Quick Beginner’s Guide to Game Deals

Is your backlog filled to the brim yet? If not, this handy guide will help make sure you will always have quality games to play on hand. While some methods may require a little bit of luck, there are also some tried and true ways to make sure you are getting the best deal possible on certain games.

Where to Start

The best service to begin with is http://isthereanydeal.com/.  This site allows you to track what PC games you are interested in, and then sends email notifications anytime they go on sale.  This does not simply include Steam sales – it includes sales from all major and minor online PC game retailers such as GamerGate, GreenManGaming, and GOG.  Furthermore, it allows you to import a Steam wishlist if you are already wed to that system.  Best of all, it even provides voucher codes for additional discounts with each sale, and shows you the historic low price for the game.  All in all, this is the best all around service for tracking PC game deals.

Next Step: Basic Big Deals

So you’ve signed up on isthereanydeal but want to get the collection up to speed quickly.  The best two methods are the Humble Bundle and the seasonal Steam sales.

Humble Bundle

#1 Humble Bundle

Humble Bundle provides a pay-what-you-want system for a collection of games.  This typically includes the lowest tier (pay at least $0.01), a beat-the-average tier (typically hovering at about $6-$7), and the top tier which is usually a minimum amount ($10-$15).  One caveat is that you must pay a minimum of $1 to get Steam keys.  Either way, you typically get DRM-free versions of the games.  Normally, the Bundles focus on smaller indie-styled games, but exceptions have been made and the included games now include everything from AAA to single developer side project.

The bundles come in several varieties: the normal humble bundle, a weekly bundle, books bundles, and the humble store.  This gives you a good chance of finding something worthwhile nearly every week.  The strength of the bundles varies, but can really pack a punch.  One example is the Humble Origin Bundle which included the Deadspace 1 and 3, Mirror’s Edge, Crysis 2, Red Alert 3, and Burnout Paradise.  Not bad for $1.  The Humble WB Bundle had Batman Arkham Asylum and City, along with LOTR: War in the North.

The trick is stay up to date on the bundles week-to-week.  Throwing a buck at the weekly deal will get you a small cache of Steam keys that can quickly build a collection and also let you explore some lesser known games with little financial risk.  If you want to get your big AAA current releases on discount you should turn to….

Steam Logo

#2 Seasonal Steam Sales

So you’ve got a solid collection of smaller indie games and older AAA games but you want to get GTAV and Cities: Skylines at a discount.  That’s where Steam comes in.  While the strength of the proverbial Steam sale has waned in recent years, it is still the best way to get current games at a reduced price.  The Summer and Winter sales (normally December and June/July) are the strongest sales, but sometimes Steam will have a Spring or Fall mini-sale.

Steam sales discount nearly everything in the inventory by at least 10% and some titles go for up to 90% off.  I got Witcher 2 for $2.50.  While slightly older games get more generous discounts, the Flash and Voter’s Choice Sales give a temporary (normally 24 hours) drop that rewards people paying attention.

Steam normally has Midweek and Publisher sales every week or so, giving you a chance to get certain titles outside of the major seasonal sales.  Between Steam and Humble Bundle you should have your PC game collection in proper order.  But what about your physical copies and console games?

Building Up Console Collection

You watch Humble Bundle, monitor Steam, and have alerts for smaller websites.  But you have a Playstation/Xbox sitting around collecting dust.  What do you do?

Snoo Reddit

The best way to find console game sales is to use the almighty Reddit Game Deals to find up-to-minute deals at retailers and online outlets.  r/Gamedeals lists the current ongoing deals at places like Best Buy, Walmart, Target, as well as online places such as Amazon.  It also lists deals in other countries, so is not entirely US-centric.  Best of all, it tags the deals that are over/expired and the crowdsourcing of the comments gives directions on how to get the harder deals, or even the best places to price match (ie. Kmart and Sears recent liquidation sales that could price match at Walmart).  Checking this subreddit everyday will get you cheap console and PC games and also let you know the strength of the deal in the comments.

Other Methods

The above strategies will get you pretty far.  But sometimes the thrill of the hunt is the best part of finding the deal.  A little work on your part can reap the best of deals.  While these methods will result in the best deals, they are also likely to turn up fruitless on most occasions.

Goodwill Logo

#1 Goodwill

Goodwill has hands down the cheapest prices  However, most days they only have junk such as Madden 2004 for PS2.  With Goodwill, persistence is key.  Visiting every week (they get weekly shipments of new stuff) is the most efficient method.  Some Goodwills have gotten smart as to the value of some of their stuff and will have auction sections for better games or consoles.  My personal best finds include a working Gamecube for $5, Zelda for NES for $2, and a Sega Genesis with about 15 games for $6 (which also had Crash Bandicoot for Playstation in the box).  The real fun is the search for the perfect deal, since they are infrequent.  Most of the stuff will be older, but last-gen stuff is now beginning to trickle in.

Half Price Books Logo

#2 Half-Price Books

If you live in a state with a Half Price Books, then you are lucky.  Half Price Books normally boasts a solid collection and has extremely reasonable prices.  While it typically has slightly older stuff, they generally will have a good deal everytime you visit.  They have games for all systems (as well as consoles themselves) as well as physical new copies of nearly all solid PC games from the past 10 years.  Their restock and collection is normally dependent on people trading in their collections so there is variance from location to location.  My favorite part is the plethora of old strategy guides they keep in stock.  You can also trade in for credit here.

Methods to Avoid

Given all the solid methods of collecting, there are some strategies you should avoid to protect your wallet and your efficiency.

Mario Game Over

Don’t Trade In at Gamestop

While certain games may give a decent trade-in value, in general Gamestop will only give you pennies for your games.  This only results in store credit.  While Gamestop has a good used section, most of the titles can be found cheaper elsewhere using the methods above.  This is not the worst thing to do to build a collection, but should be used as a last resort.

Don’t Expect Deals at Resale/Specialty Game Shops

We have a couple of video game specialty stores around my area.  While I enjoy having such shops, the prices they charge for some of the older titles is just not fair.  Paying $35 for used SNES Donkey Kong Country is just not an efficient use of money.  The benefit these stores provide is the selection, as they are likely to have harder to find older games that may be hard to find on eBay or Amazon.  Sometimes you can find a cheap deal or two at these types of locations, but in general, its better to search out online before resorting to the gouging that can occur.

Conclusion

Fallout Thumbs Up

In sum, this guide should get you up and running on the basics of finding quality game deals.  I have utilized this strategy for a couple years now and now suffer from an enormous backlog (a good problem to have).  It also helps when you just want something fresh to play, but don’t want to drop $60 on a new game.  Let me know what deals you have found, or what methods you use in comments below.

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16 thoughts on “Quick Beginner’s Guide to Game Deals

  1. Pingback: The Steam Winter Sale 2015: What Changed? | Discount Holidays

  2. Pingback: The Steam Winter Sale 2015: What Changed? | Particlebit

  3. Great guide I’ll have to check out the reddit deals page. I currently get the ign deals newsletter(it’s great and IMO the only decent thing to come out of ign these days) but more deals can’t hurt. GameStop can suck it! The only thing they are good for is exploiting their used games policy; you can return a used game up to 7 days after purchase and get a full refund!

    For selling games I just use game flip. It works great and is very straightforward. Good deals on there too. Another great post dude, I’m loving your blog! Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the comments and the praise! I’m still getting used to using WordPress and might make some style changes to the blog this weekend. Will definitely be keeping an eye on your posts as well! And the Reddit deal page has been really helpful for me, it typically directs me to other outlets to find game deals. Have not heard of game flip but will now go check it out.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re welcome dude. Game flip is only available on the iPhone, but it’s a great app. It might be on android as well, hopefully they make an ipad version someday.

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  4. Goodwill is terrible for console games in general. as you said if they have anything its usually sports titles noone wants. Every rare once in awhile you can come across a working console there on the cheap. I once lucked out and grabbed a NES, accessories and a few games as they were being put out on the shelf. the NES was only $12. For old biug box PC games though Goodwill is a treasure trove. I’ve collected all kinds of old DOS and Win 9x PC games complete in the box over the years usually for under $3. Now Half priced books I haven’t had great luck with console games but I used to be a great place for old PC games. possibly better then Goodwill. I say “used to” because in my area (Phoenix) I’ve noticed in the last few months a drastic downsizeing of the PC section. I don’t even think they are accepting old big box PC games anymore. Can anyone else confirm this is happening in their area?

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  5. Half Priced Books for the win! I lived in Seattle for a few years and that was my sanctuary. I brought home so many awesome strat guides – like every Zelda, Street Fighter, Final Fantasy hardcovers that would cost a fortune anywhere else…I even found the Sonic 2 guide I had as a child. I remember them having a pretty good used Xbox 360 section as well, and old GamePro mags and Nintendo Power. Damn I need to make a trip up there soon, I miss that place. We have Powell’s books in Portland Oregon, which is a cool place at first…it’s huge, and they carry EVERYTHING. But it’s all priced up for tourists and they’re the number one reason HPB decided not to open stores in Oregon 😦 We have a place called cd game exchange, and they have an amazing selection depending on the location, and they are super well stocked. They pay handsomely for used games and systems as well

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    • Yea I have a bit of a soft side for strategy guides, even when I don’t really use them. Ive tried to collect every Final Fantasy guide and have 5-13 plus Tactics so far. I also found an Ocarina of Time guide that was fun to look through, especially the ads from the 90s

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve got a few Twilight Princess guides if you need one! I can even send it to ya if you want – I’m actually trying to thin out my collection. I am keeping my FF guides, and my Street Fighter guides (although the Ultra SFIV guide was outdated by the time it came out haha), and that’s about it I think. And of course the Hyrule Historia, which doesn’t really count I guess lol, but it looks nice on my shelf 🙂

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  6. I hate to say it, but I agree with the specialty shops sentiment. It would be great to support small businesses against GameStop, but in all the cities I’ve lived in, I’ve only found one that was worthwhile. If you think $35 is too much to pay for SNES DKC, you should see the shop near me that has it and most other SNES games going for near ~$200.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Dang…I bought it for 25 the other day and found that a little steep. I got the grey NES LOZ cartridge for 12 bucks, and the gold one for 5…I also picked up a zapper thingy and Duck Hunt for my fiancee only to figure out it didn’t work on our tv lol. Got it on eShop eventually, same dif, kinda like the wiimote for that game actually.

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  7. Not to mention that GameStop invariably has worse deals than online retailers, Steam, or GOG. With their dubious PR that has only gotten worse with time and backwards-looking business philosophies, it’s something of a miracle that they’re still in business. There will probably be one day where games will no longer be sold on a physical format at all. Considering the ever-worsening relationship between developers and retailers, it’s mostly a question of when it will happen, not if.

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    • Agreed. The only time I really ever go to GameStop nowadays is for vita games because 1) they actually have them and 2) the price for vita memory cards is so high I need physical stuff! I would love more digital but space is such a premium on the vita

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