5 Tips for Gaming on a budget

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This is the last issue of The Baron for this academic year and sadly I don’t have an interesting game to review. I have finished a few games recently, but none of them offered an experience worth reviewing. Instead, I have decided to compile a list of tips on how to game on a budget. These tips will have you rolling in unopened and un-played games.

1. Humble Bundle and Free Bundle

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Humble Bundle (www.humblebundle.com) is a site where indie games are sold as DRM-free bundles, to support charity. The site lets you pay what you want for the bundle, but they offer bonuses for contributors who pay more than the average. Humble Bundle is great way to grab some of the best cross-platform PC games for less than $10. Most games are also redeemable on Steam. The Humble Bundle V had an average purchase price of $8.53 and featured Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Braid, LIMBO, Lone Survivor, Psychonauts, Super Meat Boy, and Superbrothers: Swords & Sworcery EP. It had 599,004 purchases.

Humble Bundle also offers a weekly sale on a single game. This site has become my go-to for cheap and excellent indie games. I recommend you check it out as soon as possible because the bundles are only available for a limited time.

The Free Bundle (www.thefreebundle.com) is a spin-off site of Humble Bundle, which promotes indie games that can be downloaded for free. Most of the games are low-budget or experimental, but they offer unique experiences and are completely free.

Other similar sites include: indieroyale.com, indiegala.com, gog.com and indiegamestand.com.

2. Sales

There really isn’t any reason to pay full price for a video game anymore. Between Steam sales, brick and mortar store sales and the used market, the thrifty gamer can easily accumulate a backlog of unfinished games. Sites like cheapassgamer.com and reddit.com/r/GameDeals are great resources for keeping up with discounts.

For example, in early January of this year I walked into a local store with $60 and left with three new games. Two of these games had come out in the third quarter of 2012. With a little patience and 15 minutes of weekly reading, you can save yourself a few bucks on every game you buy.

3. Don’t pre-order

With the exception of Bioshock Infinite, most pre-order bonuses offer no real value. With the current popularity of gaming, it’s very unlikely that a store will sell out of copies of a game on release day. Most AAA titles ship with enough copies that the “limited edition” boxes are still on shelves months later. If you buy a new copy of any game in Saint John, it will likely have the code for the “exclusive pre-order bonus” inside. Even if these bonuses were actually exclusive, they still would not justify paying $60 for a game. Most games drop in price rapidly after the initial hype dies down. Wait a few months and you’ll save money. TotalHalibut has a great video arguing this point in more detail at youtube.com/watch?v=mf5Uj4XIT1Y.

4. Reviews

Reviews offer a glance into the contents of a game with no cost other than time. I’ve discovered some of my favorite games by watching video reviews on YouTube. I’ve also avoided purchasing some horribly mediocre games. I recommend video reviews over text reviews because they show in-game footage as well as the offering of opinions.

Some of my favorite reviewers are TotalHalibut, AngryJoeShow and akamikeb (YouTube usernames). TotalHalibut demos almost every non-AAA release on Steam in his “WTF Is” web series. Akamikeb shows off great indie games every morning in “Indie for Breakfast.” AngryJoe makes hilarious video reviews that break down a game to its core mechanics and features. The best way to take advantage of reviews is to find reviewers who have opinions and tastes that you agree with and trust.

5. Buy Older Games

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This tip has saved me more money than any other technique mentioned above. It’s very simple; just wait until a few months after release when buying a game. The cost will likely have dropped to some stable market price by this time.

Most major issues with the game will also be patched out within the first few months. In general, popular games drop to around $40 while less popular games drop to $20. If you’re willing to wait even longer, most games drop to the $20 range after one year. This strategy puts you behind the rest of the gaming community, but it saves a ton of money. Why buy a game for $60, when you can buy the “game of the year” edition with all DLC for $20 next year?