Don’t Pay Top Dollar on Video Games

by Guest Contributor · 25 comments

There are three popular video games on the market at this time. Each one sells its game disks for $50 or more a piece, when new. I don’t know about you, but the idea of spending that kind of money for a game actually offends my sensibilities.

Now I will admit that I don’t actually play these games, but my children do, and that means come holidays and birthdays, they all want something new. I found some great ways to save money and still give them video games they want.

Buy Your Games USED

There is no easier way to cut your costs than to purchase games that are used. You can do this at various game stores, online or at game exchanges. Unlike my children who like to play the same game over and over beating it several times, there are those who only see the point of winning once.

This means that they spend $50 for the newest game and then are willing to sell it for $20 in order to acquire money for the next thing coming out. GREAT! I am willing to help them out; and I get a relatively new game for less than half the price. The games are usually guaranteed to work properly, which means if they don’t I just take them back to the store and get another copy. You have to be a bit more wary if purchasing from a private individual online, but for the most part, the games are the same.

By the way, extend this policy to the game console too. When the Wii came out it cost $250 new, but if you were willing to wait a few weeks they were available for $179 used. My kids waited, and everyone saved.

Rent Games

Purchasing a game you don’t know anything about is a waste of money. Renting the same game will cost you $5 at the local video store. If you like the game enough that you think it is worth purchasing used, then go ahead and do so. Otherwise, you have saved yourself a bundle. If a game costs $50 and you rent it twice to complete the whole game, you are $40 ahead.

Turn in Your Old Games

Many people horde their games long after they finished playing them. If a couple of months go by and you haven’t gotten back to the game, consider selling it back to the game store. Some stores give you cash while others provide merchandise credit. Either way you come out ahead. In addition, you get rid of unused games and you can purchase newer ones without spending a penny.

Play Online Games – For Free

The popularity of online gaming continues to grow in leaps and bounds. You can find literally dozens of sites that host free online games you can play individually or in a group setting. My teen spends hours each week on these sites and hasn’t bought any new video game for the game system in months. There is always something new to play and he gets to save up for something else, like a new computer.

These tips are part of the How to Save Money on Everything ebook, which is free. Grab your copy by signing up to the free newsletter here.

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Jose de la Cruz says:

    It’s more than obvious that the person who wrote this article isn’t a gamer, i’m not even sure if he even likes it, but it’s ok, they’re not for everyone, still, i wanted to express my opinion on how wrong i think this is.

    First of all, the games, become cheaper once they sell a lot of copies (in a big mayority of the cases), so, if everybody followed your advice, no one would buy the game, so, the game would always be expensive.

    Another point you make is that you don’t have to play the games when they come out, that tells me that you don’t even know the audience you are trying to give advice, let me put it this way, do you like movies or do you read books? is there a series of books/movies that you like? if your answer is yes, i kinda think you already know where i’m heading with this, it’s simple:
    You want to know right away what happens with the new story of the new game/book/movie, this is a common thing between people, it’s not just a gamer point of view, i think this is universal, nothing beats the feeling of a new story, a new way of doing things, a “new adventure”.
    I think you have things you are passioned about, when you like something and think it’s important, i’m not saying that games are a big deal, but for some people they kinda are, so, there’s when you think, “i want that new game when it comes out” just like you would on new books/movies, and when the time comes, you don’t really think of the price, you already know what is going to cost, games have the same price (with little exceptions, but you get the point), so there’s no surprise there.
    I think it is a good idea to buy/sell used games, buy them used is a good idea too, like, i have a current console system for a few months now, but, the current system is like 5 years old, so, there are games that i couldn’t play when they came out, so, if i find them used, why not to buying them, unless there are the kind of game that requires to be new to play online, but if they’re not that kind, i don’t see why not buy the game, if you don’t play one of your old games, or you are the kind of people that only finishes the game once, why don’t sell them, with that money you could buy a new one when it comes out.

    I really don’t know if i made my point but i tried, it’s kinda difficult to write an opionion that is really extend in a language that it’s not native to me

  • Sam says:

    A simple way to reduce the amount of money you spend on games is to just buy games which will last you a long time. For example Call of Duty Black Ops, I bought it the week it came out because I knew it was worth my money, even though if I waited maybe a couple of weeks or months later the price would go down. It’s lasted me a good 8 months and I’m still enjoying it. Games like Elder Scrolls: Oblivion and the new one (Skyrim) will last you ages to finish. Well worth the price and I for one believe that Oblivion has a good replay value (even though I haven’t even finished it yet).Some stores offer you the chance to trade 3 games in and get one free. I’m a regular gamer and because of my job I don’t have to worry too much about money. But this is what I do:

    1. rent the games first (except for games like CoD, Oblivion… which I already knew would be great)
    2. if you’re short on cash you can buy Asian, European and international versions. Make sure the actual game is in English though. A good site for this is Game Lane.
    3. another option if your short is to buy used games
    4. buy cheap games on Ebay and/or Amazon. Be wary of scammers especially Ebay (never used Amazon before).

    Personally I don’t buy many games. The only games I buy are mostly rpg games like Dragon Age and Grand Theft Auto. Or games which have good multiplayer like CoD, Battlefield and MoH. Seriously you’ll be having too much fun on these games to be even considering buying a new game. I have followed the PoP (Prince of Persia) franchise since the beginning owning every game because it’s just so damn good. And fairly good replay value. Recommend getting it.

    Sorry this sounds a little dodgy but I’m not in the mood for editing.

  • Mr Black says:

    RE: Taylor

    I make one or two good points. However, you’re wrong about game rentals not having multiplayer–have you ever rented a game. It’s exactly the same version as the retail release, so….yeah.

    And you advocate against buying used games because–you’ll be behind in skills? Really? For one, unless it’s a new IP chances are you’ll be more than adequate by playing similar games or prequels (if it’s a sequel, since you are ademant about CoD). Secondly, it does not take long to “catch-up.”

    Also, if you bought more used games with your budget you could prob. double your annual game purchases.

    • Ryne says:

      Mr. Black,

      As Taylor mentioned, many games these days come with a BS one time-use code in them; a gimmick the game developers use to get money off of used sales. There is, of course, only one code per box. For games that have this feature, renting would of course require that the people renting the game (the Service Subscriber) pay an additional fee on top of their rental subscription in order to play the game they rented!

      This would be akin to Netflix’s Starz content requiring an active Starz cable subscription in order to view those videos.

  • Taylor says:

    I disagree for the most part…

    BUYING YOUR GAMES USED means you have to wait until well after the initial release before you are able to play. You’ll be behind in experience and it will take you quite some time to catch up (in skill) to the players who started playing at launch. This makes the game less enjoyable because you are always getting your butt kicked by people who’ve been playing longer.

    RENT GAMES… Most rented games do not allow you to play multiplayer.


    PLAY ONLINE GAMES FOR FREE…. Seriously? Sure, I’ll take “Hearts” and “Solitare” over “Call of Duty” any day… geez.

    The solution is simple… Live on a budget… My gaming budget allows me to get 4 games per year ($240/year). I can usually squeeze out a 5th game per year if I trade in old games. That’s an average of about 3 months per game. That is actually very low because I will stick with games like “Call of Duty” for 6 months before I grow tired.

  • Chuck says:


    I somewhat understand your argument.

    Fortunatly, First Sale Doctrine rules in this case. A copyright holder is prohibited by law from requesting compensation from subsequent sales of a copy of their work.

    No first sale doctrine, no Salvation Army store, no Good Will store, and no eBay.

    Do you think that would be better for the company and society as a whole?


  • FortheCompany says:

    The problem I have with buying used games is now the people who actually spend the money to make the game your kids are now enjoying get to see none of the profit of your purchase from the game. This is why we are getting some truly crazy over the top methods of security like the one time use online codes, when you buy used you are only supporting the store you are buying from and not the company who actually made the game.

  • Mr Black says:

    About renting: My friend, you mustn’t have rented any games recently. Game rentals are $7.99 now, not $5. Considering the rate, a rental subscription service would be a much better use of the money a la Gamefly.

  • CD says:

    This article sounds like it was written by someone who is not a gamer. There is a tendency among people who do not play videogames to assume that they are all near-perfect substitutes. For people who like videogames, telling him to wait until the price drop is equivalent to telling a cinephile to wait until the movie is available on Netflix. It’s just sometimes not an option.

    When buying games, especially for children, never fall into the trap of buying cheap. Wii games flood the market with terrible wastes of money. No child would appreciate a bad game, and if he does, then your money would be better spent in the form of another present.

    Regarding used games, this advice is best for using classifieds or trading informally among friends. Stores like Gamestop take huge margins for trading in used games. On recent, popular titles, the markdown for a used game could only be $5 off a new price while the buyback is almost certainly less than half. There is a trick to this though. You can return any used game at Gamestop within a week for the full purchase price. They have a full satisfaction guarantee for used games.

  • Michael Douglas says:

    I think this post tells a lot. Imagine millions of dollars are being used to buy games for consoles and PC’s. and imagine all of those money being invested to businesses to produce more jobs for people.

    • jim says:

      Question for Michael… how do you think all of those games get made?

      They couldn’t possibly be the work of hundreds of thousands of young, educated and creative individuals (heavily based in the USA) can they?

      In a world without manned space exploration, what’s wrong with a kid aspiring to be a game developer? They are the only ones exploring new worlds… meanwhile the rest of the US is busy trying to sell insurance to each other.

      Imagine a world without one of the few remaining western-dominated industries? GREAT IDEA.

  • jim says:

    I like buying used or dated games myself. Doing both can save a lot. I’ve bought some used Gamecube games lately for our Wii for $2-$6 each. Some are really fun games with lots of good play value.

  • Tom says:

    I have to disagree with the buying video games used part. Unless they are PS3 games which are harder and less prone to scratches than DVDs, then don’t even dare touch the used games. 90% of the time games are either scratched or broken, and Gamestop’s policy states that you cannot return used games. This is coming from a father of 3 children who always buy the newest games, DON’T BUY USED

    • Diane says:

      We buy used games all the time. Also our local Gamestop allows us to exchange defective games.

      • heath says:

        I have only ever had a problem with one used game, I returned it and they gave me my money back. If you have had a problem with getting broken disks then it is your fault for not inspecting before you leave the store and not attempting to return it.

        I have never spent more than $20 for a game and never plan to. I also don’t play the pay-2-play online games because I know it wouldn’t be worth it for me.

        • Norm says:

          Nonsense. All the major resellers have a defective return policy on used games. I buy my used games at Microplay and not once have I had an issue with an unplayable game. They specifically state that if the game is not playable you can return it.

  • Kurt says:

    Hey “Guest Contributer,”

    How can you write an article about saving money on video games and not mention Gamefly?

    • Ryan says:

      gamefly is the biggest ripoff of them all. takes a week for them to receive it and a week for them to ship. And I live twenty minutes from a shipping facility.

  • aaron says:

    Rent new when it gets cheaper..That’s my motto…I like to support the developers of good games and buying used does not do that.

  • Chuck says:

    Be careful with buying used games if you like playing the online multiplayer component.

    Two games I bought in the last year had one time use codes for accessing the online multiplayer. If you buy used and those codes have already been entered, your savings on that used game will be eaten up with paying separately for the ability to play online.

  • Lynn says:

    Hmm, I think it can depend. I normally agree; one of my reasons for balking at the Wii was the exorbitant price sticker on any “good” game. However, my husband has regulated himself to one game every few months (so that $50 price becomes about $13/month – less than WoW if he didn’t buy a $20 game to begin with) and he tries to pick a game everyone would play, if he’s paying more than $20. That way, he’s been able to get a game he really wanted that is multi-player or at least multi-file and it’s not so much of a hit to the bank. Sometimes it’s really hard to find the popular games in used condition, like anything Mario-related, so you can at least be smart about it.

  • Ben Stiller says:

    We really don’t have to spend that kind of money for games that will only be used one time. I remember when I used to play games, me and my cousins talk about it and we agreed that we will take turns buying new games and we borrow game disk from each other. We don’t have a duplicate game on our shelves.

  • keri says:

    Also, don’t forget that blockbuster has a service like netflix where for 8.99 a month you get unlimited video game rentals mailed to you. You can keep it as long as you want. For about 100 a year you can play all the games you want, the price of 2 video games.

  • retirebyforty says:

    I agree with Kim. I just wait about a year and most games are available for 20-40% of the original cost. I don’t need to play the latest and greatest games these days. Kids probably feel more pressure to get the latest so they can talk about it.

  • Kim says:

    If you wait a little after the game is released the price will come down – especially online. This helps support the game’s developer more than buying used games will – that really only benefits the store.

    There are also a number of game trading sites – I’ve used the Game Trading Zone for years.

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