Stop Paying Full Price!
Handheld gaming is, unfortunately, no longer such a "cheap" alternative. Some PSP games are still $50, and premium DS releases now run $40. We run down how to avoid making your wallet cry...
With the next gen boasting of superior hardware, better graphics and a number of innovations, it's only natural to see a spike in production costs. The production costs are then passed on to the consumer, which is why we see $60 games on the shelves. Buying a couple of these $60 games a month are bound to make a dent in anyone's pockets. Luckily, thanks to a few smart buying tactics, we don't have to choose between buying a game, or buying the week's groceries any longer.
Tactic 1: Wait[/SUBHEAD]
This only applies to people who actually have patience. Waiting may seem obvious, since new games cost more than old ones, but there's also an art to it. You don't want to wait so long for a game's price to drop that it becomes rare and the price actually gets raised. (Hello, I'm talking to you, Valkyrie Profile.) So how do you know if a game is going to get rare?
Generally, big name publishers like EA will print games in such large amounts that the chances of their games becoming hard to find will be slim. Because of the large print runs, EA games will also have price drops within a year or so. Compare the price of Madden 07 to Madden 06. Conversely, smaller game publishers like Atlus print such a paltry amount of games that it's hard enough to find the games around their release date. Atlus is getting better and their recent games are easier to find, but their games still take longer for a price drop, so I wouldn't wait too long for them.
Another advantage to waiting is that if the game is popular enough, it might become a Player's Choice (Nintendo) or Greatest Hits (Sony) game, which are $20. These titles are reserved for games that sell over a specific number of copies in a given initial period. For example, Shadow of the Colossus was $39.99 at release, but after a few months, it became a Greatest Hits title and dropped down to $19.99.
Tactic 2: Online Sales[/SUBHEAD]
Thanks to Al Gore, games can be bought over the internet. For people not lucky enough to live close to a Frys Electronics store or know about them, they frequently have sales on newly released games. For example, Contact had an MSRP of $29.99, but Frys had it on sale for $24.99 the first couple of days it was released. If you're lucky enough to see a Frys ad in the newspaper with a game that's on sale, it's possible to bring the ad to Best Buy or Circuit City to score the game at the same price, depending on whether or not the cashier or manager will let you price match the Frys price. Sometimes, in conjunction to the sale at Frys, Outpost.com (Frys' online component) will offer the same price as a preorder. Unfortunately depending on where you live, tax and shipping might make that deal moot.
In the same vein, Overstock.com also offers games under MSRP from time to time. Usually they do it as a pre-order and while they might not be the quickest when it comes to shipping, if you're willing to wait a few weeks after a game's release date to play it, Overstock is a good place to go. If you're really counting pennies, don't forget that Amazon doesn't charge tax and depending on what else you purchase, the game may qualify for free shipping.
Tactic 3: Gamer's Gift Card[/SUBHEAD]
When I can't wait for a price drop on a game and I can't find it on sale anywhere else, I go for the Gamer's Gift Card. This little gem can be found in Best Buy stores. They're gift-cards that can usually be found by the check-out counter. There are differently themed cards, but the one we want is the Gamer's Gift Card. In the past, they would differentiate between PS2, Nintendo, and Xbox, but the new Gamer's Gift Cards should work on all consoles. They're basically a gift card you can put money on, but the great thing is, they come with a $5 off coupon that you can apply to games.
Buy the gift card, put some amount of money on it (I usually put the price of the game I'm buying minus $5), tear off the $5 off coupon attached to the gift card, and then use that and the gift card to buy the game. While it's not technically against their policy, it might be a good idea to buy the gift card first, leave the store, come back in, get the game and go to a different cashier with the coupon. I've had varying reactions from different Best Buys I've done this at. Some cashiers are perfectly fine with it, others want you to do it on separate transactions.
Tactic 4: Buy Used[/SUBHEAD]
Used games are cheaper than new games and, especially if they're a few months old. While EB and Gamestop may not be the best places to go for used games (they're not that much cheaper there), Amazon and Ebay can become your best friends if you don't care about getting an opened product.
Tactic 5: Be a Cheap Ass[/SUBHEAD]
New deals and price drops are usually listed at the Cheap Ass Gamer forums. Most of my money saving tactics were learned from CAG. The community is full of helpful people who post the latest newspaper ads that relate to games, as well as information about what games are more likely to become rare or not. Be warned though, I now buy more games than I did before knowing about the site thanks to the enticement of low prices. But at least I can afford groceries once in a while now.