There are two kinds of gamers. Some people invest heavily into one game, often competitive free-to-play titles like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Fortnite, or Call of Duty: Warzone. Others play a whole slew of games, trying out new titles and genres all the time. The latter costs a bit more money, but don't worry: you can build up a massive library of games without spending an arm and a leg. Here are a few ways to save money as you play.
Shop the sales—at multiple stores
The regularity of game sales is one of the best parts of PC gaming. Prices tend to drop faster, harder, and more often on PC than other platforms, and with so much competition between online storefronts, prices have only gotten better. Instead of just one summer sale, Steam now has big sales every season, with a few themed sales peppered throughout the year for good measure. Epic Games has regular sales as well, often with coupons that take even more off the sale price. And stores like Gamesplanet have their own sales alongside near-constant discounts, with games that activate on Steam. And if you own an ROG product, you can sign up for ROG VIP and take an extra few bucks off games at Gamesplanet, making for an often unbeatable price. You can see the latest ROG VIP deals right in Armoury Crate by clicking on the Featured tab.
Sites like IsThereAnyDeal.com are a great way to track games you're interested in, allowing you to set custom notifications when a game drops to a certain price. And while this sometimes means your games will be split across multiple launchers, GOG Galaxy can combine them all into one, unified library that's beautiful to browse.
Buy games when you plan to play them, not before
So you know about sales, but here's the real secret: stop loading up on games during every sale. If there were only one big sale per year, this might be a decent strategy, but with so many storefronts and so many sales per year, it almost never makes sense to "stock up" during a sale. Instead, just buy the couple of games you actually plan to play right now. Not games you'll play soon, not "maybe one day," but games you're going to play next.
Chances are you aren't going to have time to play 20 games in between this sale and the next one in three months—so don't waste money on a game that might be cheaper in a year when you actually get around to playing it. (Or worse, you buy it and it appears on PC Game Pass before you fire it up for the first time.) If you aren't sure how long it'll take to make it through your next batch of games, HowLongToBeat.com is a great resource that'll tell you how many hours it takes to complete the main story, the main and side missions, or the main game plus DLC.
Remember: Quality over quantity
Image source: Gamesplanet
Now, you may be tempted to snatch up as many games as humanly possible to build a collection worthy of a digital hoarder. But remember that a great game at full price is better than two mediocre games at half price. Do you want to play games that will wow you and stick in your mind long after the credits roll? Or just something to pass the time? Don't forget older games, either—whether we're talking retro classics like the Castlevania Anniversary Collection or lesser-known gems from a few years ago like Spec Ops: The Line, you can find plenty of truly excellent games at incredibly low prices.
Those hour counters can come in handy here, too. If HowLongToBeat.com says you can spend 100 hours getting lost in a new open-world masterpiece like Elden Ring, it can still cost you less in the long run than a 6-hour jaunt that was half the price. It's not just about the price tag—it's about the hours-to-dollars ratio and the overall quality that determine a game's true value. One game may cost you $10 per hour until you're bored of it, while another may cost pennies per hour.
Give yourself some credit
Many game stores offer ways to add a few shekels to your account that can further discount the games you buy. Steam, for example, gives you digital "trading cards" as you play games, which you can sell in the Community Market for a few cents apiece—which, if you've played a lot of games over the years, can add up fast. You might even have some cosmetics or other in-game items that can be sold on Steam's market for more, netting you a pretty penny for a game you've moved on from.
Other stores might have different benefits. Microsoft's Rewards program gives you points for completing "Quests" like searching on Bing, playing a game on Game Pass, or completing certain challenges in specific games. You can then trade in those points for credits on, say, your next month of Game Pass. Epic Games often gives out credit during sales or for joining their mailing list, and discounted gift cards abound if you keep an eye out for sales. All those little discounts stack up over time!
Make the most of your subscriptions
We've said it before, and we'll say it again: Game Pass may be the best deal in PC gaming right now. With a growing library that seems to get better quality games every year, $9.99 a month is a paltry price to pay for all the day-one launches, AAA masterworks, and indie gems available on the platform. If you're on the fence, do the math: if you play a few games at launch every year, you're almost guaranteed to make your money back (and then some). If you're more of a patient gamer and tend to play games later in their lifecycles, Game Pass can still be a great value—you just need a few more games per year to make the cost worthwhile (six $20 games rather than two $60 games).
Keep in mind that there's more value in Game Pass than just the games themselves, too: Game Pass offers other perks like cloud streaming (for Ultimate subscribers), free DLC, occasional TV shows, and discoverability that might help you find your next favorite game—in places you'd never otherwise look. That's worth its weight in gold. Other subscriptions like EA Play Pro, Ubisoft+, and Google Play Pass (for mobile gamers) are well worth looking at as well, even if you only keep the subscription for a few months at a time when there are a few games you want to play on the service.
Grab as many free games as you can
All of the above tips are extremely important. But forget them for a second: because all of that "quality over quantity" stuff goes out the window when a game drops in price to $0.
Free games are everywhere these days. Steam has plenty, though they aren't easily browsable by price, so you may have to do some digging to find them. Epic Games gives away at least one free game every week, while GOG offers a number of free classic PC games you can download and play anytime, including the first Witcher game if you download the aforementioned GOG Galaxy launcher. If you're an Amazon Prime subscriber, Prime Gaming also gives away free games every month, and individual publishers like Ubisoft often give away some of their classics through their launcher. Others, like Bethesda, have made classic games like The Elder Scrolls: Arena and Daggerfall permanently free, so you can experience the legacy continued by their modern titles. Some publishers may even hold "free weekends" where a certain game is free to play for a limited time, so if you can marathon it in three days, you're golden.
Be sure to sign up for ROG Elite as well, while you're at it—by registering your ROG products and doing other activities like watching our Twitch streams, you can earn points that build up to a free game. Oh, and we regularly give away game keys on our stream, too, so it's always worth tuning in. See you on the battlefield.