Americans spent a total of $25.3 billion on video games last year. Because of their popularity, new video game consoles are constantly being introduced, which makes it easy to be overwhelmed and confused by the glut of choices—especially if you're not in the know. However, even if you don't know what a "backwards compatible PS3" is or whether Nintendo 3DS games can be played on a classic DS, you can still save money when purchasing a console and the games to go with it.
1. Wait Out the Hype
When the Playstation 3 first came on the market, it carried a price tag of more than $600. These days, however, you can find one for half as much. Once the hype wears off, gaming consoles usually become more affordable and more widely available. By just waiting a few months after a system launches, you can save as much as hundreds of dollars.
2. Buy Used
You probably won't need to wait long to see a recently released system selling used on eBay or Amazon. Visit these websites frequently to score a discounted price on the latest, greatest systems and games.
Also, check GameStop, thrift stores, or your local pawn shop. New video games can cost as much as $60, while used games are often half that.
3. Shop Garage Sales
It's expected that you'll be able to find great deals at garage sales, and if you're bold, you may be able to haggle prices down even further. Research upcoming garage sales online or in local newspapers—most people holding a sale will mention a premium item like a gaming system in their ad. If the phone number is listed, call to verify whether the games or system for sale are what you're interested in.
4. Rent Games
Websites like GameFly or Gamerang allow you to rent games, just as Netflix allows you to rent movies. There are no due dates or late fees, and subscriptions start as low as $15.95 per month. You can also cancel your membership at any time.
5. Resell Your Old System
If you plan to upgrade, sell your old system and put the money you earn toward a new console. Selling on eBay or Amazon may be your best bet, as making an online sale is sure to net you a better price than selling at a garage sale. Just be sure to accurately describe the condition, including any flaws, and ship the item as soon as you receive payment.
6. Unplug Your Device
Unplugging your game console and other electrical devices when it's not in use can significantly save energy costs at home. But don't just leave it in idle mode—turn the system off completely, and you can save as much as $160 annually. And what better way to spend your savings than on new games?
For many of us, video games are a regular part of life. But that doesn't mean we have to constantly shell out big bucks for the newest consoles and games. There are always ways to save as long as you're willing to do a little legwork and avoid the big-box retailers.
What other ways can you suggest to save on video games and systems?
David Bakke frequently buys games for himself and his young son. He shares his tips and insights for smart shopping and money management on Money Crashers Personal Finance.