How to Handle a Costly Hobby
While it’s socially acceptable to spend $10 per drink several nights a week, spending less than one night’s worth of drinks on a game sadly isn’t.
Before graduation and becoming an adult who earns and manages my own indulgences, I owned 41 games, and now eight months later according to Backloggery, I have a shocking 115. Somehow I purchased 74 games in less than a year, nearly twice as many as the number of games I collected over the past 10+ years. Oi…
However, Spendee says I have only spent around $250! (This isn’t counting the roughly 10 games my mom bought me for graduation, my birthday, and early Christmas via Black Friday.) If I had purchased every one of these games at Gamestop full price like a lot of people do, the price will easily reach the thousands. I have somehow turned a very costly hobby against itself.
With any hobby the cost can be high because hobbies are destined to be that way, which is why it’s best to have a good grip of how to handle your money. Here are my strategies:
1. Wait it out!
The best thing to do is not buying something immediately upon release, when they are the most expensive. The only games I’ve ever bought on launch day are Super Smash Bros for Wii U and Pokemon Alpha Sapphire because Nintendo cleverly decided to release them on the same day. I always wait a couple of months for a good discount, which brings me to important point #2.
2. Know your discounts.
It’s not only Black Friday that has mega sales to look for (staring you down, Gamestop).
If you are a US resident, purchase things from Amazon for discounts! I’ve gotten way too many amazing deals from Amazon in every department, and the shipping has always been incredibly fast. About 90% of my physical games are from Amazon, where there are many regular discounts of $10-$15. In fact, Dragon Age Inquisition is only $40 today, and that’s a brand new release. Just grabbed it with my farewell gift card from my old job!
If you have a PC, Steam is a good place to load up on non-Ubisoft titles for up to 80% off during not only the infamous Summer Sale, but also their Daily Deal or Weekend Deals! (The Weeklong Deals are terrible so don’t look at those.) I have 48 games on Steam and not even one of them was more than $5-$7.
Xbox.com also has great digital deals every few weeks, or every week if you’re a Gold member.
There’s a digital sale going on at Playstation right now, and they often have weekend flash sales. Like Xbox, it mainly benefits PS+ members.
3. Join Club Nintendo.
Most people think Nintendo is just an evil corp that only sells undiscounted exclusive games. Well, you can register every game or console you buy at Club Nintendo for coins that you can use to redeem some Virtual Console titles. Every once in a while Nintendo also gives out a more expensive game for free if you buy a specific game they are promoting. I got Pikmin 3, a $39 value, for free when I registered Mario Kart 8.
4. Bundle up!
Humble Bundle is awesome, because every other week they put together a bundle full of games for which you can name a price as low as $1, and then decide where your money goes to (charity, the developers, or Humble itself)! Not all the bundles are good, but it’s great for getting Indie games at a VERY low price and donate to charities at the same time. Your money actually buys Steam keys, so if there’s a game in the bundle you already have, just send it to a friend! Humble also has weekend, summer, and holiday sales, though the prices don’t beat Steam’s.
Traditional console bundles aren’t bad either, if you can wait for them. They are best for late-to-the-party people like me, ha. I got the Zelda Wii U bundle with the Hylian gamepad, and the glacier white PS4. The Wind Waker HD and Destiny came with them for free, respectively.
5. Take advantage of 24-hour free offers.
Humble Bundle occasionally gives out free Steam keys. I got Tropico 3 for free a while ago. Last weekend EA gave out a free Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare to PS4 owners. Neither game I will play much in the long run, but hey they are free.
If all of this sounds too tiring to manage on your own, here’s my bonus advice: follow experts. There are designated people at IGN and Kotaku who dig up every one of these discounts. They publish deals articles every single day. I’m sure there are discount experts for just about anything you’d like to buy. My problem now isn’t how short I am on cash, it’s how short I am on time to play all of these games!