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Video games on a budget 

You want to be a gamer but you don’t want to go broke doing it? This is how to have virtual fun on the cheap.

click to enlarge Toot your whatsit for Zelda: The Ocarina of Time, for the Nintendo 64!
  • Toot your whatsit for Zelda: The Ocarina of Time, for the Nintendo 64!
Buying and playing video games can be so expensive---and so cheap. With $150 special edition retail games on one end and 99-cent apps and free-to-play online games on the other, there's a wide range of playing opportunities for all budgets. Subscription fees, downloadable content, classic games and micro-payments are also vying for your hard-earned money.

And the recent hack and subsequent outage of the PlayStation Network has consumers worried about linking their credit cards to online stores and for good reason. Despite the convenience of downloading a game from your living room, buying from a store has never seemed so safe.

A tried and true method to save money on gaming is to trade in old games for in-store credit. Some people prefer to hold onto their stacks of Maddens and Halos for nostalgic reasons or as collectibles, but trading in games can take the sting out of buying a brand new release.

Stores such as Electronics Boutique/GameStop will often have special offers and deals for trade-in; get three games and get a new title free (under certain criteria). Keep checking flyers or the store websites for the perfect time to strike.

EB Games will only take games from the current generation of consoles, The PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, et cetera. So if you've got a box of older gen games sitting in your attic upstairs you'd like to trade in, head over to The Last Game Store on Lacewood Drive.

"Last Game Store is kind of like a used vinyl shop, but for games," says owner Adam Perry. "A lot of people come here for nostalgic reasons, or to trade in their old games for new ones."

Some popular items at The Last Game Store include The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64) and Super Mario Bros. (NES). So if you miss the simpler days of gaming, or just love gaming culture, check them out. They also sell lots of toys, hats and other merchandise related to the love of gaming.

One issue with buying used games--- especially with the newer consoles---is that game publishers, like Electronic Arts and Activision, are finding ways to make a used title less valuable. Some new releases get one-time-use codes that allow the gamer to access all of the features of the game, while somebody who buys a used version will need to purchase those features separately online. It's a way for publishers to get a cut from the growing used game market and is also pretty lame.

Sometimes the best way to get a deal on a game is patience. Inevitably the price of a game will go down, and as it matures, it will only get cheaper---usually bottoming out at $19.99 for current gen games.

 "I wait. In most cases I don't need to play a game as soon as it comes out," says Chris Muise, a recent King's grad and fan of comics and gaming. "For example, I've wanted Batman: Arkham Asylum since it hit shelves. But I waited. Then, yesterday, found it new for $20" at Future Shop in Bayers Lake, somewhere he doesn't normally shop.

If a game sells well, it will usually get the distinction of a "greatest hit" at a lower price and packed in with extra content, sometimes it helps to wait.

One more source of discount games is online marketplaces and retailers. There are plenty of issues with that, but it can be hard to find better discounts. Just take advantage of the sales and then go back to buying local.

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