How to Be a Gamer on a Low Budget

The video game industry is a billion-dollar industry - that's billions a year. Considering how things like software piracy and console modding have driven up the prices of games, that's a lot. Most games start at $60 and as the years pass, they dwindle in value, much like a brand new car. Between 10 and 20 years ago, it was not like that. Games held a bit of value for a few years. Not now, so now you're a little older, your bi-weekly income now has to go to other things, like paying bills and rent. You don't have that much cash but you've got a lot of free time on your hands. Gaming is certain to kill your boredom. You could keep sliding into your credit debt by buying new games and then trading them in, or you could switch gears and take advantage of some great opportunities.


  1. 1
    Try thrift shopping. A thrift shop can yield some amazing deals. In recent years, throngs of sixth Generation games, and consoles (and parts) end up at thrift shops. This gives you, the gamer, a chance to stockpile on controllers, parts, memory cards and the like. You could build a Playstation 2 console from the ground up for less than $50 - less than the price of a brand new game. Also, since most thrift shops don't bother to mark up anything (as they need to keep items moving to take in new donations), you might be able to pick up a really good deal on rare games that might cost a fortune in other places.
  2. 2
    Check out Craigslist. If you're just dying to get your hands on a recent release, Craigslist could yield a great deal, especially off those guys who just spent 60$ on a game, finished it in a week, and now need money to make it til their next payday. You can also haggle on Craigslist too.
    • Sometimes people have a load of games that they want to get rid of in one deal. You might find a real treasure or be reunited with an old favorite.
  3. 3
    Visit the gaming shops for their old stock. Places like EB games and Gamestop recycle their returned games, allowing you to pick up modern generation games for a fraction of the cost.
    • Some gaming shops want to get rid of their older games to the point where they price them at a dollar each.
  4. 4
    Look for online deals. Being a gold member of Xbox live now has a new benefit - free games. Xbox now offers free games for anyone with an Xbox live gold account, Giving you a chance to try games that you haven't yet. But even so, sometimes games are offered at crazy discounts (meaning that a 20$ game becomes worth about 4$.) So watch for those.
  5. 5
    Use emulators. Technically, emulation is not legal (see Warnings), but considering that emulation usually targets games that are around 20 years old, it's not something the law will spend their time coming after you for. The best way to go about it is finding out how to mod your older consoles to play classic games from the older generations, from the Atari 2600 to the Nintendo 64.
    • Emulators & ROMs are in heavy supply on the internet. You can download and play them on your computer in a heartbeat. If you have any USB controllers, you can hook them up to your computer and play.
  6. 6
    Switch from dedicated consoles to a PC. The selection of games will be far wider and many are a great deal cheaper than those sold for dedicated consoles.


  • If you want to make some money on the side, check the value of the games you buy. If you pick up a rare game, complete in box, you can turn it over online for a little profit.
  • Download walkthroughs for games you're playing. Almost every game created has fan-made walkthroughs which can help you finish games if you're stuck.
  • Watch "Let's Play" Videos on YouTube, they can provide invaluable tips on how to finish the game if you're stuck, or teach you little tricks.


  • Be careful if you plan to mod your consoles. Not every internet method can be trusted, and if you "brick" your console, you might not be able to play it again.
  • Emulation is technically illegal. Do it at your own risk.
  • Sometimes prior mishandling of older game cartridges make them unplayable. Most thrift shops know this and usually have a no-return policy, or an exchange policy.
  • Finally, don't let gaming take over all your free time. Go out and take a walk once in a while.

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Categories: Budgeting