Playing video games has become very expensive in recent years. New releases for popular consoles often cost closer to £40 than £30, popular app games are constantly selling (and pushing) in-app purchases, and other sources of popular games, like Internet casino markets and Steam downloads, are constantly charging for various downloads and features.
Generally, these are expenses the average gamer is more than willing to pay. After all, there’s a reason the people who created app sensations Clash Of Clans and Boom Beach made nearly $2 billion in 2014! But that doesn’t mean most gamers wouldn’t welcome the chance to save a little bit of money here and there. With that said, I’m going to cover a few basic “hacks” that can make your favourite games more affordable.
The first and easiest way to keep gaming affordable is simply to be patient. This was a point made by Games Radar, and though the article was written using dollar amounts, it makes a fair observation in saying that new releases selling for $60 will often drop to an amount closer to $40 in a matter of months. You can read the site’s full list of amusing gamer hacks here. The point is that the gradual price drop is a common pattern in retail prices in general, but one that often applies to top console games. For many, it can be difficult to be patient when a major console game hits the shelves, but try this trick: when a release date is first announced, push it back three additional months and make a note on your calendar for when you’re going to get it. You won’t trick yourself into forgetting the actual release, but it helps to have a date to look forward to.
If patience is difficult for you, as it is with many gamers anticipating major releases, I’d suggest giving digital game rentals a try. GameFly once led the way here before selling its digital platform to AtGames, but there are still various ways to rent games or enjoy trials via digital download—some believe Steam will ultimately dominate this branch of gaming as well. The downside here is with games you want to play for an extended time period, such as those that thrive on multiplayer competition. However, for games that you can play and finish in a relatively short amount of time, getting into the habit of rentals can be a great way to save money and avoid the huge costs of console games.
For online and mobile platforms things can be trickier, because prices don’t drop and rentals aren’t usually options. In the online casino industry, which has carved out a significant area in the gaming industry, it’s particularly difficult to get around high costs. That’s mostly because the nature of casino gaming involves risking and spending money. The best “hack” here is to simply keep an eye out for handy promotions and free play options before committing an account to a single site or platform. And these may be more common than you first think, even at major sites and companies. Betfair’s bingo and casino gaming platforms have a huge range of constantly shifting promotions that you can view here, and particularly when you first join a gaming community like this, there’s often a matching bonus that makes your initial deposit count for more. It isn’t the same as getting a game cheaper, per se, but it still means that you’re getting more for your money.
A somewhat-similar practice—looking for promotions and special deals, that is—tends to be the best way to keep mobile gaming cheap. However, there are so many different games out there, with so many different pricing models and perks, that it’s difficult to apply a single strategy to this entire branch of gaming. One tip is to pay for gaming downloads. Games that cost an initial fee are usually easier to play without spending more money down the line, and often a tiny download cost can yield a great deal of entertainment. Another tip is to focus on achievement, rather than impatience, when you do download a free app with a freemium revenue model. A clear example here is the well-known PopCap game Plants vs. Zombies 2, which was widely criticized for incentivising too many in-app purchases. However, if you play the game making an attempt to beat levels and make achievements, it can still be a massive experience without your spending anything at all.
The bottom line, unfortunately, is that playing video games is an expensive hobby. Gaming is a gigantic industry, and developers will always find ways to maximise their profits. But with these tricks and a bit of patience and awareness, you can play all your favourite games and still keep costs manageable.