Why are video games so damn expensive? Video games cost a lot to make and are works of art and craft unto themselves, which often means they’re rather pricey at first glance. Nevertheless, it’s enough to make you wish you could get games for free - which, of course, you can. You’ll just be breaking the law in the process. There are, however, legal ways of getting games cheaply which don’t involve piracy or limited functionality (as is the case with demo and trial versions). Here are a few options which you might want to consider.
No, this doesn’t involve eco-bins or hippies; you can get games for a fraction of their usual price by buying them second-hand. Most gaming and electronics stores have second-hand sections where you can pick up ex-rental or trade-in copies at heavily discounted prices. You can even trade in your used games for new ones, making the deal even sweeter. Sure, you’ll find some pretty old titles which might look all the worse for wear, but quite often you’ll also be able to pull up some recently-released titles which people have bought then returned after a few days.
Pros: Heavy discounts and the ability to get rid of your old games even as you get new ones.
Cons: Quality can be suspect at times, and the newest releases can be hard to get.
As always, buying stuff online is usually a lot cheaper than going to a bricks-and-mortar store. The same applies to games, including the latest titles, and you can shop online either on the big hubs like eBay and Amazon or go to smaller niche sites (sometimes even those run by the game publishers themselves). In general, even high-profile releases will be quite substantially cheaper than in stores, making this a very attractive value proposition for the financially conscious. Postage waiting times can be a bit of a burden, though, and returns of faulty games is often a hassle albeit one which doesn’t occur especially often.
Pros: Discounts over all titles, including that game you’ve been waiting to buy for ages.
Cons: Postage costs and waiting, tedious returns policies, no humans to talk to.
Don’t want to wait? Legal downloads of games are the best way to stay up to speed with the latest releases without having to pay top dollar. By far the most well-known and stable platforms for legal downloads is Steam, initially a dedicated download hub for games made by developer Valve which has now grown to sell a huge array of titles to gamers all over the world. Speeds are fast - if you have the connection to match - and prices are decent, with payment options including Paypal and all major credit cards. Steam is currently the only real option out there (and a popular one at that), but expect major online centers like Amazon and iTunes to get in on the market in the near future.
Pros: No waiting in queues, no faulty CDs, no overinflated prices. A great way to get your games.
Cons: If you don’t have high-speed broadband, don’t even bother.
Supporting the games industry should be a priority to gamers, with many pirates themselves urging downloaders to buy full versions if they appreciate the game. With these options, virtual entertainment doesn’t have to burn a whole in your too-real wallet.