It’s no secret that being an avid gamer can get expensive – and fast.
A lot of work goes into making a video game, and more often than not, the prices reflect that.
Buying a brand new game these days can cost you upwards of $80, and that's without factoring in the trend of season passes that continues to gain traffic with AAA games.
While you’re (hopefully) getting at least 10 hours of gameplay out of your purchase – sometimes 10x that – it can be a huge strain on your entertainment budget if you always want to play the hottest games.
And you haven’t even finished your backlog of last year’s games yet, have you?
Luckily for us PC gamers, we have a bunch of options to get a better deal on even the newest games, not to mention a fantastic arsenal of free-to-play games.
So, here are your options as you gear up for the next generation of gameplay:
- Steam sales, including their seasonal, weekend & midweek, and bundle offers,
- Humble Bundle, plus their subscription service and store,
- gaming marketplaces, such as g2a, and
- alternative sellers, like gamersgate.
Steam seems to always be offering up some head-turning sales.
Whether it be to celebrate the new season or just the end of another week, checking back regularly with Steam can land you some great deals.
And a little tip: Make use of that wishlist feature Steam gives you. They’ll email you whenever an item on your wishlist goes on sale, so you can be on top of the newest discounts.
Steam’s biggest sale of the year...
...usually happens 4 times a year.
Every season, and sometimes for holidays in-between, Steam has a huge week-long, virtually store-wide sale. The dates aren't usually 100% confirmed ahead of time, but users have gotten pretty good at predicting when the next one will come up.
As it’s the biggest PC gaming platform to date, the literal thousands of sales available during the sale will cover most, if not all, of your wishlist.
Discounts can range from a measly 5% on the newest games, all the way up to 90% on some indie hits, but most games are around the 25%-50% mark.
Flash sales of days gone by...
My favourite part of Steam sales was always the flash sales.
Small selections of games would get an increased discount for a short period of time.
It turned shopping into a game of its own when you'd need to check back daily to see the best deals.
They discontinued flash sales in late 2015, and though PC Gamer reported they’d be bringing it back, we didn’t see any on 2018’s Halloween sale...or the Autumn sale...
But we can still hold on hope for the next sale…
Publisher Weekend sales and Midweek Madness
Steam will also host "Publisher Weekend" sales from Friday-Sunday.
During this time, they shine the spotlight on a particular game publisher, putting all their games on sale. These can also come in the form of "Midweek Madness" sales, which last from Wednesday to Thursday.
This is often done as part of a special anniversary celebration, or to promote a new game release, but it can happen completely out of the blue as well.
Like the seasonal sales, the game discounts for these sales can range from 10% on the newest games all the way up to 90%, but Publisher Weekend and Midweek Madness sales often end up being a bit more toned down.
Steam also offers bundles, both during other sale events and on their own.
In a bundle, you can get several games that are connected in some way. They could be part of the same series, by the same publisher, or maybe just in the same genre.
The bundle price is of course heavily discounted, and Steam will even allow you to skip buying any games in the bundle you already own.
Remember that Steam’s price isn’t the only one available
Just because Steam is the most popular gaming platform, it doesn’t mean they will always have the best prices.
Every time you’re looking at buying a specific game, it’s good to look at Steam first, but never forget to look around at your options before taking that $80 plunge.
Humble Bundle is an amazing game discount website...and one of the main reasons my Steam library is so huge.
The site offers bundles of related games that usually follow a specific theme, such as horror games, but can also be publisher or franchise focused. Each offer lasts 2 weeks.
These bundles can be purchased for a "pay what you want" price, usually with a minimum of $1. And once you decide what you want to pay, you can determine what percentage of your purchase goes to the following 3 categories:
- the supporting charity,
- the game developers, and
- Humble Bundle itself.
There are usually 3 or more games in the main bundle, but there’s always an option to pay more than the average price to unlock even more games.
Of course, the average price depends on how much everyone else is paying, but I’ve seen it be as low as $4.12 and as high as $15.
Note: Purchased games are usually delivered in the form of Steam keys, so you just need to activate them on your Steam account to have access to them there.
Not just games
Humble has expanded over the years and now also carries ebooks, audiobooks, and software bundles.
They always have several bundles going on at once, at least 1 from each category.
All bundles work exactly the same way: pay-what-you-want with a low minimum price and a higher payment option to unlock more.
Humble Bundle now also has something called Humble Monthly, a subscription-based service that sends you a curated bundle of games monthly – all of which are yours to keep forever.
You’re able to see in advance a few of the games that’ll be offered in the upcoming month, but the rest of the games are hidden until the first Friday of each month.
These bundles are worth at least $100, and while looking at previous months, many of them have gone well over the $200 mark – and the best part is, it only costs $12 a month to subscribe.
Humble Bundle will also give you great deals outside of their bundles. Their site gives you access to thousands of games, often for a discounted price.
They have their own calendar of sales, so their discounted price will be even more discounted once the right sale comes around.
They’ve also introduced a cash-back feature, where you can have 5% of your purchase go right back into your Humble wallet to use on future games.
And, of course, being the charity-focused website that they are, 5% of your purchase also goes towards a charity of your choice. And if you're feeling extra charitable, you can raise this to 10%, if you want to opt out of the cash-back program.
G2A: A gaming marketplace
There are many sites that offer discounted Steam keys, all with varying levels of sketchiness.
One of the most popular, and also one I’ve used several times myself, is G2A.
This site features a community of Steam key resellers who offer games for deeply discounted prices.
Like Amazon, sellers have profiles which people leave reviews for, so you can generally tell if they’re legit or not.
And if you still don’t 100% trust the seller, G2A offers a protection plan that guarantees satisfaction and also comes with price matching.
Gamersgate: Your Steam alternative
The last place you can look for the best game deals is alternative sellers, like Gamersgate.
You never know, they could be having a sale at any given time, allowing you to buy a game for a discounted price, even when Steam isn’t having a sale.
Check before you buy
Whether you want the hottest new Battlefield game, or you’re still catching up to the latest Resident Evil game, you can almost always get a discount...
...You just need to look for it – though it does help to know where to look.
But in my opinion, you should never settle for paying full price until you’re satisfied you’ve fully scoured the internet.
What about you?
What are your experiences with the sites I’ve listed here?
Do you have any suggestions that I missed?
Be sure to let us know in the comments!