26th February 2024 10:41 am
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Spend less, get more – budget gaming in SA

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Gaming as a hobby can be quite expensive. Console gamers have it fairly good in terms of up-front costs, but the cost of games for their systems tend to be more expensive than for PC. PC gamers can buy cheap games, but their hardware costs are much higher due to the option (and sometimes, need) to upgrade their rigs with better processors, graphics cards and hard drives. However you look at it, being a gamer requires that you spend money.

That said, if you know where to look, you can actually end up with a lot of games without spending heaps of cash. This article will show you where to go to find the best gaming bargains online, and IRL.

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Humble Bundle

Humble Weekly Sale

Pay what you want for the games that are featured in a new Humble Bundle every week, and choose who gets your cash – the developer, a charity, the guys behind the Humble Bundle initiative, or a combination of the three. There are Indie games and regular mainstream games to choose from, and you can pay as little as $1 for them. If you pay a little more – $6 is the minimum – you can get even more games as well as their soundtracks.

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BTGames Preplayed

The second-hand market

You probably know this already, but it bears repeating: buying second-hand games is a great way to save money. BT Games and Zaps Online buy and sell second-hand Xbox 360 and PS3 games, and you can pick up tons of titles for much less than their brand-new cost. You can even get relatively new games, discounted by a couple hundred bucks if your timing is good.

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Steam and GOG.com bi-annual sales

Steam, Valve’s online software distribution platform, has mega-sales twice a year: one in the Northern Hemisphere’s summer (our July) and the other just before Christmas. Their vast majority of games in their 3000-title catalogue are discounted during that time, with new sales appearing every 8 hours or so with even bigger discounts. GOG.com, dedicated to Good Old Games, does something similar with its catalogue of older titles. These sales are the reason so many PC gamers face a daunting backlog of awesome games to play.

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Steam Weekend Deals

Mid-week and Weekend Deals

Both GOG and Steam run specials throughout the week. Steam does a Mid-Week Madness sale that lasts from Tuesday 7pm to Thursday 7pm, and a Weekend Deal that lasts from 7pm on Thursday to 7pm on Monday. Sometimes, they do spotlights on specific publishers, like the one they are running this weekend on Capcom that promises big discounts on all Capcom games all weekend long, with specific deals featuring bigger discounts on some of those games appearing every 24 hours.

GOG runs promotions during the week, highlighting under-appreciated gems, and a weekend-long promotion every weekend that spotlights games by genre, type, publisher or some other date-appropriate theme. By keeping an eye on these two services, gamers can pick up games they might have missed out on for a song.

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BTGames Preplayed

BTGames newsletter

Every week local gaming retailer BTGames sends out a newsletter highlighting any specials that might be running in their stores over the weekend. It’s an opt-in service, so if you’re keen head over to their site and sign up to be kept abreast of the discounts via email.

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Green Man Gaming

While GMG’s website is a bit of an unpolished mess, you can pick up anything from specials to regular 25% discounts on a whole ton of games there. Their library is huge, too, and you’ll often find obscure games that you might have missed in Steam’s listings. Most of the games bought through GMG give you Steam codes that let you activate and download them through that service for an extra layer of convenience.

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Sales Specials Xbox

Xbox Live Sales

Microsoft often puts games on sale via the Xbox Live Marketplace, which you can browse using the console’s Dashboard. Take a few minutes to poke around rather than just launching into your game right away, and you will discover some pretty decent titles at generous discounts.

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PlayStation Plus Membership

Joining Sony’s PlayStation Plus programme is probably the best way for South African PS3 gamers to get cheap games. Sure, it will cost you R40.75 a month to subscribe, but with that subscription comes a huge selection of free full games that is updated every month with new releases, plus the ability to try newly-released games before you buy. That’s just R489 a year for a whole lot of value, less than the cost of a single full-price PS3 title.

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