Being a gamer is great. You don’t have the physical strain of athletics, except for when you are pausing for 15 minutes every hour to stretch and get a refill of your favorite carbonated beverage. If you don’t like human interaction, as in board games, video gaming gives you the opportunity to do something by yourself. It’s also good as an escape. Really, there isn’t much of a downfall to being a gamer, save for one: the cost.
While console gaming isn’t quite as expensive as building your own super-computing rig, it can still be pricey. If you are like me and you own every major console and handheld (minus the PC rig for me), it’s even more expensive. The sheer amount of games available when you are in this situation can be staggering. And the talent behind these games has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, so many games turn out to be worth playing. So how does one decide how to spend their hard-earned cash? Luckily, there are a few good options out there.
Buying every game that comes out is not a great idea. You risk getting stuck with some crap games, and who really has that kind of disposable income? But, if you are one who likes to have a collection or just likes to own things, you would be well served to research before you buy. Of course, everything you read will be an opinion. The difficult part is finding a source that is trustworthy enough. Sites like Vagary.tv, are a good place to go. Before working for the site, I noticed many other reviewers would skew their reviews depending on who their parent company is, who their company is in bed with, or even who gives them the most advertising. When I started with Vagary, I read a few of the reviews and enjoyed the honesty the reviewers showcased (end shameless promotion). The problem with this approach is you might miss out on a sleeper hit because you have to trust the opinion of someone else who may not have the same tastes as you.
What most people resort to, and I am not proud to admit that I’m guilty of this as well, is buying games and then selling them back to stores like GameStop, Best Buy, and Disc Replay for a reduced trade-in amount. As great as it may seem to be able to get something for a game, even if it’s just $10, I learned the hard way that this is not a financially sound idea. Here’s an example:
Let’s say you buy Street Fighter X Tekken this Tuesday for $60. After playing the game for a week, you figure out you don’t want it any more. So you go to GameStop and trade the game in. You get $25-$30 back and put it toward Mass Effect 3. So you’ve paid $90 for two games.
While, this may seem like a good idea at the time, it turns out to hurt in the end. Maybe you keep Street Fighter X Tekken for a few months and sell it back for $15 because the value of the game dropped. Then you’re out even more money. Then, maybe a month later, you decide you didn’t want to sell the game back and you buy it again, and trust me when I say this happens. So now you’ve spent 1.5x-2x more on the same game. And the more you buy and sell back, the more money you end up spending. The only real winner is the store buying the game back for less than half its worth and turning around and selling it used for $5 cheaper.
So, if you’re like me and you figure out the vicious cycle you were trapped in, with the help of the woman who would one day be your wife, you start to research other options. Gamefly makes a good deal of sense. The service is completely by mail. The costs are tiered depending on the number of games you want to rent at one time. I started out with the 2 games for $23 a month option. The savings from the previous option are almost immediately noticeable. One nice thing I liked about Gamefly was the option to keep a game if you liked it, and for a discounted price. Sometimes, you could even “cheat the system” and get new release for $15 cheaper.
For example, if you wanted to get a new copy of Mass Effect 3, make sure you return one game (if you are on the two or more option) and Gamefly receives it before ME3 comes out. Fix your queue so that the only available option would be ME3 when it is released and place it at the top, giving it priority. When the game is released, Gamefly will send it to you. Now it’s considered used and they discount the price. Once you receive it, select the Keep it option and a new copy of ME3 is yours for a discounted price.
Now, there are issues with Gamefly. If you live close to a distribution center, of which there are too few, you can get your games in a reasonable amount of time. If you live farther away, like in Illinois, it could take a week or more to get your game. Keep in mind, you’ll still be paying for this time. So, if you get a game on a Monday and decide you don’t like it and send it back Tuesday, it may take until Friday or Saturday for Gamefly to receive the game. They may send another game out, depending on the availability, the same day. It could not get to you until the next Friday. That’s nearly two weeks without a game that you’re paying for.
Also, Gamefly is completely at the mercy of the U.S. Postal Service and their times and dates of operation as well as the speediness of their delivery. If you can only afford the 1 game option, Gamefly may not be the best choice to get your games. If you can manage the 2 games or more, at least you can have a backup when one game goes back. Gamefly is a decent service with some pretty good deals and promotions.
Another option is relatively new to the video game scene: Redbox. Games are $2 per night, which is a good deal if you want to play a lot of games. It would not be a good idea if you wanted to rent a game the size of Skyrim. With bigger games, $2 a night can quickly grow to $14 for the week. At this point, you’ve paid for a decent portion of the game and a purchase would have been better. Redboxes are popping up everywhere and are easy to find, especially with the help of the internet. However, not all Redboxes carry the same inventory of games and the selection is not as great as Gamefly’s.
Finally, there’s Blockbuster Video. Unfortunately, Blockbuster took a giant kick to the groin when Netflix and Redbox started to gain popularity. The rental giant was slow to compete. They didn’t really update their pricing structure until more recently. Because of their slow movement, the company had to close a lot of their stores. But, if you’re lucky enough to have one near you, they have a Total Access package which I personally have found to be awesome. For $15 a month, you get unlimited rentals of everything in the store. This includes DVDs, Blu-Rays, AND games. Blockbuster stays pretty up-to-date with their game selection.
If you decide you don’t like a game, you can just pop back in to the store the same day and exchange it. This can be done as much as you like. Blockbuster also does movies and games by mail, but if you have a store near you, this is a better option. Unfortunately, their selection doesn’t really allow for older games, and with no due date, you are at the mercy of other renters.
This is all from personal experience. What I have found to work the best for me is buying certain games that I think I’ll play for a while and renting ones I’m not sure are worth a purchase from Blockbuster. Of course, my financial and residential situation is going to be completely different from yours. Hopefully, these explanations can help you find out the best way to feed your gaming needs and still come out with some money in your bank account.
Just In Bailey –an homage to the secret code from Metriod, which allowed you to play as Samus Aran without her suit– is an editorial column at Vagary.TV brought to you by Joey Alesia. Each week Joey will challenge you to look at a different perspective of the characters, gameplay, and/or plot in your favorite games. Chat up your thoughts below, or send Joey an e-mail at Joey.Alesia@vagary.tv and remember to follow him on Twitter @wrkngclsswrtr.