It’s no secret that gaming can be an expensive hobby. A new PlayStation or Xbox console on its own will set you back a few hundred bucks – and that’s before you buy any accessories, peripherals or even games to play. To build a decent PC gaming system is no less affordable, especially if you plan on running the latest AAA titles at high graphics settings.
However, that’s not to say you can’t have a blast playing a wide range of games without spending a lot of money – if any at all. And thanks to recent innovations like cloud gaming, you can even enjoy more demanding games without having to splurge on the necessary hardware. In this guide, we’ll explore how you can game for less online. Let’s begin.
Hunt Down Cheap and Free Games
If you’re interested in taking the classic approach and buying discs, you can find them on secondhand marketplaces such as eBay, Craigslist and OfferUp. The latter two markets and similar options are usually better as you can negotiate. What’s great about physical copies is that you can sell them to get some of your cash back when you’re done playing.
For those who fancy classic games, platforms such as GoG.com and Steam offer piles of retro titles that can be grabbed at bargain prices. There are also many free-to-play games available at these online stores. You might even be able to find a paid game for free. For example, the Epic Games store regularly hands out premium titles at no cost.
Another option is to head to Humble Bundle or Itch.io and try their pay-what-you-want bundles. These typically contain a number of games from indie developers, and the proceeds go to a charitable cause. You might also consider heading to your local library, as some allow you to rent discs for free.
Play in Your Browser
There are many ways to get your gaming fix without having to leave your browser. If you’re feeling lucky, online casinos allow you to play blackjack, poker and roulette in a “practice mode” which uses virtual currency. Most casino sites also offer sign-up bonuses that include free spins to potentially win big without paying a penny.
Then you have free online games websites, which are home to hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of browser-based titles. From shooters to racers to puzzlers to adventure games, you’re bound to find something that suits your taste no matter your genre preference. Listed below are a few of the most popular free online games sites:
- Addicting Games
- Not Doppler
Some of these websites also have communities where you can start discussions with fellow gamers and browse content created by other players. Signing up also brings the advantage of being able to collect achievements and save progress so that you can get right back to where you were in the last session.
Try Cloud Gaming
The aforementioned options are all great, but what if you want to experience the latest high-end games? In the past, this would require buying a console or building a gaming PC, both of which are costly endeavors. But thanks to cloud gaming, this is no longer necessary.
In exchange for a monthly subscription fee, which usually costs as much as a game, you can play a large selection of titles through the cloud gaming service provider’s platform. The game is run on a supercomputer in the provider’s network, and the content is streamed to your device.
Some of these services, such as Nvidia’s GeForce Now, offer a free tier where you can play for a limited amount of time. This can come at the cost of only having access to certain games or waiting in a queue, but it’s a good way to see if the service is to your liking. Google Stadia is another popular option in this category. A few leading alternatives include:
- Amazon Luna
Keep in mind that the key requirement for cloud gaming is sufficiently fast internet. As long as your Wi-Fi is beefy enough to stream your games smoothly, you can play on just about any device, either through the service’s software or in your browser. This opens up limitless possibilities, like playing AAA titles at maximum settings on your tablet or smart TV.
Subscribe to a Monthly Service
Finally, there are subscription services that give you access to a library of games for a set monthly fee. It’s just like music or movie streaming, but in this case, you download the games and run them from your device.
For PC and Xbox console users, there’s Xbox Game Pass, while PlayStation Now is the Sony console equivalent. Nintendo also has Switch Online for their consoles. EA Play, Ubisoft Plus and Prime Gaming are also options for PC players.
As you can see, there are tons of ways to game for less online. The only thing left is to get started.
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