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Recently, we polled more than 2,000 of our readers to learn more about their gaming habits, and we discovered that the vast majority of you are willing to spend $60 on a single video game title. At that price point, many of you must be opting to buy hotly-anticipated games the moment they hit the shelves — which frequently means paying full price. But in reality, even the most popular games see discounts at multiple stages of their release.
To find out exactly how much you can save and when, we combed through the dealnews archives and tracked the video game deals for a handful of the most hyped releases from years past. And as it turns out, you can start saving money before your game of choice even makes it to stores. (Which is good news to all of you who are "hotly anticipating" Halo 4 and Bioshock Infinite!)
There are three stages in the game product cycle that we'd like to address (after the infographic), beginning with preorders.
Think you have to wait months to get a couple of bucks off a new video game? Think again! According to our research, it's become de rigueur for merchants to either slice the price before release — we've seen 10% to 25% off on preorders — or throw in some bonus cash in the form of a store gift card.
Sometimes you get both the discount and bonus cash, and then it's truly a day to celebrate. For example, before it was released, we saw Bioshock 2 for PlayStation 3 for $53 (12% off) bundled with a $10 Amazon gift card. If the store offering the cash is one you frequent (like Amazon, probably), then the bonus is as good as cash anyway.
Though it's better to preorder (and hopefully get a discount on the game, as well as a gift card) than to buy on the day of release, five out of six console titles we researched saw dollar-off deals within the first two days of being release. (Fallout 3 was the holdout, making new game deal-hunters wait a whole month before seeing a discount.) Conversely on the PC side of deals, five of the games we researched took one to three months for the first deals to show up. (Fallout 3, again, was the outlier, but this time offered a quicker a deal, within two days of its release.)
So even if you miss out on one of the aforementioned preorder deals, you can still score a discount shortly after a game becomes available. Waiting just a day or two for a deal isn't a long wait at all.
But how long does one have to wait to get a good deal? According to our numbers, popular titles hit the sub-$20 mark starting around five months after their releases. However, the more popular the title is, the longer you may have to wait. Arkham Asylum for consoles took over a year to drop below $20, while Fallout 3 for PC took almost two years to drop that low.
Reading this article, you might be wondering, with so many / frequent deals floating around, is it even possible to pay list price if you wanted to? It's important to keep in mind that these numbers were drawn from the price lows we've seen, so they don't necessarily reflect a continuous line of uninterrupted deals.
So, yes, paying full price can be done — but it can also be easily avoided. Work the system to your benefit and look for a great preorder bargain. If you miss it, wait a couple days for another good deal to come around. And if you're not in any rush, start seeking out the sub-$20 deals around the 5-month mark.
Ready to put this information to use? Set up an email alert now for the video game of your choice, so you'll be notified the second deals for that item hit our site. And for more price trend information, check out our consumer shopping research page.
Front page photo credit: Treadly and Me