How to Budget for Your Video Game Habit

Great -- your local store just got that game you've been waiting to play. Good thing you put some money aside to buy it.
Great -- your local store just got that game you've been waiting to play. Good thing you put some money aside to buy it.

Video gaming is big business. It's estimated that it cost $40 to $100 million USD to make hits such as Halo 3, Grand Theft Auto IV and Modern Warfare 2. And if you think that's a lot of money, consider that fans of Modern Warfare forked over approximately half a billion dollars in the first week of the sequel's release [source: Horvath]. The industry isn't just about fun and games; it's about fun, games and loads of money.

Unfortunately, loads of money is probably not something you have. So, how can you navigate the gaming world when you're not operating on a blockbuster salary? It's a tricky situation, but with a few insights and some strategic vision -- something that as a gamer you should have loads of, by now -- you can do it.

Making assumptions and strolling blindly into the unknown will get you killed in just about any video game. Think of your budget in the same way. If you don't want your wallet to take a direct hit, implement the following keys to success:

  • Patience -- A new car depreciates the second you drive it off the lot, right? Likewise, a blockbuster video game will quickly drop in value after its release. You just have to be patient. While you're exhibiting that patience, you'll have a chance to read user reviews and find out if the game really does match the hype.
  • Consider the Source -- This applies not only to who you buy from but also to what you buy. Some brick-and-mortar stores will charge you significantly more for your games than you'll pay an online retailer. As for the game makers, experiment with an independent. You may discover that the lesser-known developers offer an equally satisfying product. If so, you'll be saving money and discovering a new source of entertainment [source: Pinola].
  • Staying Power -- Notice how your favorite games are still favorites months or even years later? The "replay ability" of a game is something a frugal player should keep in mind. In addition, think about how long it will take you to solve or master the particular title. Balance length with price. Buying a seemingly pricey game could be the best budgetary decision -- that is, if you end up playing it for a good long time.

Then again, buying a video game may not be the smartest choice. There are many options available for gamers who prefer to rent.