Stop paying full price for video games

Stop paying full price for video games

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Photo: Shuang Li (Shutterstock)

It’s November, which means it’s Black Friday season again (the Friday after Thanksgiving that now kind of lasts an entire month), and internet retailers – and brick-and-mortar chains that stay – give up offers. Traditionally, this is the best/worst time to be a fan of video games. The best, because tons of A-level games are on generous sale, some of them for the first time. And worse, because you probably bought a lot of these games for full price when they came out and, if you’re like me, you’ve barely played them since.

That’s why, in the interest of never feeling the sting of unrealized savings, I’ve sworn never to pay full price for a game again – and you should too.

FOMO versus reality

Before you rush to tell me I’m wrong, I’ll start with a caveat: if you’re the kind of player who to have to Play the hot new game when it’s newest and hottest, so do it by all means. But be honest with yourself before you pre-order: how many games do you have in your backlog? How likely are you to actually start your game on launch day? Waiting even a few months can net you a substantial discount from that $50 or $60 list price, whether it’s due to a sale at Target or a price drop on a digital download.

I’m not exactly a hardcore gamer – I currently only own a Switch, which I only bought last year. Even still, I’ve racked up dozens of games over the last year and a half, almost all bought at a deep discount, to the point that I currently have more titles in my backlog than I am likely to play. Probably you too. So why not just play one of them while waiting for the new game to go on sale? I promise you, Celestial is still as good as the day you first downloaded it.

Bonus: if you don’t claim the latest games, you’ll also feel more satisfied waiting to buy this PS5 or Xbox Series X without tearing your hair out– and by the time you finally score one, you’ll have a large library of older, cheaper games to choose from.

Avoid bugs, enjoy the DLC and don’t get burned

Waiting a bit also means you won’t have to suffer the frustration of launch-day bugs, which plague more big-name titles than they really should (two recent examples: Cyberpunk 2077 and Pokémon Scarlet and Violet). By the time you buy a game on sale, the biggest bugs have probably been fixed or are too big to fix, meaning you can walk away from them if necessary.

Along the same lines, you will also be able to browse a lot more reviews. Yes, the biggest games are usually reviewed by major outlets (like our sister site Kotaku) within the first few weeks. But a criticism from a pro trying to cram 20+ hours of gameplay into a few days so they can drop a review in a timely manner might tell you less about what applies to your own gaming preferences than an article or video from a small outlet or content creator published weeks or months later. And due to the sheer volume of games dropping each week, many indie games don’t get widely reviewed until weeks or months after release anyway.

Additionally, many titles these days – both from major developers and indie studios – are receiving new features and gameplay improvements via DLC, which can arrive weeks, months, or even years after the initial release. Sometimes these updates are free, so you can enjoy them immediately if you wait. Other times the DLC will cost you a few dollars, but again waiting often means you can buy a “deluxe” version of the same, including all DLCs, at a lower price than you would have paid for the base game at launch. (A good recent example of this: Independent Success Children of Morta was $22 on Switch when it released in 2019; earlier this year I picked up the Children of Morta: Complete Edition, including $7 worth of DLC, for around $10.)

There’s also the fact that even after doing your research and reading all the reviews, you might not like a given game. And since returns are rarely an option these days, especially if you favor digital downloads, you’ll be a lot less annoyed if you paid $7.99 instead of $25, or $40, or $60. (Children of Morta is actually a good example here too: I’m really glad I only paid $10, because despite the vibrations, it turns out I’m really bad and can’t get past the first dungeon.)

It’s easier than ever to never pay retail for a new game

In ancient times, buying cheap games was much more difficult. (I’m old in the gaming years, which means I remember when the only way to get a Nintendo game for less than retail price was to hope it would eventually achieve ” Player’s Choice”.) Now, however, the magic of the internet means you’re probably not needing to do much to find all the games on your wishlist on generous sale, other than developing some patience. healthy.

Sites like DekuDeals (for Switch games), cheap player, and many more allow you to create a wishlist of all the games that interest you and sign up to receive alerts when their price drops. My DekuDeals wishlist currently has around 30 titles, and every day four or five of them go on sale. Helpful bar charts show me how today’s price compares to past sales, so I can make an informed decision on whether it’s really a good time to buy, or if I should keep waiting and come back in my backlog instead. Just this week, in a flurry of early Christmas shopping, I picked up both the last mario party and critically adored Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga for a total of $60 – what I would have paid for either on release date.

And that’s not even mentioning subscription services like PlayStation+ and Xbox Game Pass, which give you access to dozens of premium titles every month for a monthly subscription that’s cheaper than the cost of a single game in sale. Many major titles will eventually make their way to one of these services and give you plenty of other stuff to play in the meantime.

Exceptions prove the rule

Every now and then there will be these games that capture the zeitgeist and seem to demand to be played immediately: elderberry ring and animal crossing being two examples from the pandemic era that come to mind. But consider how rare these behemoths are. Much more common are examples like the recent indie sensation neon white, which generated huge buzz before the release and had everyone talking… for about five days. Then media interest in the game moved on, giving you plenty of time to pick it up on sale.

I’m not saying I’ll never buy a full price game again. But each one that I don’t buy until it’s on sale frees up $10 or $20 or more in my gaming budget that I can spend on older (cheaper) games that will be just as satisfying. Don’t wait too long—you don’t want to risk your must-have title turning into a vintage collectible.

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