It is pretty easy to feel screwed over by the video game industry. Maybe you just threw down $50 on a PlayStation game, only for it to become a “greatest hit” a week later, and drop $20 in price. Or perhaps it drives you insane knowing that GameStop gives you $5 for your used game, then turns around and sells it for $30. OK, this might be a bit of an exaggeration… but not by much! Point is, a fair amount of us gamers don’t really care much for getting screwed over. Thanks to my Scottish-based frugal upbringing, I have devized a few tricks that are fairly common sense, but just might save you some hard-earned cash when buying game gear… and no – I am not talking about the Sega handheld (although I do want one) for a cheap price!
First thing’s first. Never trust Nintendo. I am the biggest Nintendo fan boy on the planet, but I will be the first to tell you that you should never buy their hardware when it first comes out. Just look at their handhelds. For every Game Boy that comes out, there will always be a Game Boy pocket, a Game Boy Color, and a Game Boy Advance that comes out mere months later. When it comes to harware, you need to wait because there are always freakin problems, which lead to nice improvements in the next model. Anyone who bought the original Nintendo DS knows what I’m talking about. When the Nintendo DS Lite came out, you were just like me and wanted punch a baby when you saw what a piece of crap the original DS was in comparison.
Let’s look at the Nintendo 3DS. When that thing came out, I wanted it BAD. However, with Nintendo’s predictable history of screwing its customers, I waited for the next model… And wouldn’t you know it, the price of the 3DS dropped by $150. If that wasn’t enough, Nintendo created the “Ambassador Program” which gave all 3DS owners roughly 15 free downloadable games. Lesson: there is value in waiting!
With all of Nintendo’s faults, one thing I do appreciate about them is they tend to charge far less for their consoles than their competitors. In particular, I’m thinking about the Wii vs. the Xbox 360 vs. the PS3. The PS3 was something insane like $600 when it first came out. To put things into perspective, the first car I ever owned was a 76 Ford Maverick, which cost me $750. Yes, the PS3 cost (with tax) was nearly the price of my first freakin CAR. Of course, as time has gone on, the price has indeed dropped quite a bit. But for the frugal gamer, it needs to be even less!
Check this out – I just got an Xbox 360 Slim with a 150 GB hard drive for under $200 (total). In case you are not Xbox price savvy, this is a steal. The Xbox 360 Slim has a built-in wireless adaptor ($50-$60 value alone) and does not suffer from the same crazy red-ring-of-death curse that its launch day predecessor did. So how do you do this? Simple – first grow some gravitas and do the unthinkable… yes, I mean buy a used Xbox 360 Slim. You think this is a risky move, don’t you? Well, it isn’t if you buy it from a reputable source that will support you if anything goes wrong (think Amazon). Also, don’t buy an Xbox with a massive hard drive. Buy the hard drive separately and save bug bucks. I bought a 4GB model of my Xbox 360 Slim and then purchased a 150 GB hard drive on the side for about a $60 discount from what I would have paid Microsoft. Now I have a very respectable Xbox 360 set up at a fraction of the price I would have paid, had I bought one directly from Game Stop. I can spend that extra money I saved on more imporatnt things, like beer and strippers (I’m kidding! I don’t even like beer…).
Another one of my favorite ways to save money in the world of video games is to keep a close eye on Slick Deals. If you don’t use this website, you are really missing out. You simply go to the site, type in some keywords for things you are looking for (e.g. Wii games [with a 5 thumb deal rating]), and boom! Next thing you know, you are receving emails whenever great video game deals are found by the Slick Deals Community. It is not uncommon to find $60 games selling for $20-$30 via this route. You can save SO much money this way. Do it!
Lastly, it is not always the best idea to wait. I know, I’m breaking my original rule. Just hear me out. You can get rebates and other really nice perks if you pre-order games on Amazon. An instant $10 gift card from Amazon for pre-ordering Assasin’s Creed? Sign me up! Did you buy Final Fantasy XIII at Target or GameStop? I know you are kicking yourself if you did, because had you pre-ordered it from Amazon, you would have been able to experience an extra boss battle, and then have that boss join your team. Yes… fight along side of you within your party. This is just unfair, really! The lesson here is – choose your battles wisely; if there are huge perks for pre-ordering games online, by all means, go for it!
These are a few tricks which have served me well over the years. Of course, if you have some more, I’d love to hear them. Share them with the Hideo community!
Happy deal hunting!