Computer gaming on a budget

For the average college student, money is often something they can never have enough of.

With textbooks, meal plans, and other necessary college fees, comes the worrying realization that a student’s participation in the realm of video gaming will diminish due to a lack of funds. After all, video games are infamously pricey;  top shelf titles usually start at as much as $60, sometimes more for “Deluxe” or “Collector’s” editions.

This doesn’t have to be the end of a students lifestyle as a modern-age gamer. There exists multiple different ways to keep a finger on the pulse of the ever-improving world of video gaming. Since many students are on their laptops constantly, computer gaming is an excellent way to save dash. Computer gaming on a budget involves three categories: “free to play”, “steam “sales”, and commercial deals.

Commercial deals are perhaps the most well-known  ways to purchase discounted games. The bargain bins at Gamestop, Best Buy, and Target usually have a slew of low-priced computer games — although, more often than not, the games are so old that their rock-bottom price is the only way publishers to turn a profit off of them. There exist other —  and arguably better — ways to get a fix of fun.

“Free to play” games are online games that don’t cost anything more than a website registration fee to play. Flash games that utilize web browser architecture to construct an artificial gaming environment, subscriptionless online games, even matchmaking websites for Chess all promise easily picked up and quickly droppable sources of computer gaming.

“Free to play” games also include massive online role-playing games, which do not require a monthly subscription fee. While games like “World of Warcraft” and “EVE Online” require a monthly subscription fee of $15 to continue to play,  games like “Guild Wars 2” require no fee — just the initial purchase of the game. This is not to say that the quality of “free to play” games take a dive; on the contrary, they’re  often as detailed and well-done as subscription-based titles.

“Team Fortress 2”, for example, is a  multiplayer online first-person shooter game that has been popular with fans for many years. Though the quality “Team Fortress 2” quality surpasses some other modern titles, the game has been free to play for a few months now, using optional microtransactions to allow purchasing of items that can be found or traded for in-game. “League of Legends”, a multiplayer online competitive role-playing game, is another example of this; the game is free to play but allows purchases of items and characters in exchange for real life money.

Playing”Team Fortress 2” requires a Steam account, which is also a free service. Steam is the brainchild of game developer company Valve Entertainment, the legendary creators of the Half-Life and Counter-Strike series of games. Steam serves as both a social networking platform for gamers and as an avenue for potentially free or very cheap games. Games like “Team Fortress 2” and many other titles adorn the pages of Steam’s thousand title catalogue.

During certain holidays, the now legendary Steam sales have become legendary. With rotating discounts up to 80%, the Steam Holiday Sale that occurs in summer and during the winter holidays promises high-grade titles at prices that are seen rarely anywhere else.

For computer gamers, there exists many inexpensive options for gaming. Whether free online games or insanely cheap titles catch your fancy, Steam and the legions of online gaming websites that are viewable with a simple Google search can breath a lot of fun into any student’s life.

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