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Saving the Game, and Your Wallet: Holiday gaming gift ideas

A glimpse of "Gears of War" - one of the reasons people keep buying games.Now comes the time of year when family and friends are


A glimpse of "Gears of War" - one of the reasons people keep buying games.Now comes the time of year when family and friends are wanting their favorite video games which probably means dipping into funds that might be a bit short. With video games popular as ever and an influx of family oriented games hitting the market, there are many ways that you can get them inexpensively. Here are a few tips that may stretch your holiday gaming dollar and leave a bit left over for you to get a game for yourself.

Sales: Many retailers this year are having big sales to make up for a slow year, this means a lot of good deals to be had. Some retailers like Wal-Mart are giving gift cards with game systems so you can pick up a system and use the cards to pick up a few games. Check the Sunday ads and be there early to get the best picks.

On-line Retail: There are many stores on-line, so choices abound. Sometimes these retailers include free shipping and gift cards like the big box stores. On-line retailers will offer great deals to get your buck and save you money so check out sites like Amazon, Overstock, etc.

Older Games: The current game systems like the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and the Nintendo Wii have been out long enough that game prices have come down. There are a lot of great titles in the $20 range. So if you're getting or giving a new system this year, you can get great games at great prices.

New Release Price Cuts: New game releases are top dollar, so sometimes it's best to wait a few months for the prices to drop and sometimes they even go on the clearance shelf. Retailers like to keep shelves stocked with new releases and with so many out during the holidays, it makes for wise shopping to wait a bit.

Game System Bundles: Stores like Costco are selling game systems with extra stuff like controllers, memory cards, and games. This can save you money, but it might not get you the stuff you want. However, you can sell or trade the stuff you don't want so it all works out with savings for you.

Buy Used: There are a few game stores in Bend like GameQuest (that's a shameless plug for my store) that sell used games at much cheaper prices than new. Some gamers go through new titles quickly and trade them off so you can get newer titles used with big savings to you. Most reputable stores offer a warranty on pre-played stuff so you can make a used purchase without worries.

Trade: If your wallet is just too thin, then you might go around the house and gather games, DVDs, music CDs, etc and take them down to your favorite game store and get credit or a gift card. Stores like GameQuest (plug again) let you trade stuff and put it on a gift card so you won't have to use your hard-earned cash and at the same time give that perfect gift that covers everything they want.

Older Video Game Systems: Systems like the Playstaion 2 are still hanging in there and can be purchased cheap, even new. A smart shopper can buy an older system for kids that are just starting out in gaming and get a system, controllers, games, etc. in the $100-$200 range.

Other Ideas: Online sites like eBay and can be a source for cheap game systems and games. This year, a lot of people are selling stuff to make up the difference this holiday season and video games are a big component. The only problem with buying video game stuff, especially game systems, is that they don't have warranties and some people will sell stuff that they know has problems. Use your instincts when buying this way and ask to see the item working before you purchase.


Economy Down, Game Sales Up?

This holiday year is going to be challenging for retailers and consumers alike. With a downturn in the economy, shoppers are going to be a bit more picky this year. However, it seems that video game sales escape the fate of other retail items. Despite the faltering economy, video game sales are up more than 40 percent from last year. Big games like the newest versions of Grand Theft Auto and Gears of War have brought millions of dollars to game developers and kept the video game industry in the green while other retail items like clothes, jewelry and cars are suffering big time.

Back in the 1930s during the Great Depression, people would flock to the local movie theater to escape the realities of harsh times and it seems they are doing that again today with video games. When going to the movies costs around 40 bucks for two people including tickets, popcorn, etc. more people are spending the same amount or less on a game that can give you many more hours of entertainment.

With all the options you have with gaming - buying used, trading and renting games - people have many cheap options to keep them entertained.

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