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).

Amazon deals

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!

Steam discounts

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 Marketplace also has great digital deals every few weeks, or every week if you’re a Gold member.

Playstation Store
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.

Club Nintendo

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.

I got these 9 indie games around $10 per title for only $8 TOTAL.

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.

Glory shot of my Hylian gamepad. PS4 at the bottom.

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!

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12 Comments to "How to Handle a Costly Hobby"

Alice B wrote on 11th December 2014 at 3:49 AM

geez, you’re lucky black friday exists in where you live. if only it exists here too, i’d probably buy games for myself instead of torrenting it. the only game i bought was the half life complete collection (1st and 2nd with all the DLCs) just because it was on super sale on steam. i wasn’t even a huge fan of half life but i bought it anyway just because it’s super cheap at that time and i just wanted to own original games for once – original nds and gba games i owned when i was a kid don’t count, okay LOL

i think it’s general logic to understand that video games are more expensive upon release 😛 and unless one is a filthy rich gamer, it’s best to wait. my friend and i always track steam down and we’re currently waiting for winter sale – well, mostly him because i don’t have credit card on my own. sucks, eh. this is the reason why i want my own credit card lol. though i can get him to buy for me using his cc and i’ll pay him cash… still… i wish i have a cc.

however, me being a poor gamer who torrent stuff, i always check skidrow above everything else 😛 they’re pretty quick with cracking newly released games – ahem, *stares at AC Unity and CoD AW* if i were rich, i don’t mind buying, say, bioshock trilogy from steam when they’re on sale but because i’m a cheapskate, i’m like, “but i’ve pirated them so nah i won’t buy them” i’m so horrible :))

i don’t get why people think nintendo is an evil corp. guys, the right thing is that all game companies are evil! hah. take activision; they release new CoD like every year. also EA where they make a sims 4 pool as DLC for $99… or ubisoft releasing like two assassin’s creed this year and preparing for another one next year pfft game industries are evil zaibatsu, man…

you make me wanna steal your bank account or something. why are you so rich that you can afford so many games!? ORIGINAL games, i may as well add. i don’t care if you buy discounted games, they’re still ORIGINAL and you BOUGHT them and i’m so jealous of that!!


Liv Reply:

I think games are probably more affordable in the US than in Asia. I only spent around $250 for all those games, and that’s not a lot of money for me at all. But it comes at a price of never having more than 4-5 hours a week to play games because I’m always so tired from work. So you can either have money to buy games or time to play games, but not both, ha!!!


Alice B Reply:

yeap, everything in the US is much cheaper, especially when it comes to tech related stuff. how unfair TAT it’s because you guys were the one mass producing them lol

YOU HAVE TO MAKE TIME FOR BOTH so to have a win win solution :))


Liz wrote on 13th December 2014 at 2:45 AM

My problem is with domains. And with TCGs. And more recently, it’s been playing with food. :l

I have noticed, though, that certain subscription boxes do save me money, and I’ve made myself look at other things I want instead of just the domains, and that has helped a bit. c:


Liv Reply:

I used to have domain addiction too. But I took advantage of Namecheap’s holiday trivia contest, and their occasional contests throughout the year. Then there’s the Black Friday deals, though I feel those are harder to grab than being a random trivia contest winner. Also Namecheap tends to have $0.98 deals randomly. That’s how I got two .me domains (both expired now).

I sometimes don’t understand why people buy $14 domains at Godaddy.


Cat wrote on 14th December 2014 at 2:29 AM

I’ve learned to wait it out on most games. The only ones I buy at launch are ones I plan on playing immediately. In the past, I’d jump on the first sale or deal I saw… and then the game would just sit there! I realized by the time I got around to playing it, it was already at a lower price or a steeper sale 🙁 I’ve gotten used to waiting around for the 60%+ off sales on Steam, haha.

I need to keep up with my Club Nintendo account. I’m actually sad that the rewards feature less and less physical merchandise. They used to offer things like game holders, more poster options, and collectible items. I miss those 🙁

I’ve bought a few Humble Bundles in the past, but I always try to pay at or above the average. The more that goes to charity, the better!

Though I’m not a fan of Origin, they offer a free game every day. In the past, Dragon Age: Origins and Dead Space were free for a day, so there are some good things up for grabs sometimes 🙂


Liv Reply:

The only reason I didn’t mention Origin is because it’s a not-as-great competitor of Steam and will be an extra account to make. I was rather tempted to get Origin the day Dragon Age Origins was free, but I didn’t. I ended up getting that game for $7 from Xbox with my Live Gold trial!


Raisa wrote on 16th December 2014 at 8:16 PM

This post made me look at how many games I have on Steam. I have 307 games. Oh snap!

In fairness, more than half of those belong to my husband. We have Steam family sharing, so only one of us need a copy and we can both access it. That’s helped a lot in curbing our spending. And of course, we always wait on sales for guys we want.

The only exception for me is when I’ve been waiting for a game to launch (like Dragon Age and the upcoming Saints Row 4 expansion). I don’t mind paying for the full price then, because I’d like to play it alongside my friends. The good times we have are worth the price for me. But any other game I’m playing alone, I wait for the sale.


Uglyfish wrote on 18th December 2014 at 8:57 AM

This is such a good post! I’m drawn in by pre-order bonuses and end up forking out so much money on release day. I bought Shadows of Mordor on release day (for 360, so on the same day as Dragon Age) and still haven’t even opened it (because of Dragon Age!) I could have paid £15 less and got it this week! I try not to buy games online, because I like the staff in my local game shop, but you’re quite right, in that you can’t deny the fantastic discounts online! I also got my WiiU in a bundle, and when I finally get a PS4 that will also be in a bundle.
I love my Club Nintendo points =] I wish they did more physical merchandise, but seeing as they don’t, I love splashing out every now and then and getting my points swapped to epoints and buying a new game!
I’m bookmarking this post, and I’ll read it before I got into Game just to keep myself level headed!


Sue wrote on 24th December 2014 at 10:14 AM

That’s awesome you’re so resourceful with spending money on games. It got me thinking about my hobbies and how much I spend on them. I’m not a gamer, so I can’t exactly relate to spending money on games, but I do enjoy crafty projects like making amigurumi, painting, and making webpages. That said, it’s not that costly, which I like. I spend roughly $140 a year on web stuff like hosting and domains. Though I am thinking of switching to something cheaper. Painting in Photoshop is the least costly, as I just made a one time payment of about $250 for the creative suite. I’m not sure how much I spend on amigurumi supplies, but it’s not much.


nyuu wrote on 3rd January 2015 at 8:59 PM

My brothers always buy consoles/games upon release days! Obviously, I’m not complaining lol :3 The other day I needed a controller to play on my laptop, and I walked into the living room and found a brand spanking new controller (sony dualshock 4), still in its box. Sometimes I think my brothers turned the living room into gamestop.


Susanne wrote on 4th January 2015 at 2:31 AM

Yes, isn’t that weird. I mean that it’s socially acceptable to spend tons on drinks but not on real hobbies. Some people would think I’m weird for what I’ve spent on blog themes and fonts. But although now I’ve developed my own theme, I’ve learned tons from the ones I bought. And I love my fonts. 🙂
Nothing compared to what I’ve spent on my passion for music though.


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