The War on Your Gaming Wallet
by Scott Parrino
With the economy how it is these days, saving money has become a number one priority for a lot of people. Unfortunately most of the savings come from cutting out extra expenses, be it that cup of coffee you buy on the way to work, weekly nights out at the movies or shopping name brand items at the store. Also hit are grabbing those new games as they hit the market. A brand new Xbox 360/PS3 game can run about sixty bucks plus tax while PC games and Wii games may be slightly cheaper. Not to mention gaming peripherals, new controllers, batteries, DLC and avatar features, you can run up quite a bill on your account. What is a gamer to do in this time of crisis? Be smart with your wallet and be resourceful with your equipment.
First off, with the next generation consoles we have seen the advent of fully wireless controllers with vibration features. Powering those motors for hours on end will drain your AA batteries. Your first step here is to take them out of the equation. Batteries, aside from the rechargeable ones, have a limited life. Once they are drained, you throw them away. Get yourself rechargeable battery packs, be it third party or official ones. While slightly expensive upfront compared to a pack of batteries, over time you will save money. Another option is grabbing a wired controller. While this only really applies to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, for your Wii, using wired Gamecube controllers work just as well for the proper games. Using a wired controller may limit your range, but you don’t have to deal with dying batteries. The added benefit is that you can hook them up to your computer with the proper drivers to play PC games.
Purchasing your hardware doesn’t necessarily have to come from name brand stores. Online you can find deals that may include bundles, increasing more for what you get with your money. I recently picked up a year of Xbox Live, Project Gotham Racing 4, a chatpad and a mic for sixty bucks. While it was a bit of a hit on my wallet at the time, I saved money by grabbing this bundle. I didn’t have to worry about paying the eight bucks a month for live anymore (which totaled $96 per year) and in return got two new peripherals and a fairly decent racing game. I also encourage smart shopping by keeping an eye out for coupons or other store deals. Target from time to time has deals where you can get a gift card with a new videogame purchase. You can use this gift card for other gaming needs or if you need more deodorant and shampoo.
Now say that there is a brand new game that comes out every month that you want for your Xbox360/Playstation 3. At bare minimum, minus the tax, you’re looking at $720 per year for the hot new games! While it is spread out over the months, if you’re living paycheck to paycheck or trying to save up, this can be a huge hit on your wallet. Your next step here is obviously to either be patient or wait until the games you want drop in price or take advantage of Gamefly. Gamefly allows you to rent games for as long as you want for a monthly fee. So now, instead of paying sixty bucks a month for a new game, you can use Gamefly’s service for 15.95 (for one game out at a time). This brings your yearly expense down to $191.40. While still in the three-digit range, its nearly a $530 savings.
Want to keep the games that you want? Try Goozex then. Much like a trading service, you put your games up for “sale” for points. When someone wants it, they request it and wait in line to grab it if it is available. When yours is up for trade, you pay shipping to send it out and receive the points in return for that game to go towards any game of your choosing. Depending on popularity, the rarity of the game and how good it is, the price can be high or low. This is an excellent way to fill out your gaming library or get rid of the ones collecting dust. Your only other expense is trade tokens, which allows you to do the trades. Your mileage may vary for shipping but the tokens are only five dollars. Theoretically you can spend less than a dollar for your trade of each game if you have the points.
It also doesn’t hurt to check out any local exchange shops for your gaming needs. You can find excellent deals if you look hard enough and if you bring in items to apply to the trade; you can end up coming out ahead. I brought in a few old movies and games to my favorite exchange shop and in return got a few games out of it. Once again your mileage on trades may vary, but it is better than nabbing the brand new game of the month for a much higher price.
Last but not least for saving money on your gaming needs is your family. No, you heard me right; sometimes you’ll have family members like brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles, maybe even grandparents that are into gaming as well. Ask around and see if they have the same consoles with you and are willing to lend you a game or two. Unless you have a family of jerks, you’re looking at spending pretty much zero dollars and can also create a bond with your relatives. Your friends are also a great source to borrow games from as well, unless you’re a total shut-in that lives on your own island. Then again if you have your own island I think you don’t really have money problems.
Saving money should always be at the top of everyone’s list in these times, be it at the supermarket or even at game store. Before reaching and grabbing that brand new copy right off the shelf, think to yourself how you can knock a few bucks off of that price, be it through patience and waiting for a price drop or through cleaning out your old stash. I hope this article helps you in making better and cost effective decisions for your gaming needs in the future.
Looking back at our list of ways to save money, let’s see how much you can potentially save. Let’s say you own an Xbox 360, buy a new game every month and pay per month for Gold Membership on LIVE. Also you go through batteries, a controller and a headset due to wear and tear:
12 months of LIVE (per month plan) - $96
Games every month - $720
New controller + headset - $50 + $20 = $70
Batteries - $5 for a pack of 8, average 4 packs a year = $20
Total cost: $906
Now, using Buy.com, Amazon and current shopping deals, here is what you spend:
12 months of Gold LIVE from Amazon/Buy - $40
GameFly new games every month - $192
Controller + headset from Amazon/Buy - $32 + $16 = $48
Rechargeable battery packs and dock - $26
Total cost: $306
Get to shopping smart!