Are video games frugal?

When people find out that my husband and I play video games, most of them say “Well, that’s not very frugal!” Actually, it’s more frugal than you think or at least it can be.

This week, Bethesda released Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. This is a role-playing game, which because it is a new release we paid $59.99 for. Yes, I know 60 bucks is a week’s worth of groceries in our house. Yes, I know $60 is the price of three pairs of jeans. There are a lot of things $60 could buy. Sixty dollars is also the price of a decent dinner out. Sixty dollars is two trips to the movies. Sixty dollars is a night out playing pool and having a few drinks.

A $60 video game like Skyrim is hundreds of hours of play time over the next six months to a year in our house. The last game my husband purchased was Fallout 3: New Vegas (another RPG) which he played for approximately four months. We purchased the game used for about $20. Now when I think about all the things my husband could be out doing on a Friday night (things I will not mention because I try to keep things clean) and the money he could be spending, I’m pretty cool with video games.

To make things more frugal, we generally purchase games used and trade in old games toward the purchase of new ones. Skyrim is the first game in a long time that we have purchased new when it first came out. Most games we purchase are $20 or less and we only purchase 3 or 4 games a year. After trade-in credits, we probably spend about $100 a year on games. That’s about the price of a monthly Netflix streaming subscription. It’s much less than cable or going to the movies once a month.

Most of the games we play together, switching back and forth. We laugh together and make silly comments while we play. Many of the games we play have great stories and require you to make decisions and figure out puzzles. They require strategy and thought. Sometimes you even have to do math! Oh the horror!

The best thing about video games? They get my husband to do laundry! What is better than that?

P.S. If you are trying to decide if you should get Skyrim, you should. It’s awesome. We are having so much fun playing it.

Quicktip: Sports Video Games

We don’t buy a lot of video games in our house. It just seems like there isn’t a whole lot out there that we’d like to play. There is one line of games that my husband loves: Madden Football. You can tell it’s preseason because I keep waking up on the weekends to find him playing Madden 2008. Last year he decided to forgo buying Madden 09 in order to wait until Madden 2010 came out. But he’s not going to buy Madden 2010. Instead he’s going to buy a used copy of Madden 09. Once the new game comes out, last year’s version plummits in price. We can get the version for the Wii for about $10. I’m going to try to get it off SwapTree first but I’m willing to pay $10 for a game I know he’s going to play a lot for a year.

So before buying this year’s soccer, hockey, football, basketball or cricket game (are there even cricket video games?), check out the prices for last year’s used version. Huge savings! It might also be a good time to stock up for Christmas. People generally turn in last year’s version for credit when the new version comes out so there will be lots of copies for sale, ergo lower price.