Taking Control of the Cost of Video Games
Any legit gamer knows that the billion dollar gaming industry has to compete for your business. There are stores and websites that specialize in trading, discounts and rentals, as well as plenty of free online games and downloadable titles. When certain games are released, they may be nearly impossible to buy cheap. Still, with a little ingenuity, you may be able to beat this industry at their own game.
Before making a move, research the ever-changing digital market. Check out sites like Consumer Reports, Wired, and TekGoblin, where passionate gamers such as Aaron Cooley provide an insider perspective. Of course, user-generated reviews from gaming junkies can also save you a bundle, especially if they've already given the game a spin at home and dealt with any kinks.
Amazon (AMZN), Best Buy (BBY), GameStop (GME) and local mom-and-pop video game stores all sell used -- or, as Mercedes would have it, "pre-owned" -- titles. Certain genres, such as sports games, are cheaper than others. Definitely research the stores before you go -- for instance, Best Buy may be pickier about which titles they take, but word on the street is that they generally pay more than GameStop does.
Rent or Own?
GameFly, GottaPlay, Netflix (NFLX), iTunes and Gamerang are just a few of the several services that rent games online. Plans, like budgets, come in all shapes and sizes. You can cross check their monthly, ongoing membership and rent-by-the-game plans. There are still a few online retailers that will send games via snail mail. (Remember when getting a DVD in the mail was the new thing?) Most have switched to online distribution methods, or will do so soon. You can also visit your public library to see if they allow you to "check out" games. Assuming you return them on time, you won't have to spend a dime.
Get in the Game
You can also buy -- wait for it -- fewer games. There are titles geared toward the whole family, like the online and offline multi-players that enable a bunch of people to engage simultaneously. Nintendo's multiplayer games, such as Mario Kart, Wii Sports, and New Super Mario Bros., tend to be popular. You can also make up rules for yourself, like resolving to sell or trade a game you own before buying a new one. Or consider swapping with friends: Trading is almost always a win-win, cost-wise.
Free For All
Last and least, financially speaking, you can easily find free-to-play games and apps on the Internet. Some companies offer intros and demos to entice you. Plus, you'll be able to figure out if a given game is going to be addictive or yawn inducing.
As of now, bargain hunting, even off of websites, has not yet crossed over to being considered a video game... yet.