As someone who is constantly buying games, a lifestyle that is quite costly, I've taken multiple measures to make sure I'm saving money when I can. Being primarily a console gamer, we can't rely on stellar Steam sales, Humble Bundles (or can we?), or other less savory methods for our gaming needs. In my travels, I've come across two main methods of buying physical games that beat out the rest.
I've also gathered some resources that keep you up-to-date on the latest sales that I would like to share with you to help you save, as well. To warn all readers, I am not endorsed by any of the companies I will be discussing in this article. I'm providing my personal opinion formed though experience of buying games over the last few years to help provide you with new insight. This is my Console Owner's Guide to Buying Games, 2016 Edition.
1. Best Buy: Gamers Club
- Membership Price: $30 for two years
20% Off New Games
With a Best Buy Gamers Club membership, you receive 20% off all new games. This doesn't just mean "new release" but all games that aren't "used". So you could buy a new copy of a game that released a year ago and still receive the discount. In all my experience buying physical games, this is the best deal I've seen to date. At 20% off, every new release drops down to $47.99 without tax (a total of $52.12 with sales tax here in Arizona). This discount also applies to all Toys-to-Life products. At a $30 entry price, the membership will pay for itself by your 3rd newly released game purchase.
10% Off Used Games & 10% Increased Trade-In Value
I, personally, do not buy or trade-in used games (I sell unwanted games on eBay), but this added benefit may be of interest to some. Here's a link to look up trade-in prices, but from what I can see it's pretty standard, low trade-in values that might be worth if you're not willing to go through the trouble of eBay.
2x Reward Points
Best Buy offers "reward" points on all purchases as a member that can be used to unlock gift certificates. The way Best Buy calculates its reward points is based off the initial price you pay for something (without tax and shipping), rounded down to the whole number, and then converted into 1 point per $1. For example, a new release would have the initial price $47.99 after the 20% discount, which would round down to 47 points, and finally be doubled due to the Gamers Club membership to a total of 94 points earned from the transaction.
There are three reward certificates that points can be exchanged for: $5 (250 points), $10 (500 points), and $20 (1000 points). Essentially, every three new releases you buy earns you a $5 off certificate. While it's small compared to how much money you're spending, as someone who frequently buys games (15+ physical games a year) it's a nice added bonus of savings on something I'm already going to buy.
An added benefit of Gamers Club, if you live near a Best Buy, is the ability to walk into the store and pick up games quickly, versus having them shipped to you. You can also pre-pay for your items online and pick them up in-store instead of shipping to you. The downside to shipping is Best Buy only offers free standard shipping (4-5 days) on orders over $35.
If you are someone who likes to pre-order games (I only pre-order "Limited Editions" of games I know I want that will have limited quantities), Best Buy offers a slightly different pre-order system. Upon pre-ordering, Best Buy places a hold for the amount on your debit/credit cards for a few days before removing the hold and charging you the full amount upon the item's release.
If you pay with PayPal, PayPal will place a hold on the funds for the full duration of the pre-order, but if you cancel the order you will receive the funds back immediately. I have experience with both methods. Best Buy offer's in-store pickup or release day shipping for pre-orders. When I opted for shipping for Metal Gear Solid V, I received the item on release day at around noon.
Warning: If you purchase Toys-to-Life items and like to keep them in their original package, Best Buy will put a massive sticker on the front of the box if you choose to pay online prior, which may ruin the packaging.
Best Buy is usually pretty good about putting new, popular releases on sale regularly, especially around holidays. If you're patient enough to wait a month or two after release, you will often find games like Call of Duty, Assassin's Creed, etc. going on sale for $39.99. While this is not a definite, I've found it often enough to be true, but do not let it affect your overall decision as you will never know if the game you want will go on sale in a reasonable time period.
If a game does go on sale, the addition 20% off benefit still applies to the purchase. A little over a month after its release, the new Doom went on sale for $39.99 and with the Gamers Club discount and a $5 gift certificate earned through points, I was able to pick up the game for $29.31.
Between the 20% discount, reward points, and quick in-store pickup, Best Buy is arguably the best option for buying physical console games. Even if you don't have a Best Buy near you, you can get new releases with release day shipping and still utilize all the other benefits. I highly recommend Best Buy Gamers Club to all who buy multiple games per year.
2. Amazon Prime
- Membership Price: $100 a year ($50 a year for students)
20% Off New Games (Pre-orders and Up to Two Weeks after release)
Similar to Best Buy, Amazon offers a 20% off discount on newly released games. The only difference is the discount is only available for up to 14 days after the initial release. The 20% also only applies to games fulfilled by Amazon so you will not be able to find other sellers selling at cheaper prices and still take an additional 20% off the price.
Where Amazon shines over Best Buy, for me, is on "Limited Edition" and/or limited quantity products. When "Limited Editions" become available, they usually go up on Amazon fairly quickly, while Best Buy takes a day or two before allowing pre-orders and only if the game is popular enough for them to sell. If you are someone like me who values rarer "Limited Editions" or more niche games, Amazon is more likely to aid you.
Trusted Amazon 2-Day/Release Day Shipping
With Amazon Prime, you receive 2-day free shipping on all products with quality unmatched by any other retailer. On top of that, if you pre-order game you will receive them upon their release date (usually around noon from my experience). Amazon proves, yet again, that you don't even need to leave your home to get the goods you want.
With its new discount, Amazon Prime is easily one of the top methods for buying video games. It's one of two retailers offering the 20% off and with its reliable shipping there's no reason to go to other retailers that charge games at full price. Amazon Prime is a simple yet great alternative to Best Buy and if you're an online shopper, like most of us, these days you might already have a membership, so make sure to utilize it to its fullest.
3. Digital Games
While Xbox Live and Nintendo have their occasional good sales (that you should keep an eye out for if you are big on those platforms), I've found PSN to offer incredible, noteworthy deals on a more regular basis. Not long ago, PSN concluded a massive E3 sale where I picked up two Vita games, each 60% off, and then started a multiple week "Mid-Year" sale. If you own a PS4, PS3, or especially a PS Vita, these sales can net you some awesome games at low prices. With PS Plus, you will also get an additional 10% discount on the majority of sale items. Below are some PlayStation-specific resources I use.
r/PS4deals: A subreddit created specifically for retail and digital sales for PS4 games.
http://www.playstationlifestyle.net/: A PlayStation-focused website that offers comprehensive lists and notifications everytime a PSN sale occurs.
PS Plus & Games with Gold
If you play online games on either the PS4 and/or Xbox One then you already have some of these memberships. PS Plus and Games with Gold offer monthly free digital games to subscribers for as long as their membership remains.
PS Plus offers two PS4, two PS3, and two PS Vita titles each month. Unfortunately, we've seen a decline in the PS3 and PS Vita lineups over the past months as the number of "quality" games left to offer dwindles. The PS4 line-up can only get brighter, however, as enough time has passed that they can begin to offer us more than Indie games and start dishing out AAA titles (hopefully).
Games with Gold offers subscribers two Xbox One and two Xbox 360 titles each month. The Xbox One titles have gotten better as of late after the disappointing subscribers with some of the same games multiple months in a row. An added benefit of Games with Gold moving forward is that all Xbox 360 games offered with be backwards compatible with your Xbox One. They've been slowly offering amazing Xbox 360 games to play and have given out a number of AAA Xbox One games in the past.
If you already have a membership, you should be utilizing it and accepting these free games. While not all the games are worth playing, there's no penalty in downloading something that already comes without membership. This includes picking up PS3 and PS Vita for your catalog even if you only own a PS4 at the moment on the off chance you decided to pick up one of those systems later ("cough" PS Vita "cough").
r/GameDeals: A subreddit created for users to post information and links on all deals related to gaming.
Wario64's Twitter: A reliable Twitter user that constantly posts game deals and pre-orders as they appear.
This concludes my Console Owner's Guide to Buying Games, 2016 Edition. Any feedback you have on what I can do to improve my guide would be greatly appreciated. Also, feel free to comment any other resources you have for finding game deals that you would like to share with us all. Thanks for reading and until next time, happy hunting.
Devin Martinez is not endorsed by any of the retailer, websites, or individuals included in this post. If you enjoyed this article, you can find more like it on my personal gaming and anime blog, where this content originated. For more random gaming nonsense and news, keep checking back with Devin73. Thanks for reading.