – graphics cards manufacturers almost always offer a slightly under-clocked version for way less, sometimes by as much as hundreds.  Don’t be fooled, your naked eye will not be able to tell the difference, but your wallet will.

What will you do with all that extra cash?  Buy more games of course dummy!


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About Ryan Saul

Hailing from Portland, OR I work by day and blog by night. I like to consider myself a video game connoisseur, playing as many new things as I can get my hands on. Its hard to hold me down to one game for very long before I move on to the next big thing. Luckily, that works pretty well in terms of video game blogging.

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