1. Buy used
The most obvious way to save on video games is to buy them used. Buying used can save over 50 percent over the price of a new game. Gamestop and EBGames may be the first places you think of when you want to buy a used game. But their prices on used games (especially newer-release used games) are typically only $5–10 off the price of the brand-new version. Instead, try Redbox, GameFly and Glyde first. Since these are lesser-known companies, their selection and prices are usually better—a used game through places like these is around 50 percent off the price of a new game.
Renting is a great option if you want to try the game before you buy it, or if the game can be “finished” (a game that doesn’t have much replay value after completion). Games can be rented from Redbox for $2 a day, though that can get pricey if you want the game for longer than a weekend. There are also Netflix-like game-rental services: GameFly and Gamerang offer plans starting as low as $15.95 a month ($6.95 a month if you can find an online coupon). Depending on your gaming habits, this could be a great bargain—for example, the $15.95 a month plan costs $191.40 per year, which is roughly the price of four brand-new games. Even if you only get a new game every other month (six games a year), you still saved yourself the price of two games—about $90. Imagine the savings if you rent 12 or more games a year!
Good news, KCLs…with a bit of searching, you can find coupons for video games! Usually these are store coupons that you may receive by signing up for emails from stores like Gamestop, as well as coupon codes from sites like RetailMeNot for discounts at GameFly or Redbox. A typical store coupon is 10–20 percent off any game, $50 off a bundled package, and sometimes "Buy 2 Games Get 1 Free." Coupon codes are sometimes available for longer free trials or a percentage off a download at a site like GameFly. Sometimes coupons are offered for specific game titles, but these are less common.
4. Trade in old games
Best Buy and Amazon both offer programs where you can trade in your old games to earn gift cards. I recommend comparing how much they offer for your games before committing. GameStop offers a trade-in program, too, and if you can wait to stack your trade-in with a coupon, you can save big. For example, I traded in my used Mario Bros. game, got the $15 trade-in value, and used my 16-percent-off coupon to buy a new-to-me Madden NFL 13. I ended up paying $8.50 for a game that costs $29.99 new—that’s over 70 percent off!
5. Borrow from the library
Many public libraries offer games and even gaming systems to their members to borrow for free. Check with your local library to see what they offer. If they don't currently have this service, there might be a branch within your library network that does. Sometimes if enough people call to request free game rentals, the library will consider offering the service.
6. Bargain bins
This one is a little harder because it requires patience. If you can wait, stores like Best Buy, Walmart, GameStop and even Blockbuster Video (if there's still one in your area) offer tremendous savings on games a few weeks to a few months after the game initially comes out. There is a Hollywood Video store near me that recently had Just Dance 4 on sale for $29.99 (its usual price is $49.99). That's a $20 savings just for waiting a few months, and it’s still a brand-new game!
Steam is a website that offers an amazing selection of video games—everything from simulation and sports games to photo-editing and indie games. Some games are free, while others are offered at a very low price. The games can be downloaded to your PC or TV. The only drawback here is that your family may have to be less particular about the title of the game and more interested in the style. Will they be happy playing a first-person science fiction game, or does it have to be HALO? If playing the style of game they love is enough, Steam is a great bargain.
8. Game trading
Two great game-trading sites are Goozex and GameTrade. On Goozex, you sign up for free, make a list of the games you want to trade, and they find a match for you to trade with. You mail your game to its new owner (Goozex pays shipping) and earn points that you can then spend (along with a 99-cent trade fee) to acquire a game from someone else. GameTrade is a bit more personal—they match you with members in your area who want to make an exchange, and you can negotiate with your match before meeting to make the trade. Join both and double your chances of getting free games!