Friday, 8 August 2014

Whiskey Reviews: Gaming On The Cheap Part 2 - Cheap Games

Disclaimer: Before we begin I have to point out that lower down the article there's a link to a referral/store system that if used will result in Whiskey Reviews getting a little bit of money. This article is not an advertisement for that. If this bothers you, please leave a comment and future content of this type will be swiftly booted out the door never to return. Thank you for your patience, not go enjoy the article!

In part one we looked at ways to game for absolutely nothing at all and uncovered a surprisingly large amount of quality games both new and old to enjoy but what if you're pining over those games that sit on the shelf for 40 quid or have a huge Steam wishlist of the most recent releases? Well, you might still be shit out of luck but there's a few ways to improve your chances.



Possibly the largest chance to save a huge amount of cash comes twice a year in the form of the Steam summer and winter sales. These two events usually run for a couple of weeks each and offer a great chance to grab the latest and greatest games for a hefty discount. You can easily expect to save between 50-80% on most big name games, often with a chance to pick up a publisher or developers entire catalogue at a big discount, so even if you already own one or two of their games it can sometimes be beneficial to consider buying the bundles - just be sure to do the math first so you save as much as possible.
The Steam sales are also an excellent time to grab DLC packs as throughout each sale almost all DLC goes on a huge discount, especially if the game is on sale too. So hold off on that weapon pack or extra few missions and chances are you'll get them for a better price.

In addition to the Steam winter and summer sales you've also got Steams regular sales. There's a single title flash sale that happens every single day at 6PM GMT (usually about 10-15 minutes late due to server load, etc) that doesn't always have the best  games in, but the discount can be good enough that if you're curious it won't be such an issue if the game isn't everything you hoped for.
Happening twice weekly is the midweek madness (running tuesday through thursday) and weekend deal (running friday through monday) in these there's usually one game but sometimes a bundle but not at such a great discount. At the time of writing the weekend deal is Transistor at 33% off, which is a decent compromise of excellent game and moderate discount. If you don't have the willpower to wait for the summer or winter sales these two deals can be a great way to pick up a quality game without the wait. In addition to this, there's sometimes two weekend deals running at the same time, so it's worth clicking the little next button under the ad on the Steam store.
Finally we have the weekly Steam sale - starting every monday at 6PM GMT this consists of about 20 games of varying quality all discounted for the entire week. In my experience there's usually at least one or two hidden gems or known good games in each monday sale but by and large the games here aren't so great. Still, it doesn't cost anything to have a look and you might be surprised at what you'll find.

Time to move away from Steam somewhat and look at some other excellent sources of cheap games.

Humble Bundle
The Humble Bundle, probably the most prestigious bundle site and by far the one with the best bundles week in and week out. The way it all works is there's a basic bundle, usually the lions share, where you pay what you want and if you match or beat the average paid you get a couple of extras. Sometimes there's a minimum price put on extras, like $15 to get everything plus two extra games for example. It's all clearly marked on the site so you can tell what you're getting for what you pay.
Any games you buy on Humble Bundle are available for download from the Humble Bundle site as well as usually coming with Steam keys so you can tie the games to your Steam account. In addition to this, you can always give away your games by clicking a little present icon and sharing the link it generates with a friend so you can be generous with your duplicates while still getting games cheap.
Humble Bundle don't just cover PC games, there's also android bundles and books but lets take a look at each thing they do separately;
Humble Bundle - the bundle is a bi-weekly event that's the main draw, usually featuring big name games in a pay what you want system. These bundles tend to reset at 7PM GMT every other tuesday.
Humble Weekly Sale - every single week there's a bundle, usually smaller than the main bundle but still extremely generous. These tend to feature indie games or more closely themed packs. These reset every week at 7PM thursdays.
Humble Books Bundle - various formats of books, audiobooks, comics and such are bundled together in a theme (e.g. sci-fi, Transformers, Dynamite comics, etc) and priced in tiers, with the lowest being a pay what you want system. These often have previews or free books/comics included that sometimes change each day or two. This bundle resets at 7PM GMT on wednesdays.
Insert-name-here Bundles - often bundles of comics and the like but these bundles are for a specific topic and often feature incredible amounts of content and sometimes (rarely) physical goods like t-shirts and figures. At the time of writing it's The Walking Dead, with a huge amount of issues and other comics Kirkman has worked on as well as generously priced physical items.
Humble Store - the Humble Store is a permanent fixture and their prices are more often than not slashed for games both new and old. Only the really big name games will be sold at full price usually and a little digging can often turn up recent bundles that've been popular. Well worth digging through every week or two to see what's on sale.
Humble Flash Sale - every monday at 7PM GMT for 24 hours there's the flash sale, it's basically another bundle that only runs for 24 hours. I personally haven't bought many of these but like everything else on Humble Bundle there's a LOT of value and quality here and it shouldn't be missed.

If all that doesn't float your boat, Humble Bundle always supports charities with their bundles, and at the payment section you can determine how much of your money goes to the developers, humble and charities with a bunch of sliders so you can feel good while buying games.

Bundle Stars
I only recently discovered this site but they have a healthy selection of themed bundles for insanely low prices. You don't get to pay what you want but more often than not you'll be getting 5-8 games for about £2. I've found the quality of the games they offer vary wildly but their store has a huge selection of quality game bundles if you have a dig through.
As with Humble Bundle you get Steam keys for all your games too.

Green Man Gaming
Not always the best value for money, but if you're looking to pre-order or buy the latest releases at a discount GMG often has 10-20% off those. Sometimes you can find a great deal on only moderately aged games too. You'll need a Steam account for a lot of your purchases on there but lets face it, you probably already have one.
GMG also offer Xbox and Playstation games, including pre-owned, the latter of which can be a source of good quality boxed disk copies of console games for a worthwhile price. This site is one of the best for picking up the latest generation of console games on the cheap.

Good Old Games
GOG.com is one of my favourite sources for old and new games. They rework the old games, either with patches or pre-configured Dosbox installs to provide a hassle free way to play games not compatible with modern hardware and operating systems. They get a lot of new indie releases and have recently branched out to support Linux too.
Every friday there's a weekend deal that has a generous selection of games, often from a particular dev or publisher (Interplay, at the time of writing) at a discount. Typically the more games in the pack you buy the bigger the discount and sometimes even if you only want a handful of the games it can be cheaper to buy the whole bundle.
There's also GOG's gem promos which run every week and promote a single game along with a discount on its price, so it's worth keeping an eye on that news feed on the right side each time you visit.
Finally we have GOGs huge annual sales, their summer sale runs with timed bundles and flash sales that usually refresh every 8-10 hours and often repeat on a timed offset so if you miss one while you're sleeping it'll come back up in the afternoon a couple of days later. It's worth visiting a couple of times a day during these sales to keep an eye on what's going cheap as it's not just old games that get big discounts in these events.
With the prices being in dollars instead of pounds sterling you can save a bunch anyway, even at regular prices so GOG can be an excellent source of cheapo gaming all the time. Additionally, they're the only source I know of that sells the Neverwinter Nights 2 Mysteries Of Westgate expansion as part of the NWN2 bundle.
Best of all, it's all DRM free so if you want you can stick the installers on a DVD or USB drive and keep them forever and they'll keep on working.

Groupee
Another bundle site, the quality varies a lot and there's a minimum $1.50 purchase but you're still paying only 50 cents for a game that'd be ten quid otherwise. Comes with Steam keys and some Desura keys though it can vary from bundle to bundle.

Savy Gamer
Very much British focused and you'll often have to jump through hoops to get the discounts but their advice is sound and the deals current. They don't sell games themselves but have a constant feed of ways to save money, usually by following a couple of quick (or not so quick) steps. Well worth a look if you don't mind a bit of faffing about to save some cash.

G2A
An online store that lets users set up their own account where referrals net them a share of the profits if someone buys something after using their referral link. The store can have some good bargains on things like MMO time cards or Xbox Live subscription cards. Whiskey Reviews even has an account on there so if you feel like supporting the blog you can buy something with our referral link.

ShopTo
A UK and Brazilian store that runs the occasional sale. In addition you earn a generous amount of store credit and discounts by being a regular customer. They also do an excellent line of things like MMO time cards, Xbox Live subscriptions, PSN wallet cards and Nintendo Store cards at a hefty discount if you buy the version where they add the code to your account instead of mailing you the physical card.

Xbox Live: Games With Gold
If you're an avid Xbox 360 or Xbox One gamer, having a Gold subscription means you get a selection of discounts and better yet, 2 games a month (though only for that month) free of charge. If you're already a subscriber to play online this is a nice little bonus and if you're not the kind of person who buys console games very often it can be a great way to get your mitts on 24 games a year for the price of one (a years Xbox Live subscription cost is about equal to a single new Xbox One game price).
Of course the games vary in quality and you might not always get something you want since you don't get to choose but it's still a good source of free games.
I think the Playstation Network runs something similar but I haven't had a modern Playstation console in years so I can't verify the quality or prices right now.