How to: Five tips for cheaper digital downloads

Odds are you don’t have a ton of cash to throw around. I know that I don’t. So, let’s talk about stretching your Windows gaming dollar a bit further.

There’s actually quite a number of ways, but let’s look at a simple set of tips for cheaper digital downloads.

Firstly, get yourself signed up for Valve’s Steam, Stardock’s Impulse, and Gog.com. Costs you nothing, takes just a few minutes each.

1. Don’t pass over older games

Older games may not be new games, but they were new games in their day. Games get cheaper pretty rapidly. Patience = savings. There’s plenty of gaming enjoyment to be had, and many of them will probably run a whole lot faster on your current gaming system, as opposed to the one you had when they first came out. Also, you’re no longer waiting for patches; all the patches there are going to be are probably included.

2. Patience

If a game, particularly one of the older titles appears on one of the aforementioned digital download services, wait. The odds are, it will appear on two or on all three, and it will likely be cheaper on one of them than on the others. Which brings us to,

3. Comparison shop

Don’t buy without checking out the prices between the services, or you’re doing yourself a disservice right there. And don’t ever pay as much or more as the shelf-price for your digital download. Really.

No, you are not ‘paying for convenience’, that’s a convenient fiction for publishers gouging you for the price of a box, a disk, manuals, fabrication, disk-based DRM and so on (which the publisher doesn’t have to pay for) plus a little something extra for their next huge annual bonus. Sometimes it is a whole lot of something extra. If it isn’t noticeably cheaper, then you’re being ripped off. Bide your time.

4. Watch for specials

Steam, Impulse and Gog.com all do specials and bundles. There are often specials every week. Ideally use an RSS reader, to keep up with the news, and you won’t miss a special. The specials are usually pretty good. Even a fairly average title can provide 5 or 10 dollars worth of entertainment – though it is true that a few fail to meet that lofty goal.

Most email software has RSS/ATOM news-readers built in. Or you can always go with Google Reader.

Here are the three newsfeeds you want:

5. Enjoy the games!

Because that’s what it’s really all about.