Gaming For Less: Play The Best Video Games On A Budget

by Millie Kay G. on 2008-10-2050

Do you love gaming, but want to do it for less? Here are a few suggestions on how you can enjoy the best video games while keeping an eye on your budget.

When I was younger, my parents brought home an Intellivision gaming console, thereby turning me into a gamer for life. Fast forward a few decades, and imagine my surprise when they gave me a Sony Playstation 3. Although I’m fortunate to have such generous parents, I’m interested in finding out how to get a new gaming console for less than full price, and whether it’s possible to be a “gamer” on a budget. Electronic toys have fairly short lifespans, so it’s always good to pick up money saving tricks before you shop for that next big toy or gadget.

How To Get Into Gaming Without Spending A Lot

1. Figure out which features you want.

What features do you want for your next video game console? If you want to play games as well as watch Blu-ray movies, you should check out the PS3. If you want a bigger catalog of video games and a media center, the XBox 360 might be your thing. How about the Wii? It has games for a wide variety of age groups. In addition, handhelds like the Nintendo DS and the PSP offer connectivity with their console siblings. By narrowing down your choices, you can allocate your money to those items you really want.

2. It’s worth it to study the available games.

A large number of games are available on multiple consoles, such as Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and Madden NFL 09. However, if you’re a fan of a certain series, you should check to see if it’s out on the console you’re eyeing. For example, the popular game Metal Gear Solid 4 that was released only on the PS3 and Halo, is actually an XBox franchise. If you want to spread your Mario addiction to the next generation, then catch your gold coins on the Wii. Don’t forget to peruse the low-priced games that you can download via the Playstation Network, XBox Live Arcade, and the Wii Shop Channel.

You can also learn about games at rental places like and in stores like Going through the list of rental titles can be a barometer of what’s popular on the game systems.

video gaming, video games
Photo by Gaming Today

3. Will you still love Wii tomorrow?

I’d love for Wii Fit to tell me how I could be healthier, but I won’t buy a console for just one game. I’d have to convince myself that I’d still be using the Wii a year from now. One way to do that is to make a list of five must-have games. Also, I could ask people I know who own Wiis if they think it’s a good match for my family. Other good sources of console talk are the gaming blogs like and, which will let you know what’s going on at the moment with your console of choice.

4. Find the best prices for video games or pick up second-hand titles.

Retailers like Best Buy and Walmart usually have a steady supply of consoles available. However, a little patience and price-tracking can be more rewarding in the long run. A peek at Google Product Search turns up a ton of listings for the Xbox 360 in a range of prices. But for an even better bargain, purchase a used system from marketplace favorites like eBay or Craigslist, or go through second-hand titles and offerings at stores like GameStop and

5. Don’t forget the accessories.

Before you finish console shopping, see if you need accessories like extra controllers, a remote control, headsets, keyboards, or memory cards. I just got an e-mail from listing some great prices on a Memory Stick that my PS3 would eat up.

6. Customer service may not have to cost extra.

One other factor to consider if you own a console, is how best to get it fixed if the need ever arises. The good news is that customer service departments from the game console companies are usually quite responsive.

Sony made things easy for me when I had problems with my PS3’s Blu-ray drive. After I called customer service, they sent me a shipping box for the defective console and mailed me a replacement unit within a week or so. Since I was still in the warranty period, it didn’t cost extra.

Although the Xbox 360 got some flak for the well-known “Red Ring of Death” problem, the warranty coverage for the console seems generous with regards to this matter. Nintendo also offers a one year warranty for its products. These warranties usually apply to the original purchaser, so keep those receipts handy.

On the flip-side, there’s at least one downside to owning a used gaming system: those of you who buy a second-hand console may need to pay extra for repairs — ask the seller before you commit your money.

7. And finally, don’t be an early adopter.

Remember the headlines when the PS3, the XBox 360, and the Wii first came out? In some cases, the consoles were hard to find. If they weren’t in retail stores, they were popping up on eBay sporting some tremendous prices. To avoid the rush the next time a new console releases, and to sidestep the shortages and the stratospheric prices, wait until the shopping frenzy dies down.

By watching the prices, listing what you want ahead of time, and making room in your budget for games and accessories, you can start gaming with your family in confidence. As for me, I’m off to find some treasure and explore some abandoned dungeons while I wait for Final Fantasy XIII!

Copyright © 2008 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Jack @ San Diego LF October 20, 2008 at 8:20 am

Not being an early adopter is surely the easiest ways to save BIG bucks on video games. I prefer PC gaming, and if you act like you are living 4 years ago in the gaming world you will be able to find some pretty fun titles for pretty cheap. You might not be able to maximize your graphics card and all that jazz, but you will be able to have all the fun your friends did four years ago at a fraction of the price.

Caleb Nelson October 20, 2008 at 12:18 pm

I own both the XBOX 360 and the Nintendo Wii. Personally, I enjoy the 360 a tremendous amount more. But the games that bring the most jubilee to my girlfriend are on the Wii. She absolutely adores that cute little thing. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking at a gaming console for the family. For real guys looking for real games I’d definitely recommend the XBOX 360 or the Playstation 3.


AmeriGlide October 21, 2008 at 7:42 am

You bring up some really good points. I think the Wii really fell into the “Is it worth it for the available games” category, because there really aren’t any exceptional games for it. Sure the concept is groundbreaking, but they really don’t have enough computing power to put out anything really cool. For kids though, the Wii is still a great choice.

I am partial to the Xbox, although I haven’t bought one yet because I don’t have enough time to play.

Even though you have to pay for Xbox Live, I think it is worth it because of how good of a job it does as far as the social side of it goes. It definitely leaves Playstation in the dust in this regard. There are also some really cool games for the Xbox.

Scott B. October 21, 2008 at 9:47 am

I have owned PS1 and Xbox, still own PS2, PS3 with HDTV and XBox 360. Saved a bunch being a game junkie at EBGames which became GameStop. Get great deals from the guys who work there. Also trade games with fellow gamers once or twice before I trade them in for cash.

Austin REB October 21, 2008 at 9:58 am

I used to be a much more avid gamer than I am now, but if I were playing as much as I used to, I’d check out Gamefly. Gamefly is basically Netflix for console games. I think it’s about 15 per month, but if you either beat or hate a game, at least you can get another one for less than the $40 that new games cost.

Another good idea is to use the trial or demo software that many games are coming out with to test out the game before you buy it. I have an Xbox 360 and download a bunch of games to test them out before I buy one. It’s free and only takes a minute to do so I think it’s a good way to ensure you get a good game.

Happy gaming!

Mike Wow October 21, 2008 at 2:02 pm

I only play World of Warcraft on my PC but even this costs a lot since you have to pay for it every two months. And they release new extensions and you have to pay for them too. Gaming is sometimes really expensive hobby but I think in years with more competition it will get much cheaper.

Kurt @ Firecreek Systems October 21, 2008 at 8:40 pm

I never got into console gaming. But am a hardcore gamer, I love WoW, Unreal, and BF. The kicker is paying the subscriptions every month, thats what adds up, but I look at it as meditation, so I think its worth the price. Having the games on a PC saves in cost for getting an XBox or Wii or whatever else. Food for thought.

JVG Consultant October 22, 2008 at 4:30 am

I like the WII because I can download all the old games like Space Invaders. Maybe I should just play with the old games.

Jamie October 22, 2008 at 6:45 am

No matter how you cut it it is still very expensive to get into gaming. For the younger crowd I would also suggest talking to your parents about helping you out around christmas time (maybe paying half and you paying half). Also, just remember that you need to have the time to play these games. Your making a big investment, so there is no point in having something that you never use.

I like your suggestion not to be an early adopter. Sounds like a voice of experience. It’s difficult to wait for the product, but if you do prices always go down.

Alex October 23, 2008 at 2:30 pm

Honestly there are tons and tons of great sites around the internet to find games for all consoles new and used. You’re right, it’s just a matter of having patience and looking around for the best deal.


Ron October 29, 2008 at 2:13 pm

It’s not easy but the tip about not adopting a game console before they worked the bugs out is a good one. The Xbox 360 had big problems when they came out, they were real prone to overheating.

Melog October 31, 2008 at 6:43 pm

Seconded on the gamefly thing, it really is a great service. Playing a flat monthly fee > blowing $60 every time a new game comes out.

Nuffy November 2, 2008 at 10:08 am

It is true that gaming can be very expensive, but with the recent 360 reductions, it’s looking better. I guess I’m lucky I got my 360 for free. Woo!

Pogo Lover November 13, 2008 at 2:32 pm

I have found a lot of sites where you can find good online games for free; it’s been fun play for my family.

Ed: I am sure it’s great fun. The Digerati Spouse founded that site, so I’ll tell him how much you love it. 😉

rick January 15, 2009 at 11:35 am

Think I will get a PS3 as I give up on the Xbox 360 as they do overheat and I found out not to do the xbox towel trick as it can wreck it, see link.

Red Ring Of Death

MichalKolowski March 17, 2009 at 10:52 am

For me Ebay is the greatest place to find cheap games 🙂

Batman April 7, 2009 at 7:04 am

There are lots of good new and used games from Amazon, craigslist and ebay. But to get the best deals you have to wait a little. It is trough to get deals when the games are brand new. Sometimes they are sold out and back ordered.

Lars April 23, 2009 at 5:27 am

Second that, ebay for cheap games! 🙂

But one thing I really don’t understand, how can somebody really want to play FPS-games on a console? I mean, common! Mouse ‘n keyboard, ya hear?

Have anyone tried mouse/keybord on 360 btw?

Warcraft Millionaire Review May 24, 2009 at 11:41 pm

I think we can all agree that with the way the internet is now and ebay and such it just makes sense to buy used games. I mean when you think about if video games are almost 10x worse then cars in the depreciation department.

I remember a friend of mine who took Grand Theft Auto IV to his local gamestop like 2 weeks after the game had come out and they were willing to give him like $5 for the game. I mean cmon give me a break that just makes no sense. Especially when he was able to sell that same game online for $35 + $5 shipping.

Xbox Fan June 11, 2009 at 8:50 am

You can get plenty of Pre-owned games at Game and Gamestation, in store or online…even some of the latest titles. They are also good places to trade in your old games against the price of something else. Personally I only buy new if I cant find it pre-owned ;o)

Aidan July 5, 2009 at 3:29 am

Interesting article. I own a laptop and Xbox 360. Huge fan of my Xbox, but the disadvantage is definitely the ring of death. I preferred the graphics on the Xbox than on the PS3. Not a fan of the type of games you get on Wii. I’m not keen on the PSP, I prefer playing on a bigger screen. The PS3 is good and I’ve heard its reliable. I would say the PC wins this debate, but that depends on the technology in the PC. The Xbox and PS3 have caught up though with the ability to download content off the internet to the console. This was a big advantage for Personal Computers before game consoles were able to connect to the internet. I think the debate is personal choice, your choice in games and graphics are a big step in deciding. If you didn’t know which to purchase, I’d suggest asking a friend and playing on their console. A range of games. Only then will you have an idea of which console you personally prefer.

Repair Man Dan July 7, 2009 at 4:32 pm

Cool article, the early adopter point is something more people (including myself!) need to listen to. Perfect example is the Xbox 360, as you can now get the arcade version for only 200 bucks, which makes it way more cost effective than Wii or PS3!

jeff September 3, 2009 at 5:58 pm

I recently found out I am being laid off, and have only now started to think about gaming on a budget. I stumbled on this blog and it has made me think of several things. I have both a wii and a ps3, but the games I love the most are the most basic ones that I currently own. There is too much frenzy over the “biggest and best” games of the year. We need to concentrate on what we like instead of following the masses of the new release category.

Chris December 13, 2009 at 4:00 pm

Another way to save money but still play the latest video games to to learn how to copy xbox games. You can copy an original from a rented game or one of your friends original. Special software is required to make a 1:1 playable copy so you just can’t put a recordable dvd in your computer and then try to make a copy. The game manufacturers have special copyright protections built into the discs. Also consider buying used games from Gamestop or electronics boutique and you can save a ton. I have found new releases within a week of their release at a huge discounted price.

Dmitriy December 13, 2009 at 5:35 pm

How about learning how to burn xbox 360 games onto discs? There’s software that does this and also makes copies of wii, ps2, ps3, pc games; you can save tons of $$ in the long run.

Silicon Valley Blogger December 13, 2009 at 5:53 pm

Distributing copied DVDs would be illegal, but copying it for your own use after you’ve purchased it…?

Jay December 29, 2009 at 10:37 pm

tip number 7 is definitely the biggest saver of all. I just recently even considered buying an xbox 360 because of the price (and low failure rates).

Daniel January 28, 2010 at 2:00 am

I always exchange my backup Xbox 360game copies with my friends. Through this way, each of us only spend a little money but can play more video games. I often talked with my pals about how to copy xbox 360 games. I enjoy all the Xbox 360 games I have. LOL

Patrick JJ March 19, 2010 at 10:53 am

What I do is purchase used games for my Xbox 360 on Amazon. Really cheap. I save at least $20 each time.

paul alesaandrini April 6, 2010 at 4:50 pm

With the high cost of games, I’ve found that renting them is far cheaper than buying them outright. There are clubs online for this. Just like Netflix is for movies. You will really save some money.

MGV April 25, 2010 at 10:19 am

Gaming is still expensive to get into. I find that the best way to do it is to just buy a decent PC and decent graphics card. PC games are usually cheaper and Steam has some great offers.

Rick April 26, 2010 at 8:13 am

I suppose gaming is always going to be sort of pricey. However I have been able to get some used games for a pretty good price online and at some stores like game stop. As far as consoles I was able to referb a xbox 360 as well and that was for a good price. So I guess all comes down to how much digging around you want to do. As far as wii games are concerned, I do like some of them however they all seem a little too cartoonish for me.

James May 1, 2010 at 6:55 pm

I always just get used games from EB/GameStop or buy from people selling their used games on Kijiji. I usually save about 20 bucks on each game when I do.

Jeff May 8, 2010 at 3:16 pm

These are some great tips. Also for anyone reading the comments, don’t let the Red Ring of Death turn you off to a 360. If you do get it, it usually happens during the warranty time and can be fixed rather quickly. It usually doesn’t happen again after that. Even if it does, most of them are easy fixes (let it cool down, broken cables).

Patrick June 3, 2010 at 7:28 am

What I used to do back when I wanted to save as much money as possible is buy the last gen consoles. Right now if you buy a PS2 or an Xbox, you can get ton of great games for super cheap. For the price of one full priced game for the Xbox 360($60), you can buy 5 or six games on the PS2 or Xbox.

And Chris, you shouldn’t promote the pirating of video games. It’s illegal and it a slap in the face to the developers who worked so hard to make the game.


ultimate wow guide September 21, 2010 at 5:10 am

Ebay is the best place to buy cheap games.

karla February 22, 2011 at 4:55 am

I agree with the ultimate wow guide. For me, if you want to buy cheap stuff especially for gaming, you should go to ebay! eBay contains different categories and cheap stuff that you can choose from. You can also bid easily for any video games you like!

victor April 27, 2011 at 11:47 am

With regards to the price, Wii, I think, is the best choice. Especially with the economy like we live today, some of the consoles cost quite a bit. Xbox 360 is awesome too, but not as much for family fun as the Wii is. Disadvantages of the Wii: it cannot play DVDs without modification or reworking the chip. If you know how to mod the Wii, then you’re lucky.

Super Nerd February 6, 2012 at 9:43 pm

Boy I had to stop buying games because they’re way too expensive. The only way I get games nowadays is if I turn in my old games for credit, but than you get crap. So you have to use your credit to get the used games that have been out for 2 years…..yeah that’s gaming on a budget these days.


Steve March 3, 2012 at 11:14 am

Not buying early is probably the biggest one for sure. I cringed when I saw friends of mine go out and buy the PS3 on its launch date for $500-$600, when in just a few months it would drop down significantly. I guess to some people, it is just worth it to pay that much more and not have to wait.

Leave a Comment