Anthony "Tony" Magestro--or known on the field of battle as Metzge--is an avid writer, gamer, and entrepreneur. When he's not writing, gaming, or entrepreneuring, he enjoys cooking, trippy movies, and trying to be awesome to varying degrees of success. Feel free to check out his LinkedIn page, especially if you need freelance help with content writing or digital marketing. Or just like to network, that's fine too.
Can you remember the last time you bought a physical copy of a PC game? Personally, I can’t, though the latest of the only two physical games I have in my possession is dated 2010. With the likes of Steam, GOG, Origin, and a bunch of other digital retailers, buying games from all eras has become easier than ever. However, what was once considered convenience has now become a pox upon the wallets of a once proud and grateful race: the PC gamer.
For me, collecting games has almost become as fun as playing them. That can be read good or bad, but let’s be honest: when 80% off sales are dangling in front of you, for some reason you find yourself just that much more interested. It’s a clever tactic, but if you’re going to spend money, you might as well be smart about it. All too often I hear my console-n00b friends gripe about how expensive PC gaming is, let alone being preyed upon by Lord Gaben and his tempting proposals, but let me dispel these financial fears. You and your savings account will thank me.
1) TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SALES
Like I just said: if you’re gonna spend money, might as well be smart about it. Even pre-ordering games comes with discounts nowadays and with things like flash sales, Early Access, and multi-packs of games, there’s no excuse to buy anything full price anymore.
Though I know it’s hard for the PC master race to abandon the concept of brand loyalty, in order to really stretch your gaming budget, you’ll have to keep track of sales across–at the very least–the major distributors. For me, that’d be Steam, GOG, Amazon, and Origin. Though it takes a little getting used to managing multiple service clients, having accounts with multiple distributors has its benefits aside from utilizing competing sales. Much like Hulu and Netflix, digital game retailers have exclusives for those who subscribe to their services.
GOG, for example, has a lot of classic games from the 90s and early 2000s along with a selection of modern DRM-free games from lesser known developers. Origin and GOG both give away free games once in a great while (GOG just recently gave away the Battle Realms collection during its summer sale) and Steam offers free weekends to try out games from its catalog once every couple of weeks. It’s a pretty simple economic principle: if Company X is selling Product A for $5 and competitor Company Y is selling Product A for $20, you’ll spend $15 less going to Company X.
Besides, there’s nothing wrong with giving your money to someone else once in a while. Competition is healthy after all; why do you think all of these sales exist in the first place?
2) BUY IN BULK
Just like the physical realm, sometimes buying games in bulk is the way to go. Whether it’s a multi-pack of the same game (such as a 4-pack of Gauntlet for you and three friends) or a bundle of related titles, selling games in packs is a popular method to expose gamers to other titles they otherwise wouldn’t have bought on their own.
Aside from your regular sales, special websites such as Humble Bundle and Bundlestar exist offering… well… bundles of games. Where both have redeemable keys for your favorite service clients (though sometimes it varies between Origin and Steam), Humble Bundle offers you ways to donate your money to philanthropic causes if you’re feeling extra generous while also remaining thrifty. In their latest All Star Bundle, a portion of the proceeds were donated to initiatives like Watsi and Childs Play.
The beauty of it is that, minimally, you’re probably paying about $10 for at least five games. And if a certain charity hits home for you or you like a specific developer participating in that bundle, you can decide how much you pay for the games. Hell, some have paid thousands for them.
Still, “pay what you want” is a pretty good option to look for if you’re sore for money and still want to participate in glorious capitalism as well as philanthropy. Look at you. Already halfway to becoming a Rockefeller.
3) GAMIFY YOUR SPENDING LIMITS
How many of those games you’ve accumulated over the years have you actually beaten? With so many games out there nowadays (on top of our ever-shortening attention spans) completionism seems to be a thing of the past. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Achievement hunting can still be a thing and with a simple twist, you can use it to your (and your paycheck’s) advantage.
Use buying games as a reward for completing them. That is, for each game you beat, you can buy yourself a new one to replace it. For DLC, you can use achievements within a game to justify buying additional content (for every 10 achievements you earn in Crusader Kings 2, for example, you can buy one DLC). Max Payne 3 on sale but the first two are sitting in your library, neglected? Well, you better start hustlin’ if you wanna make it to the third in time to snag it while it’s cheap.
You can also set a threshold of how good a sale must be in order to take advantage. That is, only if the game is under $10 or 66% off. Whatever tickles you.
Sure, this technique requires a bit of self-discipline–but in fairness, so does resisting any sort of impulse buying. But at least it can also be used as a gauge for how many of those games you actually play and enjoy.
4) DON’T SAVE YOUR CREDIT CARD INFORMATION
Again, another clever trick disguised as convenience. 97% of the reason why buying things on the Internet is so fun is because in just a few clicks here, it’s like Christmas morning. Whether it’s new games ready to be installed or 34 miscellaneous packages from Amazon you drunkenly ordered at 3:30 in the morning, the joy of materialistic gain is still there.
If you opt out of keeping your credit card information saved on your digital retailer of choice, that extra effort of pulling your card out of your wallet to buy Kitten Krusher 14 (you don’t know why you’re buying it.. all you know is that it’s 95% off and only $0.79) might just keep you from committing to your purchase.
Or maybe I just have really weak willpower and this isn’t effective advice.
Still. Just try it. You might be surprised.
5) SELL YOUR STEAM JUNK
With the introduction of the inventory system on Steam, it’s not uncommon to accumulate a bunch of random stuff from games you’ve been playing, especially if they’re of the Valve variety. Some people really enjoy the trading card/badge/market system but others see it as another gimmick to make buying games a game in itself. If you don’t have any use for trading cards or weapon skins you collect in games like CS:GO, you can always off-load them on the Steam marketplace.
Normally cards go for a couple of cents here and there, but some CS:GO knife skins are worth hundreds of dollars (some people really like shiny knives). Personally, the most I’ve made off of any virtual item was about $3.50 from a machine gun skin and though it’s not enough to buy a game, it adds up–like a virtual coin jar labeled “Steam Fund.”
Of course, you can also measure this up to your “hopes and dreams” jar and use that as motivation to cut back your game spending.
What “hopes” and/or “dreams” are there aside from Fallout 4, amirite?