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Monday, April 3, 2017

How to be a Gamer on a Budget

Gaming can be an expensive hobby. Most gaming equipment, like computers, can be quite extraordinarily expensive. Therefore, it can be quite difficult to be a cash-strapped gamer. Not to worry too much. You can still be a gamer on a budget.

Gaming and frugality can be combined if you put your mind to it. Being a budget gamer is similar to budgeting at home. You won’t be able to have it all, but you don’t have to give it all up either. Expect that you may not be able to buy the latest consoles and titles you may love to have. If you are on a budget, you may have to get used items too.

Here is a list of things you can do to preserve your gaming habits while being cash-strapped:

Buy a Budget Gaming Laptop

Gaming laptops often cost over $2,000, which is largely out of range for budget gamers. Instead of not doing with a gaming laptop at all, you can consider buying a budget gaming laptop. First, let’s clear a common misconception: budget gaming laptops are not low-quality products. They may not have as many features as high-end gaming laptops, but the budget products are as durable and efficient as the other ones.

You can expect to buy a budget gaming laptop for under $1,000. For around $400 to $700, you can expect specs like Intel Core i5, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB HDD and a mid-range graphics card. These laptops are best suited for casual to moderate gaming. Closer to $1,000 you can buy machines with Intel Core i7 processors, SSDs or 1TB HDDs, 8GB or more of RAM, high-res screen, and a recent NVIDIA or similar graphics card.

Be aware that you cannot change the graphics card on a gaming laptop as you do on a desktop. So, choose a laptop with a good graphics card. Spend money on that, rather than on other aspects like screen size.

Forget about the brand when buying budget laptops. While you may not find top gaming computer brands like Alienware in the budget range, you can expect computers of well-respected brands. In fact, some of the best gaming laptops under $1000 are made by established brands like Dell, Acer, and HP. You can expect budget gaming laptop specialty brands like MSI as well.

For budget users, gaming laptops are more suitable than desktops. It’s hard to find gaming desktops in the budget range, unless you spend time looking for individual parts for cheap, which can be a hassle. Gaming laptops also offer more value because you can double one as a work computer and take it anywhere you go. 

Consider Budget Gaming Accessories

Once you have a computer, it’s time to get the cool gaming accessories like keyboard, mouse, speakers and a headset. There are certainly budget options for these as well, so don’t go for the most expensive one you see.

Gaming keyboard and mouse pairs can be purchased for cheap under $50. Product quality for this price range can vary quite a bit. So it’s highly recommended to read customer reviews, professional reviews and watch testing videos before you make a purchase. It’s recommended to buy gaming keyboards and mice with a returns policy or warranty. So if a key gives out, you can easily return and replace.

There are plenty of great gaming headsets you can buy for under $50. Go for quality, not the brand name. Consider searching for regular headsets without the word “gaming.” Sometimes sellers charge more simply by claiming a headset is for gaming. Spend time looking on Amazon and reading gadget blogs that recommend cheaper options. 

Don’t Rush to Buy New Titles

If you are on a budget, it’s never smart to rush to buy the latest gaming titles. New releases are always far more expensive than they should be. As much as you’d like, you can only save money if you wait to buy a new release. Wait at least for 6 months until the prices go down. You will also benefit from buying a game with a patch. Obviously, you will lose money and patience buying a new game full of bugs. Patience pays and also improves your gaming experience.

Buy Used Titles

If possible, try to buy used titles. Used items can cost as much as 50 percent less than the original retail price. Auction site eBay is a great place to buy used items. You don’t necessarily have to bid on things. Some sellers put up used items for sale.

If you are in a rush to buy a new release, search around online shopping sites to see if anyone is selling the title used. It’s not rare to find people reselling titles as soon as they bought them.

Take Advantages of Discounts

Watch out for clearance sales from stores like Best Buy or online sites like Amazon. Gaming accessories and titles could be up for excellent discounts if you are willing to wait. You will not be able to buy latest releases at a discount, but you can buy a new title or an accessory at a price suited for a used item. 

Avoid Yearly Subscriptions

If you love playing online games, avoid buying a yearly subscription right away. Sure, yearly subscriptions cost less per month than monthly subscriptions. Unless you plan on playing the game at least 20 days for each month of the year, you are wasting money. Think about the months you might not be playing the game: summer vacations, Christmas weeks, busy work weeks in the middle of the year and so on. You will only be wasting money by getting yearly subscriptions in this case. Rather, pay for the subscriptions only on months that you know you can play the game for all four weeks.

You can also save money by playing games on older consoles that you can buy now for a fraction of the original retail price. Hardcore gamers can also try their hand at smartphone games. They may not offer the same experience, but these games offer their own unique experience. You can search around for fun, but cheap titles. Minecraft is a major example. Follow these tips along with the ones mentioned above, and you will be able to enjoy your gaming hobby even on a strict budget.

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