How to Save Money and Still Enjoy Gaming During the Holidays

The holiday season is approaching, and now more than ever it is important to budget and plan your spending carefully. Shopping for yourself or other loved ones during the holidays doesn’t have to break the bank!

For gamers, it can be especially hard not to get caught up in the web of new releases dropping weekly from October to December. With many new games starting at $70 a pop buying a couple of games at launch will eat through one’s paycheck. 

The joyful holiday season that leads to a cold winter can be a great time for gamers. They can put in dozens of hours into their favorite games, all cozied up indoors. 

One’s enjoyment of the holidays shouldn’t be determined by how much one can spend on gifts and events. However, it is hard for some not to want to indulge in the festivities, which can quickly lead to spending lots of money.

Here are some cost-saving tips that can help save money while still enjoying holiday gaming. 

Happy holidays from Mario and Peach

Avoid FOMO (fear of missing out)

Seeing people gush over new releases on the internet or listening to exciting stories from people you know can make it feel like you are missing out. 

This holiday there will be a new Call of Duty, God of War, and a whole new generation of Pokemon games on the Switch. 

It is harder to avoid spoilers in games, so one can understand the urgency to play a new game as soon as possible. If you are willing to take the risk of spoilers, it will be better for your wallet to wait for the games to get discounted. 

Unfortunately, some games, like first-party Nintendo releases, have rarely been discounted. Zelda Breath of the Wild hardly drops below $40, and it’s been out for five years. 

Most of the time gamers’ patience is rewarded with an appealing sale for a game they otherwise would have spent up to $70 on. Unless day-1 gameplay is a priority don’t fall into the FOMO trap. 

Steam users will also recommend you take advantage of its generous refund policy if you quickly realize you are not enjoying a game. 

Don’t worry about next-generation consoles

Believe it or not, we are two years into this current generation of game consoles. For many, the opportunity to purchase the Playstation 5 or an Xbox Series X/S is a pipedream. Real-world problems have compounded these headaches during the holidays. 

Seeing commercials for new releases like God of War Ragnarok or Horizon Forbidden West can make consumers think that they are missing out on new titles. 

Luckily, many games are still available to play on previous-generation platforms, including PCs and Nintendo Switch. Everything from Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 to NBA 2K23 will still be playable at least for this year’s iteration. 

Sony’s major titles will be released on PS4. Most Microsoft titles launch on all Xbox consoles including PC. Nintendo is solely on the Switch platform with no next-generation upgrade available as of this holiday season. So if God of War Ragnarok is the sole reason you may be stressing over finding a PS5, don’t worry. It’s also going to be available on the PS4. 

God of War Ragnarok - great gift for any gamer around the holidays

The truth is even if the new console were easy to find, there are still not enough games on there to justify the expense. They are certainly not worth the hassle of dealing with bots or risking physical harm to oneself. No one is missing out this holiday season by not having a PS5 or Xbox Series X/S. 

The scarcity of these new consoles, which were a major headache last year, might now be considered a blessing in disguise. Unless you do not have any consoles or are due for an update, it is better to wait. Saving money by not purchasing expensive consoles could leave funds for more game purchases. 

Take advantage of those subscriptions during the holidays

Many people have a laundry list of services they are subscribed to. All three consoles require a paid subscription to at least have access to online play. These services, like Playstation Plus and Xbox Game Pass, are more expensive than they were back a few console generations ago. The upside is that many of these subscription services now give away games or include several titles to choose from. 

In Microsoft’s Game Pass model, gamers can take advantage of the available service on all Xboxes and Windows PCs. The library on Game Pass has a healthy variety of games from the 360 generation and many modern releases. 

For example, new users can sign up for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate this holiday season for one dollar. They can play Minecraft, Halo via the Master Chief Collection, Madden, and even Battlefield. 

Xbox All Access

I took advantage of this deal last holiday season and enjoyed the newly released Halo Infinite campaign and a few other games for a dollar on my PC. I mainly signed up for Halo. Rather than spending full price on one game I basically played a brand new game at launch for a buck. 

One title that is now available for a wider audience is Persona 5 Royal. The hit JRPG was added to Game Pass this holiday season, and that alone is worth the price of a month of Game Pass, discounted or not. 

Game Pass Ultimate is priced at $15 a month, which is not terrible considering what you get. There are enough games on the service that one can argue that they don’t need to purchase individual games when playing on Xbox. 

Other services like Nintendo Switch Online and PlayStation Plus have similar different tiers of subscription that are trying to replicate what Microsoft has done with the Game Pass. Nintendo’s is mostly retro games from the NES to the N64 while Playstation Plus are first-party Sony games and a handful of retro titles. 

Amazon Prime subscribers should also remember that Prime Gaming gives away a handful of monthly games. They are not always the greatest selection though, and it is mainly for PC gamers. However, I was able to redeem both Middle-Earth Shadow of Mordor games, the Mass Effect Trilogy, and Assassin’s Creed Origins this past year to name a few. 

Other PC storefronts like the Epic Game Store or GOG.com occasionally give away free titles. Sometimes Epic will give away major titles like the entire Tomb Raider trilogy or even Grand Theft Auto V. 

If you are subscribed to one or a few of these services, maximize the perks. You may just get more bang for your buck or, even better, try a new game you would never have bought on its own. 

Return to the backlog

Speaking for myself there are enough games across my various systems that the backlog can last me for years. It is still hard not to get sucked into newer releases especially if it’s ones that have been long anticipated. 

Going back to the earlier point about FOMO, if one has a game in their backlog that they never could find the time to start playing, perhaps this holiday season is the right time. Instead of buying Pokemon Scarlet or Violet for the Switch, I could finally start Dragon Quest 11, which has been in my steam library for over a year. Rather than spending money on a game just because it’s new and popular, I can rely on a game that has been recommended for years. 

Putting a pause on purchasing more games will also slow down one’s backlog from piling up even more. 

Play fun, free games with friends around the holidays

Say what you will about live service games and the modern free-to-play model, but there are plenty of free and fun games. Look at games like Fortnite, Warzone, PUBG, Fall Guys, Multiversus, Halo Infinite, Apex Legends, Genshin Impact, and even Overwatch 2

Fall Guys is a great free-to-play multiplayer game

Your mileage may vary on these games, but with a few friends, it is easy to sink countless hours into any of these free experiences. Or, if you prefer to interact with live people, you can always visit a pal and enjoy gaming together on the couch like the good old days.

Budget and plan carefully

Budgeting and planning carefully is the most important part of saving money this holiday. How much one is willing to spend or what one wants varies from person to person. If there were a bunch of new releases this year, maybe wait and see which one you might want the most and pick just one. 

If you have a new console like a PS5 maybe just plan on picking up one new generation title this year. I am waiting to see if any of the upcoming releases interest me enough to warrant a full-price purchase. Owning all major platforms I will be tested this holiday with various sales on PC and a handful of releases like God of War: Ragnarok and Sonic Frontier that excite me. 

FOMO has already started to creep in for me with Persona 5 Royal being available on Switch. I love that game so much that imagining myself playing on my comfy Switch Lite will be challenging to avoid buying these next few months. 

A simple plan or budget for the holiday that I like to follow is to spend no more than two full-price games worth for the holiday season. In the past, this usually came to be about $120, but I tend to stay closer to $100. For this holiday I plan to spend no more than $75, or the price of one new release, since the economy is not too hot. 

Everyone is in their own unique situation so feel free to spend how you please. Even if you have to cut costs this holiday season, people can still have a great time gaming this winter without running out of cash. 

Are you planning on picking up any new games this holiday? What is your favorite type of game to play during the winter? Join the conversation in the comment section.

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