Home Editorial Gaming on a Budget (Part 1)

It’s pretty common to hear gamers complain about how much their wallets are ailing them these days. It’s understandable; with the typical console retail releases set at $60, even two games a quarter will set you back more than a half-K, once taxes are thrown in.

But thanks to the wonders of the Internet and the increasingly competitive realm of retail game sales, it’s getting easier and easier to get great games for less than full MSRP.

Know What It’s Worth

The most important thing to get a grasp on before you buy or sell games is how much they’re really worth. Bitch and moan all you want about getting 25 cents for Madden 2008, but it’s probably worth even less than that. On the other side of the golden coin, it would suck to miss out on a huge bargain because you didn’t know how good a particular sale was.

Video Game Price Charts is the definitive source for game prices. VGPC pulls average sale prices for new and used games from a variety of retail and secondhand sources to show you exactly how much any game is going for in any condition. Bookmark this site now. Right now. I’ll wait, it’s cool.

Knowing what the game’s worth will help you buy and sell games with a lot more financial savvy. If you’re peddling something on eBay and need to ditch it pronto, throw in a “Buy It Now” price just under the average value for a faster sale. If you need to scrounge up more cash, inflate the price a bit on Craigslist. The average person buying there won’t have a clue.

Of course, VGPC only tracks average prices, and as such it won’t help you find killer deals. For that, I highly recommend two sites. Game Deal Daily features one or two games on sale every day. Often these are overstock titles, or Hong Kong versions of the game that play in English but have a cover in Chinese (games work fine on North American consoles). If you can overlook slightly different cover art, these can be a total steal. Another site,  Slick Deals, aggregates sales and discounts from everywhere on the Internet and gives you the heads up for massive, nearly-criminal savings. (Most deals posted are not video game related, but it sure doesn’t hurt to save money on a nice pair of jeans, either.)

Cash 4 Games

If you’re in the business of selling some of your old games, you have a LOT of options before heading to GetShaft Gamestop to trade them in for 1/3 of what GS will turn them around for. eBay is, of course, the largest international venue for your products. You’ll get a fair price, the buyer can cover shipping, and it’s cold, hard (PayPal) cash. The biggest downsides to selling on eBay are, of course, there’s a lot of waiting, eBay and Paypal take cuts of your profit, and you can’t be sure you’ll get a certain price, unless you post a Buy It Now offer. (eBay takes more fees from these offers). That said, as long as you’re not completely incompetent at describing your game, it is pretty much guaranteed to sell, if you create a no-reserve auction starting at $0.01. That sounds scary, but in reality these auctions usually end up with the highest final bid.

As I mentioned before, Craigslist is another great option. You’re dealing with people in your general area, it’s completely free to use (in 95% of regions), and you don’t have to worry about shipping, as the usual MO is to perform the sale in person for cash. You can get higher prices because you’ll set them from the start, and you can even offer barters or trades. That said, it’s important to remember that while trading in person with strangers means no fees, it also means there’s no assurance that person won’t shank you and leave your body in a sewer. While I personally have never been gutted and left to die, dealing with strangers in person means you should take precautions: Meet during the day, let people know where you are going to be, and wear sneakers.

(in case you have to run for your life)

Stay tuned for Part 2, where we’ll take a look at some interesting options for game trading, and Part 3 where we’ll discuss leveraging killer deals for profit.

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