How to Game on a Budget

Reading How to Game on a Budget 5 minutes

Millions of people around the world enjoy a wide variety of games—be it call of duty, FIFA, Need for speed games— across different platforms, and it's an incredibly popular hobby. However, with the rising costs of new consoles, computers, and games, keeping up with the latest can quickly become an expensive hobby, and as an avid gamer on a tight budget, I've learned a few tricks over the years for how to enjoy gaming without breaking the bank.

With some smart shopping and a willingness to compromise, you can build a solid gaming setup for a fraction of what it would normally cost. Allow me to share with you some of the best tips you can use to game while on a budget.

1. Buy Used or Refurbished Hardware

The quickest way to slash costs is to buy used and refurbished hardware by checking classified ads, Craigslist, eBay, and thrift stores for deals on consoles and games. Accessories—such as controllers and headsets—can also frequently be found secondhand in great condition.

Many retailers also offer refurbished products at steep discounts, which are pre-owned items that have been professionally inspected and restored to like-new condition. Amazon, Newegg, and GameStop all carry an extensive catalog of refurbished gaming gear that looks and performs as if brand new.

2. Use Older Generation Consoles

While the latest PlayStation and Xbox may boast cutting-edge graphics and performance, using a prior-generation console like the PS3 or Xbox 360 can deliver hundreds of amazing game experiences at a fraction of the cost. These legacy systems can typically be found for under $100 in working condition, unlocking access to extensive game libraries containing thousands of titles across numerous genres and franchises to enjoy.

For example, I routinely play games on my PS3 Slim, which I scored at a garage sale for only $60. Provided you don't need the absolute latest visuals, the amount of high-quality entertainment value from these older consoles is truly unbeatable.

3. Wait for Game Price Drops

Let's face it—new video game releases often carry a steep price tag, nowadays routinely debuting at $59.99 USD or higher, and fortunately, with a little patience, significant price cuts tend to roll out within just a few months following launch.

Sites such as Slickdeals highlight many opportunities to score recently released games discounted at 25-50% off or more. And if you can resist the urge to always play the hottest new titles right away, opting for a back catalog allows you to take further advantage of game discounts and sales. Gaming subscription services, such as GameFly, are also a nice option to experience new releases through game rentals if you can't afford to buy.

4. Opt for a Budget Processor and Graphics Card

Many assume building a capable gaming PC requires dumping tons of cash into top-tier components, but in reality, you can build a very solid rig for under $600 if you choose budget-friendly parts. Will you be able to max out graphics and play on 4K? Probably not. But with some compromises, smooth 1080p gaming is very achievable.

For my last build, I chose an AMD Ryzen 5 processor and Radeon RX 570 graphics card rather than splurging. Paired with 16GB RAM and a solid power supply, I was able to build a gaming beast for under $500 that runs all of my favorite titles flawlessly. Although It won't win any benchmark prizes, it keeps me happily gaming for a fraction of the price.

5. Consider Free-to-Play Games

Finally, gamers on an ultra-tight budget should not overlook the vast selection of completely free-to-play titles available across PC, console and mobile. Epic hits like Fortnite, Call of Duty: Warzone, Apex Legends, and many others offer hundreds of hours of engaging gameplay without costing players a dime upfront.

Free-to-play games often monetize through cosmetic upgrades, battle passes, loot boxes and the like to customize your gaming experience optionally. But it's 100% possible to enjoy huge swaths of rich content in these games completely free of charge.


Although gaming can be a costly pastime, with the appropriate tactics, it doesn't have to break the bank. Focus on hunting for used gear deals, embracing older tech, exercising patience for price drops, building a budget PC, and playing free games, and you'll be surprised just how much gaming fun you can have without going over budget.
At the end of the day, gaming is meant to be fun—not about always having the latest expensive gear. If you stay flexible and keep your eye out for bargains, you can build a killer gaming setup that won't devastate your finances. What matters most is enjoying the amazing worlds and experiences games have to offer. With the right budget-friendly approach, happy and affordable gaming is totally achievable.