Updated on 02.20.07

Video Game Addict? Here’s A Plan For Saving A Lot Of Money

Trent Hamm

Even during my worst days of spending, it was clear to me that I was overspending on my video game hobby. In fact, it became one of the first things that I cut my spending on. I was able to do this by developing a clear plan for cutting back on my video game purchases. This plan reduced my video game spending from nearly $150 a month to about $30 a month almost overnight.

Pledge yourself to a two month hiatus on new video game purchases. This is pretty simple; give yourself some time to breathe a little bit. After this hiatus, you can go back to buying games at whatever level seems appropriate, but simply do not purchase a new game for two months. That of course does not mean that you won’t expose yourself to new games over these two months; in fact…

Get a GameFly subscription. Now. This service is exactly like Netflix, except for video games. For $21.95 a month, you can have two games at home all the time; keep them as long as you want and return them in a prepaid envelope when you’re done to receive the next one on your list. I had stellar service with them the entire time I was with them.

As long as you have a strong urge to play the game daily, keep renting it. It really doesn’t matter how long this goes on, but if you have a passion for playing a game that keeps going and going and going, keep it and play it over and over again.

When a day passes where you don’t have an urge to play a game, return it. If you go through a day where you think of other games, but the one in question doesn’t cross your mind in any significant way, it’s a sure sign that your passion for it is waning. Get something else that excites you; you can always come back to this one.

If you have a burning desire to play a game again, rent it again. Now comes the time to test the replayability of a title. If you’re re-adding it to your list, that means that it has some residual interest for you, which is a sign that this may be a game that you want to add to your collection. Rent it again, and see how it feels all over again.

If you add a game to your list for a fourth time, consider buying it. This means that you’ve consistently returned to the game over an extended period of time, which likely means that it has a high replay value for you. It also means that it is no longer the newest game on the market and can likely be purchased at a discount (often $19.95).

Under this plan, for the last two years that I owned my video game systems (I sold them shortly after my son was born because, well, playing with him was more fun), I purchased only five games: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, FIFA Soccer, Animal Crossing, Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec, and Madden NFL. Before buying, I rented every one of these games several times, and every one of these games was already at a relative bargain price when I finally bought it. Plus, I was very much able to keep up with the latest games and I avoided buying a lemon that I liked at first glance but grew tired of quickly.

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  1. Bloomberg says:

    Two things I’d like to add here: if you find yourself renting the same game repeatedly from GameFly, or if you like it so much that you hold onto it for over two weeks, consider using their Keep It option, which allows you to buy it from GF at a discount.

    Second thing is they have all kinds of reduced pricing this month (Dec.), like half off many of the games and free shipping in many cases, so getting a subscription for someone is a good Xmas gift, or you could go with one of the gift certs on their site if you don’t want to get someone a whole subscription.

    Anyways, that’s all I have to add. Thanks for the info. Happy holidays, all.

  2. Jigsaw hc says:

    You can save $5 a month on your GameFly membership with BrightSpot

  3. Bill says:

    too bad this doesn’t factor in us classic gamers who spend hundreds monthly on used games for systems older than gamefly offers

  4. Danielle says:

    My husband had a habit as bad as you described when we got married. His mother actually worried about this a bit… about whether her son could tone down the hobby and be a good husband and father.

    He did, and he did it on his own. However, we still play a lot of video games in our home. One big adaptation that we’ve made is that we play together. Another is that we play each game we have until it can be played no more. Right now, we’re playing a game together that he’s already played several times… but it’s still fun, especially because he won’t tell me how the storyline ends.

  5. Geoff says:

    Gamefly seems like a great option for the heavy gamer who goes through a lot of “lemon” titles, but what about more casual gamers that buy to own?

    A large portion of the gaming market is made up of weekend warriors who rush to buy the new Halo or Need for Speed title, and end up playing it with their buds for a really long time. For someone like this, who buys video games less than once every two months, and plays those games into the ground, Gamefly just isn’t economical.

    There are other methods to save money on purchasing games. One specifically controversial, but lucrative one is engaging in Trade-in Arbitrage, where you buy video games that are on special sales at one retailer and trade them in at the other during a promotion such as Trade 3 Get 1 Free. Using this method you can consistently get new release games for under $30 with a little running around. I wrote an article about it on my blog: http://thethriftylifestyle.com/2010/02/frugal-101-how-to-get-any-video-game-for-30/

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