Gaming can be an expensive hobby, but it doesn’t have to be. Yes, if you look around you’ll find a vast array of systems and peripherals that will set you back a pretty penny or two, and that’s before you even buy games to play. But, there are ways in which you can game on a budget. In our latest feature, we hope to help you find some ways that can help you maybe game a little savvier.
Big brands and prices don’t always mean better products
Ok, so sometimes you do get what you pay for. If you splash out on some cheap knock-off gadgets made in a dodgy factory in China that uses children to glue all the components together, then yes, you may regret it when it explodes and burns your house down. However, that doesn’t always mean it is the case if you’re buying on a budget. Just look at how well discount retailers such as Aldi and Lidl are doing, they’re eating up a significant market share from the big supermarkets in the UK by offering cheaper alternatives, and a lot of the time there is no substitute in terms of quality, with many of their products winning awards.
Gaming equipment is exactly the same. Quite often you can just be paying for the name rather than anything else, and why is it they’re so expensive? Because you see the pro’s using them so it makes them a must-have item. But if you’re just starting out, or you’re gaming for fun rather than competitively, you can easily pick up budget keyboards, headsets or even a mouse, and they’ll all do the jobs you need them to do. Ok, so the quality and response times etc. may differ to some top brand ones, but for the average gamer, you probably won’t notice too much, and you can even think of it as training to get better. Because if you’re smashing it using some budget gear, imagine what you could do if you do get a super fancy version of your tech. Just like how Brazilian footballers of old used to play football with oranges on the beach when they grew up, those players dominated the sport for years.
Be careful though, as there are a lot of scammers out there who will try to sell you fake/poor quality products. For example, we did an experiment using the selling app Wish. You’ll find all sorts of weird and wonderful things on there, but you’ll also see sellers advertising things like a GTX 1050ti (unbranded) for like £32, an absolute bargain at first glance. But as expected when we ordered one and plugged it in, you’ll soon find out it’s not the real deal. Whilst it will boot up and work, it can barely run anything and a simple diagnostics test will show that it’s a fake. Fortunately, Wish are extremely good at refunding you when this happens, but it’s probably not worth the hassle of going through in the first place. In these circumstances, you probably are better off sticking with the brand names.
Buying Second Hand
Second-hand doesn’t always mean second best. In fact, a lot of businesses such as CEX build their business model on selling pre-owned goods, and you can see why. There is a lot of money to be made from it. And it’s not just companies doing this, you’ll find lots of video games and tech for sale online and at places like car boot sales. In all honesty though it is a really great way to shop on a budget.
Let’s look at PCs for a minute. People are always upgrading their systems and to fund new parts they sell their old ones. Whether that be to someone like CEX or just via local selling sites and groups on Facebook. This can be a great way to upgrade your own PC by buying reduced price parts. Ok, so buying privately does come with a risk, although most legit sellers will show you the parts working. But if you don’t want to take that risk you can go to a store instead, which may cost a little more, but you’ll at least have a parts guarantee.
The same goes for games as well. A new game comes out, many people will buy the game, complete it in a few days and cash it back in, normally for a decent return as it’s still newly released. Sometimes you can save yourself a few quid on new titles doing this, but not always because special offers do come and go on new titles. And whilst they can reduce the price of a new game, they’ve paid a substantial amount for pre-owned so the prices tend not to get reduced that quickly. You also run the risk of missing out on bonus content, however, not everyone always redeems the content that comes with games so you might luck out.
I didn’t want to talk about getting free games and stuff straight away as you probably would’ve stopped reading right there, but yes you can get free stuff from a few places and in many different ways. This probably applies to games more so than tech, but I doubt you’ll get many complaints about that if you’re on a budget. The first way of finding free stuff is again, searching selling sites and Facebook groups. Many people will have clear-outs now and again and are just happy to get rid of their stuff. But what is one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. Ok, you may not get the newest games this way, but you can relive some of your childhood gaming memories which are even better sometimes.
Next up is the option of downloading free-to-play games such as Fortnite and Paladins. That’s right, you don’t actually have to pay a penny to play any of these games and there are so many more out there, these are just some of the biggest ones. Any money actually spent on them is purely for cosmetics, although in the case of Paladins you can also pay to unlock new champions, which could be seen as pay-to-win although you can unlock them for free by just playing the game. And just because you buy a newly released one, doesn’t mean they’ll be better than the freely supplied ones, so you can still kick ass and will feel even better about it knowing you’ve not spent a penny.
There is also another way of getting free games and this includes new or yet-to-be-released titles. It does help to be a content creator or streamer for this, but you don’t have to be always, it depends on the developer/publisher. All you have to do is interact with the developers of games, although you’ll likely be more successful with indie ones. Normally it just means joining their Discord where they will share the game’s news with you, chat with you and this can lead to free games in return for feedback. It’s a great way to build relationships in the gaming community, especially for developers because they can find ways to improve games without having to pay for QA testers. Alternatively, you can sign up to sites like Keymailer to request codes, but you do really have to be a content creator of sorts for that.
And the last way to get free stuff, set up your own version of FULLSYNC or even ask about joining our team, you can get in touch by clicking HERE and filling out our contact form. But if you do go it alone, a blog or vlog, a news site or even a podcast, any form of media outlet where your coverage can influence people can all lead to free games and tech. I’m not saying this is the main reason we do what we do, in fact, there are quite a few outgoing costs so it can tighten your budget initially, and there is a lot more work that goes into running a site than just playing video games. In fact, sometimes you question if it’s even worth it, but it is one of the perks that come with the job. The more successful you are, the more stuff you’ll get. Just don’t become one of those people who only say positive things about stuff to keep getting more stuff. If something sucks, let them know, otherwise, they can’t improve on their products and you’d only be misleading your followers into purchasing shoddy crap.
Spreading the cost
A new console comes out, the special edition of your favourite game is announced, your motherboard goes bust in your PC. These can all be very expensive things to buy/replace. Fortunately, there is a way you can get them if you’re on a budget without impacting you too hard financially.
Now, these options we’re going to list aren’t suitable for everyone, and probably won’t be available to all. However, they can be a quick fix option in some cases or a way to order more expensive items whilst spreading the cost and minimalising the financial impact it will have on you in the short term.
Firstly, and more suited to when you need a quick fix is an option of taking out online loans. Now, we’re not talking about going to the likes of Wonga who charge extortionate amounts of interest, we’re thinking more trustworthy sites that are regulated by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) such as Cash Lady. As we said, they’re not ideal for all, but if my PC went bust right now, with the lack of money in my account I’d have to wait until payday to get a new or second-hand one, or even a replacement part. That means no news, no reviews, no content whatsoever. So we’d need to sort something out snappy. For full-time streamers, this could spell a bigger catastrophe, because they rely on it for their income. And whilst a sponsorship from someone may help with some parts, it won’t always, so a quick short term loan can be a life-saver in a time of need.
The other alternative is getting stuff on finance, whether it be from a catalogue site such as Very or going somewhere like eBuyer and using their finance calculator to purchase a new PC. This means you can get items worth upwards of £1,000, but instead of paying it all out at once, because what normal person has that cash lying around, you can spread the cost over a longer period instead. Ideal for those on a budget, and what’s even better is quite often you can even get the items with 0% interest, meaning it won’t actually cost you any extra to do this and you’re left paying easily repayable monthly amounts. That’s not the only positive about these methods either, because they can also help improve your credit score as long as you don’t skip on payments and pay all the money back on time (or early if you’re able to).
And that’s pretty much us done and dusted. Hopefully, you found our advice for gaming on a budget of some use and you can go away after reading this and be a bit savvier when it comes to splashing the cash on games and tech. Like we’ve said though, not every option we’ve mentioned is going to be for everyone, but maybe there is something there for you. Just be sure whatever you do, you weigh up the pros and cons of what you’re going to do because trust me, knock off PC parts from Wish just aren’t worth the hassle.
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