Being a broke college student, and a gamer, is expensive. With all of the expenses of day-to-day life, it’s hard to excuse a new $60 game. But, if you’re like me, you nevertheless want to fuel your passion to game even on your reduced budget. I have some tips and tricks that might help you save a couple of bucks while doing so.
I should mention that I am a PC purist, and therefore all of my advice is tailored to PC gamers. But, I have other reasons for this choice. Contrary to common belief, for those of us really passionate about gaming, PCs are cheaper options than using consoles. Sure, buying a gaming PC is almost always more expensive than a console. But, once you have the PC, you no longer have to pay for online access, and, if you know where to look, games are significantly cheaper. As much as I would like to help out my console-gaming readers, they just don’t have many options outside of established used-game retailers; these retailers buy used games for too little and sell them for too much.
The key to great PC game deals is patience. Usually, if you want to buy a game at any discount, you’ll be waiting for a month or two after it is released. If you usually rush off to buy a game the day it releases, you had better be prepared to pay full price. For those of us who wait, however, there is an entire ecosystem of discounted game-dealers across the web.
The most well known and widely used is Steam. Steam has made a name for itself among gamers for having startlingly good deals and a massive game library. But, if you were to check the deals going on now, you probably aren’t going to be suddenly inclined to break out your wallet; the real attraction to Steam is their annual sales. Steam’s big sale events are in Summer, Fall and Winter. And, according to When is the Next Steam Sale, the next event should be coming up around June 23. When these sales do arrive, two(ish) weeks of great deals on most of the Steam library are available.
When everything is on sale, it’s hard to resist sacrificing an entire paycheck. There are tricks to ensure you are getting the best deals possible. Furthermore, since the sales change every year, it’s hard to plan for them. That’s why I recommend all gamers quickly read over a guide on how to get the most games for the least money before diving straight into the Steam sale.
Other than Steam, one of my favorite websites for deals is been HumbleBundle. This website is possibly one of the most wholesome and wonderful digital storefronts out there. Humble Bundle regularly has a rotation of great bundled game deals, ranging from obscure indie games to AAA titles. It offers multiple bundles at any given time. They usually have a game bundle, a book bundle, a mobile bundle (typically Android games) and their monthly bundle. All of them, save the monthly, are built on a pay-what-you-want and give-to-who-you-want system that is unique to Humble Bundle. To put it simply, you can pay any amount of money over a dollar and then decide how much of your purchase will go to charity, the game developer or to Humble Bundle. They encourage you to spend more by dangling the better games in higher price tiers. This usually requires you to beat the average donation or hit a certain price point, but it rarely ever exceeds $20. However, it is still cheaper, most of the time, to buy the whole bundle than it is to buy the individual games at their current sale price.
HumbleBundle’s monthly bundle, on the other hand, has recently caught my attention, and was convincing enough to give a shot. Every month, they offer a highly curated bundle of games at a fixed price. They start each bundle by showing off one hit game from the past few months that you can get immediately. For just $12, you unlock that game and it’s all yours. The headlining game is usually a $40-plus value, so $12 is a substantial discount already. But, at the end of the month when the bundle ends, they send out keys for a whole bunch of other games guaranteed to be valued at a price of at least $100. The games provided are seemingly random and not always what you expect. I have, however, been curiously impressed by the quality and value of their selections.
You can check the past monthly bundles yourself and see just how crazy good of deals they really are. The games in their bundles may not be for everyone, but since they cycle through them regularly, I still recommend checking back every week or two. You might be pleasantly surprised with what you find.
On the other hand, if you don’t want to rely on random bundles and far off sales to get the exact game you want, but still desire a cheaper price tag, there are multiple places across the web where you can find game keys bought and sold for significantly discounted prices. The struggle of finding the best deal has become more of a community effort these days. The subreddit /r/GameDeals was built with one goal in mind, to never pay full price again. It is a community of nearly half a million users constantly sharing and talking about the best game deals on the web. They pride themselves on listing sales only from authorized game key resellers and verified sources.
This subreddit helps to avoid a prevalent problem. When you search the web, you find that there are tons of sites claiming to offer huge savings on game keys. Most of them are third party vendors, typically independent of the developer and from the platform the game is sold on. I find myself to be pretty suspicious of most of these sites, but have landed on two that are a bit more reputable than others: Green Man Gaming and G2A. They both boast a huge library of games, often at great deals. In fact, they sometimes even offer discounts on AAA games not even released yet.
I know I said earlier that discounts come to those who wait. So, I bet you are wondering, what’s the catch? Well, the catch is that these game dealers have recently come under scrutiny for potentially selling stolen codes sold on the “gray market.” Developers and prominent users have claimed that these sites benefit from stolen property and harm the game industry overall. Both companies have denied these claims, and have taken steps to distance themselves from these practices. It isn’t certain what the truth is, but if knowing it would change your mind, I recommend doing some reading.
Still not sure where to get the best deal? Look to sites like CheapShark and IsThereAnyDeal. They scour all of the major game retailers and offer a constantly updated price on any game in their library. They are usually right on with their deals, but it still doesn’t hurt to do some extra digging on your own.
No matter what, if you are determined, there is a deal out there for you.
Contact arts contributor Christopher Koehler at firstname.lastname@example.org.