Heavy Gaming on a Budget

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Some of us like games.  Some of us love games.  Some of us get sucked into our TV and become one with the games…

Captain N anyone?

Then there are us who are addicted to games.  If we don’t get our fix of the latest and greatest games we get the sweats, we can’t focus at work, we start selling off our possessions in order to get another fix.  I’ve done a lot of research to try and get my fix without completely ruining all other aspects of my life.  Here are my results.

Option 1:  Have lots of money.

The easiest way of course is to just spend all your available finances at the local game store and hope you can save $5 on a used copy.  Not going to work in the long run unless you are this guy.

Begin coveting… mmm… now.

Option 2:  Sell your old games.

If you are hanging onto one of these you better take a long hard look at your life…

It’s hard to part with old games, but if you really get down to it, when was the last time you played that old copy of Shaq Fu (shudder).  If you aren’t playing them, why not sell them?  Only problem is that this deprives you of those days of nostalgia when you dust off the NES and play Castlevania or Mario Bros 3 (after of 20 minutes of blowing into the old thing).  Even worse, you’ll probably get 50% or less of the value of the game if you go to most stores.  If a game is overly popular or completely hated, they’ll give you pennies on the dollar for what you have.

Option 3:  In the Mail.

I’ve done a bit of research into this and found a few different companies that all provide the basic Netflix with games service.  First off a number of companies that used to do this are all gone.  The three main competitors I could find were Gamefly, Gamerang, and Gottaplay.

If you look really closely, you might be able to tell this is a Gamefly ad.

I personally tried out Gamefly and found it nice to come home to a game in the mail and start playing.  Only problem is that it wasn’t for about a week or so here in Utah and it was number 7 or lower on my queue.  The time frame wouldn’t have been such a big deal if it weren’t for my only signing up for one game out at a time.  Also when I would get a game that wasn’t very fun or that I’d beat far too quickly, I’d have a gap of a week, a day of playing, then another week of nothing.  Their limitations are understandable.  Unlike movies, when you rent a game you keep it for a much longer period of time.  So it can be tough to keep up with demand on new and popular games.  The prices range from about $12 – $18 for one disc to $20  – $25 for two.  I say that two at a time is a requirement due to mail lag.  According to their sites, Gamerang claims to have the highest volume of total titles at 9000.  Gamefly is close with 7000.  Gottaplay had the smallest amount with 4000, but has an advantage over the other two with a total of 9 different hubs around the U.S.  They actually guarantee their shipping times to be the shortest out there.

One other contender that recently popped up is Blockbuster.  You can now add video games onto their Netflix-esque in-the-mail service.  Prices range from $12 for one movie/game to $20 for 3 at a time.  They also allow a limited amount of monthly in-store exchanges.

Option 4:  Renting

Renting has changed a lot since I was a kid and now they have renting for 5 days and up at many places.  This has become my preferred method because it’s as fast as I want it to be.  I currently am with Blockbuster’s Game Pass which has you pay a monthly fee and allows you to take a game out for as long as you like and can change it at any time.  It’s a little more costly than the mail versions coming in at $22 for only one disc, but your only wait time is the distance to drive to your local store.  I have on numerous occasions dropped off my current game I’ve been playing at home, grabbed a good multiplayer game like Mario Party, played at my friend’s house then on the way home, dropped it off and picked up my original game again.

Option 5:  Cloud Gaming

A very recent addition to gaming that not many have heard about yet are the cloud gaming services.  For those of you unfamiliar with the cloud, I’ll explain the concept quickly.  To play the hot games of our time you need either a new age console (Xbox 360, PS3) or a somewhat beefy computer.  Both require a little bit of revenue to keep up with the latest and greatest (newer graphics card, more RAM, next gen consoles as they come).  To alleviate the stress on your wallet, cloud gaming instead has high-end servers on their end that do the powerful computing and then use a high speed internet line to transmit the video directly to your PC or TV.  With that capability all you need is a basic computer that can access the internet to play the high end games.  No discs to scratch, no consoles to red ring, no hard drive to update repeatedly every time they make a change to the game.  The major company that has this ability right now is Onlive.  Another company still within closed beta is Gaikai.

OnLive up until recently only allowed users to purchase 3 or 5 day playpasses much like a rental.  They also allowed an unlimited playpass for each individual game for about the price of buying a used copy at your local game store.  Now they have added the Playpack plan which allows you to play any of their playpack games as much as you like for $10 a month.  This is the plan most people have been waiting for them to implement.  They still have a somewhat limited selection (around 40 titles) but they are planning on bringing many more.  If you don’t have a computer or just don’t like the concept of gaming from a PC, you can also purchase a “micro console” which is almost literally nothing more than an internet-capable USB hub with TV hookups.  It also comes with a coupon for a free game on their service.

Have you tried any of these or others?  Give your feedback below.


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