The modern games industry is the largest and most lucrative media sector in the world today, with a net worth of over $220 billion – five times larger than the film industry. Yet some suggest the market may be a victim of its own success, with larger productions and more powerful hardware translating to steadily increasing costs for consumers. The latest, ninth generation of consoles retail for over $500 today, and flagship games have risen to an RRP of $70. But there’s more to the industry than the latest Call of Duty title. From accessible offers on leading platforms in the iGaming space, to the rise of the free-to-play live service game, there are more options than ever before for the player looking to access top tier gaming on a budget.
Let’s take a look at some of the best of these options below.
A decade ago, the idea of a service that could provide a ‘Netflix for games’ was still considered the province of science fiction, but not so today. Cloud gaming services come in many sizes and shapes, but the aim is that they offer accessibility and the opportunity to play games locally on hardware that would never usually be able to on its own.
Cloud gaming gives players the opportunity to play cutting edge triple-A games on devices such as lower-end PCs, old laptops, and budget smartphones, provided they can connect to the internet. Most big tech names are steadily building out their cloud gaming offerings, with even Netflix said to be testing the waters of this tech.
But to date, the most consistent and polished is Xbox Cloud Gaming, which gives players access to hundreds of Xbox games to play on-demand in exchange for a monthly subscription.
Games belonging to the free-to-play category represent amazing value. Popular titles like Fortnite, Call of Duty: Warzone and PUBG give gamers unrestricted access to their features, free of charge. This is only possible because these titles are maintained and supported by the revenue they make from selling microtransactions.
However, unlike play-to-win or freemium games, these transactions do not confer an in-game advantage on those who purchase them. Rather, they’re focused on giving players customization options for their characters.
This lets those who want to invest in the game to do so, without free players being penalized. This model also has the added benefit of making these titles very popular, meaning there’s always going to be plenty of people online whenever you want a game.
The internet is home to many things, and among them, many gameplay options. Classic websites such as Newgrounds, which grew in prominence as an indie creator directory of Macromedia Flash games in the early 00s, are still going strong, though now serving as a home to equivalent HTML5 titles.
Elsewhere, Facebook’s own instant games service offers a huge number of mini-games that can be played with your friends right from within the website, app or even on Facebook Messenger. From Words with Friends to 8 Ball Pool, there are many deceptively simple and endlessly entertaining games to explore there.
Finally, among Google Chrome’s extensions library you will find a huge number of free game web-apps, with award winning productions like Bastion able to be enjoyed free of charge.
One of the simplest ways to get a good deal on a new game is to pay attention to when your chosen platform is hosting sales. These often come at key points in the year, such as after Christmas and around the time that gaming expo E3 is hosted – around mid June.
Scanning the offers available at these times can result in savings of up to 50% on leading titles, and even special deals with discounts going as high as 75%.
Gaming websites and YouTube channels also consistently update which games are on sale at any one time, so it’s always a good idea to regularly check in with these resources as you may find yourself being in a position to catch a huge bargain.