Digital gaming is riding high on a wave of global popularity right now. With so many gaming platforms and genres to choose from, there’s truly something out there for everyone.
While it may seem like a prohibitively expensive pastime, with a bit of creative thinking, you can get your gaming on without having to invest too much. From the latest bonus offers available at iGaming specialists like Oddschecker to affordable gaming equipment, read on to discover our budget-friendly guide to digital gaming.
The Global Gaming Boom
Gaming is currently one of the world’s most popular mediums for home entertainment. The industry is bigger than movies and music streaming combined, having undergone staggering growth since the turn of the decade. In fact, gaming is now so popular that the industry could well be worth $219 billion by 2024, according to market research firm Newzoo.
The growth in the popularity of gaming has significantly altered its accessibility too. With the vast majority of gaming activities now being web-based, whether on traditional gaming platforms or on smartphones and tablets, many of the barriers to entry that used to exist before the digital revolution have since dissolved.
Of course, gaming technologies are continually advancing, leading to next-generation consoles, virtual reality gaming and eSports, but for the layman, it’s super easy and super affordable to get started with gaming.
Firstly, let’s tackle the gaming equipment that you’ll need. This will be the biggest purchase you make, so there are a few things to take into consideration:
- Cost – What’s your realistic budget for how much you can afford to spend?
- Access to existing equipment – Do you have a PC at home already?
- Usage – How often are you likely to be able to play games?
Consoles are more expensive the newer they are, so if you go back a few years, you can pick up a fully-functional machine at a relatively low price. On the other hand, if you already have a PC at home, by upgrading the graphics card, you could turn it into a perfectly serviceable gaming PC.
You also need to think about how often you’ll be gaming and the type of games that you’d like to play. If you see gaming as more of an occasional hobby, an earlier console will do you just fine. However, if having access to a wider library of games is more important, going down the PC route will more likely suit you.
As for the type of consoles to look out for, the Xbox 360 Slim has a vast library of games and is a lot more affordable than newer generations. The Nintendo 3DS is a similar, comparable machine if you’re a fan of the iconic gaming manufacturer. If, on the other hand, this is your first foray into gaming, you could even go as far back as picking up a second-hand PS2, which to this day still has one of the best gaming libraries of any modern-day console.
Where to find Affordable Games
For older consoles, your best bet for finding affordable games is to check online marketplaces and local listings pages such as CraigsList and Gumtree. The Xbox 360 is still supported online, but only until autumn 2022, so this is something to take into consideration too.
When it comes to gaming on the PC, however, there’s plenty of value to be found. While you can take out monthly subscriptions to cloud gaming services, such as Google Stadia, there’s also a wealth of free games to be discovered if you know where to hunt for them.
Good Ol Games – GOG.com and Itch.io are just two online gaming platforms that specialise in gaming classics and hard-to-find indie titles. Not only are games available to purchase on these two platforms very affordable, but they also provide a selection of games that are completely free to play.
Even major gaming developers like Ubisoft and Epic Games have a number of free titles that you can get your hands on, and yes, that includes the ubiquitous Fortnite! Staple games like World of Warcraft, meanwhile, are free to play online until you reach a more expert level — don’t worry, that may take you some time to achieve!
For console gamers with devices that are still supported for online play, Microsoft’s Xbox Live (and Xbox Live Gold for 360 players) and Sony’s PlayStation Plus start are available on a monthly subscription basis. The higher the tier, the more freebies you’ll be able to access, but even basic level memberships offer decent value for money — especially if you’ll be playing on an ad hoc basis and don’t necessarily need to get your hands on the latest releases the moment they come into the market.
Bonuses and Loyalty Programmes
A useful tip for gaming on a budget is to look out for bonus offers and sign-up for loyalty rewards. Plenty of gaming platforms across the genres provide incentives to regular gamers, which you can use to spend on purchasing new games or unlock other valuable rewards.
For example, if you’re an Xbox player, make sure you sign up for the Microsoft Rewards program. This will give you loyalty points just for playing your favourite games on the console, but you’ll also earn additional points for other desktop tasks you might complete, such as Bing searches or viewing content through third-party apps.
Every reputable iGaming platform will offer bonus offers and VIP/rewards schemes to new and existing customers. Welcome bonuses, which typically include a match bonus on your first deposit (up to 100%) and free online slot spins, can be a good way to try online casino platforms. Many iGaming providers also run periodical bonuses for existing customers, which can take the form of cashback or even free games.
Steam, meanwhile, offers an interesting take on classic trading cards. With every game you play on the platform, you’ll be able to collect Steam trading cards that you can then sell in the Community Marketplace and put your earnings towards new games.