If you’re like me, there are probably more than a few video games always on your wishlist. But video games prices aren’t always accommodating to those on a tight budget. I decided to take matters into my own hands and do some research on when you can get games at the best price.
When do video game prices drop? Video game prices can drop or go on sale within several weeks of release, or several years, depending upon their popularity and sales figures. A game that does poorly upon release typically has its price lowered quickly in an attempt to recover losses and encourage more sales.
While there isn’t an exact science to predicting when the price of a video game will go down, there are a few simple ways to tell when the price of a game will be lowered.
Predicting Video Game Price Drops
Video Game Deprecation Rate
Each of the games below were released in 2018 at a price of $60. Here are their prices halfway into 2019:
- God of War – $29.58
- Spider-Man PS4 – $35.00
- Red Dead Redemption II – $34.99
- Monster Hunter World – $30.00
- Far Cry 5 – $36.92
- Dragon Ball Fighter Z – $30.49
These games were highly anticipated and came from already successful franchises, but none the less, all of their prices were cut by almost half within just a year and a half later.
If you’re trying to figure out when the price of the game you’re looking to buy is going to decrease, there are a few questions you can ask to help:
How Popular is the Game?
When it comes to sales, these large developers have the advantage of having established a reputation for releasing quality games. They know that consumers will likely buy any game that they release, at least at the beginning.
It the weeks and months after a AAA title is released, I wouldn’t expect the price to go down. Even if the game flops, it will likely take at least half a year before any formal price drop is made.
Games released from smaller video game companies don’t normally have the advantage of huge marketing budgets. They’re more likely to get crafty with their sales structures in order to reach a broader audience.
What are the Price Patterns of Other Similar Games?
A great way to tell when a game’s price will drop is to examine the sales patterns of other similar titles. If the game is an RPG or open world game, find other recent games in those categories and start doing some research into their performance and when their prices were cut. You’ll more than likely see the same pattern with the game you’re interested in.
If the game you want is planning to have DLC, I can almost guarantee that within a year or so, they will release a $60 dollar version of the game that includes the DLC that was initially another $30 dollars or so when it came out. Keep your eyes open for patterns like this in the genre of game that you’re shopping for.
Is it in the Game Developer’s Best Interest?
All video games have different marketing plans. Games like Fortnite are advertised as free to play, but they count on players paying for all of the various add-ons that they’ve made available.
If the game you’re considering has an underwhelming release, but the game creators have tons of DLC and microtransactions in the game that they believe players will buy, it would be in their best interest to lower the initial cost in order to garnish more of those smaller sales.
If the game is like Grand Theft Auto V, or the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, those game companies know that they have a product that is in very high demand. It makes more sense for them to keep their prices at the normal $60 release price for as long as possible.
There are other games that fall into more of a grey area. In fact, I would say this category makes up most of the games that are released. They have a decent release, but consumer interest fades at a moderate rate, leading them ultimately to lower their prices in the hopes of driving more sales towards a $20 or $30 dollar DLC.
Why Do Video Game Prices Drop?
A video game’s price can go down for a variety of reasons, but here are some of the most common one:
- Audience Loses Interest
- Poor Sales Numbers Upon Release
- Upset or Dissatisfied Customers
Audience Loses Interest
Let’s be honest. Attention spans today can be incredibly short. New media is constantly being released to consumers, so video game developers have an uphill battle trying to hold the attention of their audience.
In the last 20 years, video game companies have made significant changes to their marketing and sales tactics. Back then, a video game was a one and done project. Once the game was shipped, that was it.
Today, with the advent of online technologies, video game developers are able to make changes to their core game long after it hits shelves around the world. This ability allows them to combat audience disinterest by releasing periodic downloadable content.
As interest for the core game starts to fade, a common tactic I’ve seen is that companies will slash the price of the initial game in half to get more players on board, and then offer additional paid downloadable content.
Poor Sales Numbers Upon Release
Poor sales can be devastating for a video game company. When a video game does badly upon release and no one wants to spend $60 dollars on the poorly reviewed game, the logical move for video game companies is to make the product less expensive so that anyone that is on the fence will dive in and purchase the product at the lower cost.
Upset or Dissatisfied Customers
Today, the united outcry of consumers has more weight than it ever has. When video games are being raked over the coals on Twitter and Youtube for under delivering on a promised in-game feature, game developers have to take notice.
One of the more recent examples of a situation like this was with the game No Man’s Sky, by Hello Games. the studio director, Sean Murray, made statements prior to the game’s release that it would feature online multiplayer, which is a major selling point for many consumers.
Upon release, fans were thoroughly disappointed to find that the game contained nothing resembling multiplayer. They were so upset, in fact, that they began calling for full refunds of their purchases, and Sony, Steam, and Amazon complied.
While they didn’t drop the price right away from $60, they didn’t eventually drop prices and release major updates to appease angry customers. All this said, a dissatisfied customer base can be a very strong reason for video game prices to quickly decrease.
How Long Should You Wait Before Buying a Video Game?
How long should you wait to purchase a video game so that it’s at its optimal price? My recommendation for the average time you should wait would be anywhere from one year to two years. If the game you’re wanting has dropped by this time, it might just be time to break open your piggy bank and hand over the money.
Some people might be completely okay with waiting a while to get the latest releases, and others might not. I’ve been to my fair share of midnight releases at GameStop, but I’ve also intentionally forgotten about a game for a couple of years so I could get it for $20 bucks online later on.
If you fall into the first category of gamer, here are the best options for getting newer video games at a lower price.
Options for Getting Video Games at a Lower Price
Here are some of my tried and true methods for getting new games at better prices:
- Utilize Memberships
- Buy Through Amazon
- Buy Games Used
- Always Compare Prices
- Rent Games or Borrow them from a Friend
If you’re into any kind of online gaming, then you likely already have a subscription with Playstation, Xbox, or Nintendo. While it is a kind of a pain to pay extra to play games online, these companies have sweetened the deal somewhat by providing lots of major titles at great prices in their online shops.
Buy Games Used
Even shortly after video games are released, there will always be people that blaze through them and then sell them right afterward.
If you keep your eyes open on platforms like Craigslist and Facebook marketplace, you’ll be able to find great deals from time to time. Just use caution and some good common sense when shopping for deals. If something is too good to be true, it probably is.
Always Compare Prices
You never know what major retailer might have lucked out with a special deal for a game that their competitors won’t be able to offer. Do some digging in Reddit or ask some friends if they’ve caught wind of any good deals.
Rent Games or Borrow them from a Friend
Okay, I know this article is technically about purchasing games, but sometimes the best option can be to just rent the game. This can be especially true of narrative-driven games that aren’t focused on continual online play.
When Bio-Shock Infinite came out, I got it from a Redbox, had a great time beating it in 3 days, and then returned it. The damage? Only like $4 bucks, and I still got to play the entire game.
If you prefer really taking your time, this probably isn’t the best choice for you. But if you don’t mind an expedited experience, this is the way to go.
Set Up Alerts
My last recommendation is to set up some kind of price alert via Google or Amazon or follow the game developer and videogame discount websites on social media. This way, if there is a cut in price, you’ll be one of the first to hear about it.
Thank you for reading! You can find more of my recent articles here.