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Posted 04 July 2023

How to Save Money on Video Games

As people spent more time at home during the pandemic, video games — and the virtual space they inhabit — exploded with people seeking interactive entertainment. That also led to a new kind of spending: in-game purchases. Those kinds of expenses aren’t usually built into people’s budgets. In this article, I’ll outline tactics you can use to control your spending and save money. 

First, it’s important to understand that time is money, and while time spent playing video games can be enjoyable, too much time is detrimental to your health — financial and otherwise. How much playing time is acceptable often depends on the individual and their responsibilities. Most experts would recommend that you examine your daily or weekly obligations and then schedule time to sit down, relax and play.  

It’s also important to understand the kinds of games you are playing and what they “demand” of you. In recent years, there has been a rise in what’s often referred to as “pay to win” games. These games are structured so that to make meaningful progress, you must buy packages or boosts that allow you to move forward in the game. Often, the games that include the pay-to-win mechanism are technically free to play. But the urge to win, paired with the offer of “freemium” add-ons, can lead to gamers overspending without thinking. In one recent instance, Electronic Arts announced it was eliminating loot boxes from “Star Wars Battlefront 2” because of the backlash of their customers. 

So, how do you combat overspending in the heat of a game battle? Budget what you’re willing to spend on video games. Having a firm budget with spending limits will require some discipline because video game developers can use psychology in a predatory way to encourage spending. They use tactics like interrupting play, claiming limited-time offers, countdown timers, or firm paywalls that completely block advancement. If you have a budget, you have a way to fight back against the pressure put on you by gaming companies. 

Another way to save money is to buy used physical games. Some players will buy games as soon as they are available or play through games quickly and move on. If you’re patient and wait for the prices to go down, you can save money — sometimes as much as 50% off the original price if you wait up to a year after a game is released. You also could rent games or borrow them from friends. While video game rentals have decreased in recent years, if there is a game that only has a story mode or you want to take it for a test run, you can save a lot of money by trying a game before you buy. And some games offer trial modes to try the game for free before you buy it. 

Using these tips can help you keep a handle on your gaming spending before you’re in the heat of battle, convinced it’s completely reasonable to spend some real cash for a virtual superpower. 


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