Video games have been all the rage since the pandemic, and not just among kids.
Nearly half of Americans ages 55 to 64 play video games at least one hour a week, according to the Entertainment Software Association. Even people 65 and older play games on their smartphones and computers to kill time or simply be entertained.
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That’s getting a little more difficult to do with inflation at a 40-year high. At the same time the price of gas, food and other necessities is soaring, so is the cost of video games. With less purchasing power, buying a $70 game may not be in your budget. After all, 36 percent of older adults told the Entertainment Software Association that when making a purchasing decision, the price of the game is important.
Saving on video games may not be as easy these days, but you can find ways to get a deal. Here’s how.
1. Consider a membership program
The consumer lure “loyalty has its rewards” could not be more true than in the video game market. Game makers want you to keep coming back, and they offer membership programs to achieve that.
With the plans, you pay monthly and get unlimited access to video games you can play online, on your PC or on your mobile phone. Nintendo’s Switch Online + Expansion Pack membership is one example.
It gives users access to a library of more than 100 games and costs $50 for an annual membership. That’s less than the cost of one brand-new video game. Sure, it may not offer the latest titles, but having so many games to choose from should keep you busy for a while.
Many game makers and online services will let you pay monthly for unlimited access. Despite the potential savings, older adults haven’t embraced these memberships in large numbers yet.
“Just 6 percent of players over 55 say they subscribe to a service that gives access to a library of video games, a much smaller percentage of players than in other age groups,” says Carrie Robinson, manager of industry affairs at the Entertainment Software Association.
2. Play many AARP games for free
AARP’s website has its own library of games you can play on your laptop, smartphone or tablet. Most are free, some earn AARP Rewards points for those who have registered, and others are unlocked when you join AARP and log on to the site as a member.
If you have the AARP Now app on your phone, available in both the Apple App and Google Play stores, check out word games you can play right in the app.
3. Tap your Amazon Prime account
If you are among the millions of people with an Amazon Prime membership, you have access to a suite of free video games you may not have known about. Amazon’s Prime Gaming offers a collection of PC games each month as well as exclusive in-game content. The best part: You don’t have to pay extra if you have a Prime subscription.
4. Hold tight on purchasing a new title
When the release date for a new video game comes out, early adopters clamor to be the first to get their hands on the game. They rush to preorder, paying full price.
But the longer you wait to pull the trigger, the cheaper the game will be. Consider this: When God of War was released in April 2018, it was $50. It’s now $20.
5. Buy pre-owned games
Several brick-and-mortar as well as online retailers sell pre-owned video games, which you can get at a steep discount. These titles are gently used and, depending on which retailer you purchase them from, can be returned.
Amazon.com, eBay, eStarland and Gamestop are just a few of the retailers that sell used video games. Look at secondhand bookstores in your area, too. Some have sections for pre-owned games — as well as CDs and DVDs.
6. Download free games on your mobile device
Some may require in-app purchases, but for the most part, you can play gratis. The key is to resist the temptation to spend money to get to the next level or to get more players.
Given that most older adults — 79 percent, according to the Entertainment Software Association — play puzzle games online, this is a cheap way to entertain yourself.
Donna Fuscaldo is a contributing writer and editor focusing on personal finance and health. She has spent over two decades writing and covering news for several national publications including the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Investopedia and HerMoney.