Video gaming is a habit very near and dear to many people's hearts. It's a fun pastime that can be indulged in by yourself or with a group of friends -- but unfortunately, it can add up very quickly. Between the consoles, the games, and the accessories that many titles require, you can end up spending thousands of dollars per year, depending on how much you game. If you're needing to cut back in your budget but don't want to give up gaming, here are some ideas to help you accomplish both tasks.
Turn to PC gaming. Yes, many gamers will scoff at this idea, because consoles offer vastly superior gameplay and graphics quality. However, many games come out for PCs as well as other gaming systems, and they are significantly cheaper to purchase. There are many discount PC game sites online, like Steam and Direct2Drive, where you can buy the full versions of games that are normally $30 or more in-store for a significant discount; many games are $15 or even less. Some games don't even suffer in PC version, so look carefully into this option.
Find friends to split games with. That way, you can each buy one game but still benefit from playing two, effectively rendering the games half-priced. This works best on single-player games, since multiplayer games require the disc if more than one of you is going to be playing at once (meaning you can't play each other!). You can build an entire library split between two or more people this way, and just trade games around so everyone is satisfied.
Obtain free games when you can. There are tons of independent game developers out there who just want to get the word out, and are willing to give their games away for next to nothing for publicity. You can also sign up to be a game tester for independent companies; they'll usually give you a free copy (or two!) once the process is over. If you're lucky, you could always game-test for a big-name company, too!
Rent games that you can play quickly. If you've heard that a game only takes ten solid hours, you can probably finish it in the rental period that a video store offers. Since a game rental only costs $4-5 as opposed to the $30-50 it costs to buy the game for yourself, you can save a ton by playing fast games through on someone else's disc.
Buy games secondhand, when you can. eBay, Amazon.com, thrift stores, and garage sales are all excellent places to buy used video games. So long as the disc or cartridge is undamaged, you should be able to get as much enjoyment out of a game someone else already used and loved as one that you pull out of the original packaging.
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