Uncharted 4, Drake gaming on the couch with a friend as an adult gamer.

Gaming on a Budget as an Adult Gamer

The struggle to keep up with the gaming Joneses and raise a family.

When I was younger, back when my wife and I had yet to start a family, Fall new video game release days were my favorite things to look forward to.

In the early evening, I’d head to the local mall to queue with the other gamers. At the stroke of midnight, I’d throw down my hard-earned cash for the latest and greatest Call of Duty, Halo or Grand Theft Auto, then race home to get in an hour or so game time before crashing into bed, knowing I had to work the next day.

Boy, the times sure have changed.

Now, with two kids (both under the age of seven) and a wife, I don’t have the financial freedom I once had. I can’t race out and plunk down $79.99 Canadian for a game, let alone $109.99 for the shiny Collector’s Edition, with some added exclusive map, level, or other whatchamacallit they tacked on to justify an extra $30.

$130 bucks after taxes for a video game I might get to play for a few hours a week if I’m lucky?  Not happening.

“Responsibility, my friend, you suck” my inner child pipes up, as we try not to cry a bit on the inside.

A quick scan of my Xbox’s Friends List shows some are playing Brand New Game X and I’m still stuck playing older titles.  It makes me wish there was a way to block their social feed on the console to ease the pain of being the odd man out…

The gamer in me still longs to be part of the tribe, but the responsible parent and provider part of me knows there are more important things in life.  It comes down to necessity versus want.

With some time, patience, and knowing where to look, chances are I could find that game used in a few weeks without the hefty price tag, which is a lot better on the wallet and eases my guilty parental conscience.

I give myself a small budget every month to blow on whatever I choose, without guilt.  It’s normally around 25-30 bucks every pay period.  The majority of the time I go to watch a non-kid friendly movie to get out of the house, but occasionally I save it for a must-have video game.

We live in a University town (my full-time employer), so there are always students who have time on their hands and disposable income to waste.  They buy games at launch then, for one reason or another (needing beer money or money for something else – I don’t judge), suddenly want to sell them on.  Normally I’m able to talk them down from their asking price a bit, make a purchase and everyone walks away happy.

We also have a used record, CD, DVD store that buys and sells games; usually, I can find the game I want, or put it on my wish list and get an email notification of when they get a copy in stock.  Prices range from 40-55 bucks, used.

Primarily bring a console gamer, I take advantage of the regular Xbox and Playstation sales via their online stores.  Additionally, at various times throughout the year, they have a number of their most played titles on sale digitally at anywhere from 20%-30%+ off, so I keep my eyes on those as well.

Amazon and Best Buy normally have two big discount promotions on pre-orders every year.  Once in June for all of the big E3 announcements, which in my case lets me pre-order a game for $49.99 to $59.99 rather than full pop.  The other is around Black Friday or Boxing Day – a Canadian and UK thing on Dec 26th, also known as Dad’s Christmas in my house. Grown men line up at 4am to find a deal on something the kids or the wife didn’t buy them for Christmas, and the retailers have ridiculously reduced prices, much like Black Friday in the US.

We also have a few used game stores (Gamestop, Microplay) in town but they are usually my last resort, as their price for a used copy can be only 5-10 dollars lower than buying new.

As much as its hard at times to talk myself out of buying new games on launch day, if the game is that good then the chances are that in a month or so my friends will still be playing it.  If not then at least I didn’t pay full price for a dud that’s destined for my backlog.

Written by an Adult Gamer