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The cheapest way to game: Gamefly most cost-effective

Gamestop, Blockbuster and other rental sources serve as inexpensive options

By Thomas Kaufman
On April 17, 2013

 

In today's economy, playing the latest video games may be hard, especially on a college
student's budget.
 
Whenever a hot game like Call of Duty or Assassins Creed comes out, we rush to the nearest
electronics store and pay $60 plus tax to own them. It almost feels as if purchasing new
games is the only way to play the titles we love nowadays.
 
Don't let businesses like Best Buy kill your mojo with their overbearing prices on new
games, because there are cheap alternatives to play the games you want.
 
The first method is to buy used games at a place like Gamestop. Whenever you go out to
the store to pick up a fairly new game, consider looking into whether or not there is a used
copy. Many people speculate about the reliability of used games, but many stores use a disc
resurfacer to smooth out any harmful scratches. Stores also provide consumers with plans
to help save even more.
 
"We offer our Gamestop Power-Up rewards card where you pay $15 and receive a 15
percent discount on all used games," said the store's senior game analyst, who only gave
her first name, Liz. "(You also get) 15 percent added trade-in value when you trade in any
game for a year."
 
She added that you even get a free one-year subscription to Gamestop's patented
GameInformer magazine. The con, however, is the $15 price tag associated with the
discount. But if you consider yourself a hardcore gamer, than you know you'll likely make
your money back within the first or second game.
 
If purchasing used is still outside of your budget, than renting might be more up your alley.
 
Stores like Family Video and Blockbuster let you rent a video game for a certain price and a
limited time frame.
 
Blockbuster offers two ways for gamers to indulge, one being your standard renting
process, which, according to the store's manager, costs on average five dollars for three
days.
 
The problem with renting is the narrow window between renting and returning. Many of
today's video games have story modes that exceed fifty hours of game play. People simply
don't have that kind of time to spend before returning a game.
 
Game companies also develop DLC (downloadable content) to add new story elements,
multiplayer maps and additional in-game achievements to unlock. You may opt to buy DLC
while you have the game, but after it's returned, your newly-purchased DLC is useless - you
need the disc in order to utilize it.
 
Finally, the number of rental stores has declined. The Blockbuster on Elmwood Ave., closest
to Buffalo State, closed earlier this month. Gamers will have to try their luck with the
Family Video on Hertel Ave.
 
Then there's Gamefly, which is essentially Netflix for video games. Just pay a monthly
service fee, and you'll receive games in the mail to play for as long as you want.
 
"You may choose between renting one or two games at a time and from there the cost
difference is 15.99 a month for one game and 22.99 a month for two games at a time," a
Gamefly representative said via phone.
 
There are also no cancellation or reactivation fees, so if you're short on cash one month,
you can cancel without fear of being penalized.
 
The final question is, which path saves the most money and delivers the most quality
gaming experience?
 
For the most cost-effective mode of gaming, renting your games does in fact save the most
money. However, time constraints might make renting unwise. $5 every three days for a
month would equate to around $50 per month, which at that point just makes more sense
to purchase the game and keep it forever.
 
How about buying used at Gamestop with their Power-Up plan? New games tend to be
available used in about a week or so after debuting in stores. If you buy a game within this
timeframe, Gamestop prices their used games at $54.99, plus tax. That said, if you use the
15 percent savings, each game will cost about $50, tax included.
 
It still seems expensive, which is why the most efficient way to play the newest games for
a desired length of time is indeed through Gamefly. Gamefly's max package, which is two
games per month at $22.99, comes out to about $25 after tax. You can keep the games as
long as you want, which means DLC doesn't become useless, and if you fall in love with
a game you can buy it at a discounted price. Shipping is also included, as your games are
shipped in prepaid shipping labels. So when you're ready for a re-up, just find your nearest
mailbox.
 
Video gaming is an expensive hobby. With console and game costs continually on the rise
due to more advanced options becoming available, Gamefly seems to be the most cost
effective and the best option for longevity.
 
Purchase the games you feel are worth it, but continue to rent everything else to save
yourself some money.
 
Tom Kaufman can be reached by email at kaufman.record@live.com.

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