09 Apr

By Joe Mattucci

I have been called lots of things in my life and most are not fit to be put into print.  But one moniker that does suit me and can be said in mixed company is “cheap.”  With a mortgage, car payments, daycare costs, and other financial pains of adult life, I do not have piles of cash laying around to be burned on video game frivolity.

Rarely do I pay full price for electronics.  I don’t haggle and I don’t beg, but I do painstakingly research what I am buying with the hope of uncovering a deal.  Most recently I managed to pick up an 80 GB Playstation 3 for $223.99, taxes included.  Granted this required me to sign up for a store credit card, but that 3”x2” piece of plastic will meet with my scissors-of-doom as soon as it reaches my mail box.  (Side note: scissors-of-doom are not currently available for purchase at any retailer, but can be created at home with a standard pair of scissors, a permanent marker in the color of your choice, and the ability to write “scissors-of-doom” on the side of the blade.)

Deals are out there, you just need to know where to look for them.  Entire online communities are dedicated to helping those of us who want to keep foldable money in our wallets.  www.dealnews.com, www.fatwallet.com, www.slickdeals.net, and www.cheapassgamer.com are a few of my favorite money savers.  Where I dabble in a frugal gaming lifestyle, there are others out there who live and breathe to find the best deal available.  To them, MSRP is something to be looked at with disdain and contempt; thankfully through their whimsical avatars they gladly share their money saving discoveries.

If you are searching for a deal I recommend hitting up the sites mentioned above, as I plan to do in the next day or so.  I’m trying to get my hands on a USB headset for my PS3.  This will require checking user reviews at CNET and Amazon.com, searching the deal discussions at fatwallet and slickdeals, and if all else fails glimpsing at what is sitting on eBay.  Hopefully in the next week or so I will have procured a shiny new headset for less than the retail price.

With all that being said, I do have a pain threshold for money saving risks taken on games and electronics.  I break into cold sweats thinking about plunking down $200.00 for a game system on eBay only to have a Playstation box filled with packing peanuts and marbles show up on my doorstep.  I eye Craigslist with caution, constantly thinking I am about to go to my local grocery store parking lot to buy a used iPod and somehow wind up in a bathtub full of ice with my kidneys missing.

Setting aside the risks of opening an expensive box of marbles or losing some of my more necessary internal organs, there are other pitfalls to being a spendthrift.  I typically do not play the newest blockbuster game on its release date.  I usually get my hands on a game a few months after it hit the store shelves.  $50 to $60 for a game is steep and I can not logically part with that sum of money.  Yes, yes, I know, it costs millions of dollars to create that game and the sticker price is somewhat reflective of that.  But to that argument I have to counter that I have wound up with some terrible games (Nintendo, I’m looking at you) that had I known better I would have bought a ball peen hammer for half the price of the game, smacked myself in the head with it, and would have enjoyed it more.

Games are not cheap and with the gaming industry thriving, there is little chance prices will start dropping.  The only viable weapon I have against these prices is to troll about the internet in the hopes of finding a deal that will save me 15% off the list price and give me free shipping.

Why not rent games?  Well occasionally I do.  But there are those titles that I need to own since I am someone who likes to play through my games a number of times to ensure I have found every power-up, every Easter egg, and every glitchy enemy that floats up to the ceiling if you shoot him with a Klobb.

Being a gamer is going to cost you money, but if you are willing to put forth a little bit of effort, you can often times find that deals are out there.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Joe Mattucci.