Before you go. Where to buy used pc games

Few of the stores selling used games have resisted the temptation to branch out and stock up on new titles. One that isn’t there is Lukie Games, which sells consoles, accessories, and games. Using the example above for Call of Duty: Black Ops III on PS3, by purchasing this title from Lukie Games, you would earn $ 24.97.

How to Buy Used Games Online to Save Money

Games are expensive and no one can afford to buy all the latest releases at full price. Here are the best ways to pick up your used games for a fraction of the cost.

Games are expensive, which is an unfortunate fact. Whether you’re a PC or console gamer, getting your games reasonably priced – as opposed to an inflated bonus on launch day – is always important. But here it is: in a good year, you can’t buy every top game on release day and play it.

Therefore, it is worth buying strategically, perhaps one or two titles, and choose the rest a bit later. After all, there is simply no financial reason for you to own a game that you have never played. But where do you find the games you missed?

image Credit: Peerawit via Shutterstock

The answer, of course, is the web. By looking at the relevant sites and markets, you’ll be able to grab the top titles you missed a few months ago for a much lower price than the original price.

The Obvious Choices: eBay and Amazon

If you haven’t checked out eBay or Amazon yet, now’s the time. It is surprising how low prices can get from these online stores, often due to a lack of interest.

As of this writing, 2015’s Call of Duty: Black Ops III for PlayStation 3 was selling on eBay for just £ 3.72 (around $ 5) 23 minutes before the auction closed. In the meantime, purchasing the same game you use on Amazon would set you back $ 13 (or just $ 400.90 from third-party sellers). While both are cheaper than the standard $ 20 price tag for the legacy game (with a $ 59.99 launch price), the clear winner is you.

The main rule here is to shop between two stores. Some games can be picked up on Amazon or eBay for as little as a few dollars without the challenge of winning an auction (although sniper tools can help here). It is also important not to rush to find the desired game. It can be extremely popular in some weeks (perhaps inspired by a sequel, movie union, or the like), while in others you may be the sole bidder or buyer. Save money by taking your time until you are sure the price matches your expectations for the title.

Indeed, there’s a good chance you both have a good collection of games. Swapping titles for a few weeks so you both have a chance to play the same games makes sense. You can even extend the swap between three or more friends for even more fun!

The Most Popular PC Games Through the Years

  • 2020: Fall Guys (10,000,000 copies)
  • 2019: satisfactory (1,300,000 copies)
  • 2018: Rdza (9,000,000 copies)
  • 2017: PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (42,000,000 copies)
  • 2016: Dark Souls III (3,300,000 copies)
  • 2015: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (12,000,000 copies)
  • 2014: Dark Souls II (2,700,000 copies)
  • 2013: ARMA 3 (5,500,000 copies)
  • 2012: Diablo III (20,000,000 copies)
  • 2011: Minecraft (33,000,000 copies)
  • 2010: Civilization V (8,000,000 copies)
  • 2009: The Sims 3 (7,000,000 copies)
  • 2008: Spore (2,000,000 copies)
  • 2007: Crysis (3,000,000 copies)
  • 2006: Garry’s Mod (20,000,000 copies)
  • 2005: Guild Wars (6,000,000 copies)
  • 2004: World of Warcraft (14,000,000 copies)
  • 2003: SimCity 4 (2,000,000 copies)
  • 2002: Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos (3,000,000 copies)
  • 2001: Civilization III (2,000,000 copies)
  • 2000: The Sims (11,000,000 copies)
  • 1999: RollerCoaster Tycoon (4,000,000 copies)
  • 1998: StarCraft (11,000,000 copies)
  • 1997: Riven (4,000,000 copies)
  • 1996: Command & Conquer: Red Alert (3,000,000 copies)
  • 1995: Command & Conquer (3,000,000 copies)
  • 1994: Amusement park (3,000,000 copies)
  • 1993: Myst (6,000,000 copies)

Myst, which was released by Broderbund in 1993, is considered one of the best PC games of all time. The puzzle game has been praised for years for its interesting plot and unique style of play. It has been one of the best-selling PC games of all time for many years, and has been updated and re-released many times.

One of the best PC games of 2020 was Fall Guys, which has sold over 10,000,000 copies. In this Battle Royale style game, players guide colorful characters through a series of challenges and obstacles. Up to 60 players can play against each other and the game has many seasonal updates.

Video game maker Maxis has several PC games on its bestseller list, including the best-selling computer game of 2000, The Sims, the popular life simulation game. SimCity 4, the city-building simulation game, was the best-selling PC game of 2003. Spore is a life simulation game that was the best-selling game of 2008, and The Sims 3 was the best-selling game of the following year. Maxis titles are some of the best-selling games of all time.

Some of the games on the list require high-end gaming PCs to run and load graphics, but many can run on any personal computer. Some recent games like Minecraft have lower resolution graphics and simpler gameplay, making them very easy to run on the average personal computer.

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Games are expensive and no one can afford to buy all the latest releases at full price. Here are the best ways to pick up your used games for a fraction of the cost.

Reasons not to buy used

If you want to play high-end games or do professional 3D drafting work, a used computer may not be the best choice for you. GPUs continue to develop faster than other PC components, and the new game consoles due out this fall will also raise higher system requirements for PC games. The laptop in use may still be suitable for photo and video editing as these applications do not require as much graphics performance.

In many online stores, “refurbished” is usually just a fancy word for “used.”

A used laptop usually does not come with the highest level of customer service or warranty support that is available through the AppleCare Protection Plan or the manufacturer’s extended warranty. You can find used computers with one or two original warranties, and these warranties generally pass to new owners without any problem. But more often than not, you can find limited 30- or 90-day warranties that cover if your computer is dead on the day of delivery, but not much else. Extended third party warranties from companies like Asurion, Geek Squad, or SquareTrade (depending on where you purchased it) can give you peace of mind, but the customer service provided by these companies can be hit and miss and you should read the fine print carefully to check what’s and what’s not is covered.

What to look for

Lenovo Yoga C740 Laptop (14

The three most important things to look for in a computer you use are its physical condition (especially laptops that move more often and are more stressed), its make and model number, and its specifications.

Some used computer vendors post pictures of the actual computers they sell, making it easier to assess the health of your computer. Others may assign it a letter-rating – stick to A- or B-rated systems to reduce the risk of visible damage or wear. The only way to make sure you get something really new is to buy a manufacturer-refurbished system.

Most people can cope with a computer that meets our minimum requirements.

In general, we suggest sticking to Dell, HP or Lenovo desktops and laptops (or Apple if you are buying a Mac). It’s okay to buy used computers from smaller companies like Acer or Asus, but it’s usually easier to find parts and support for older computers made by larger companies. We particularly like business desktops and laptops such as the Dell Optiplex and Latitude series, the Lenovo ThinkCentre and ThinkPad family, and the HP Pro and Elite. These kinds of PCs are more bulky than modern ultrabooks like Dell’s XPS 13 or Apple’s MacBook Air, but are easier to update and repair, and are built with stronger materials that are more likely to withstand stress.

Minimum requirements

Most people can cope with a computer that meets our minimum requirements. If you only need basic tasks like web browsing, document editing, and video chat, here’s what you should be looking for:

  • Processor: Select a 6th generation Intel Core processor or later (look for a model number that starts with a Core i3, i5, or i7 followed by 6000 or later). Although these chips are now six years old, they continue to receive software support from Intel and many PC manufacturers as of May 2021.
  • Memory: For basic web browsing and app use, 4GB is the bare minimum. But if you buy a 4GB PC, see if you can upgrade the memory yourself – you can almost always upgrade a desktop PC, but many laptops don’t allow this.
  • Storage: An SSD with a capacity of 128 GB or greater is better than a larger but slower mechanical hard drive, both in terms of reliability and responsiveness. But buying a PC with a hard drive and replacing it with an SSD yourself can save you some money.
  • Screen type: For notebooks, look for IPS displays that provide better color reproduction and viewing angles than cheap TN displays (WVA displays, although rarer and not as good as IPS, also tend to look good). Lists of computers in use do not always specify display technology, but 1080p screens are more likely (though not guaranteed) to be IPS.
  • Screen resolution: We prefer laptop screens with a resolution of 1920 × 1080 pixels, also called 1080p or Full HD, but some older laptops can handle 1440 × 900 or 1600 × 900 screens. Avoid 1366 × 768 screens (also called HD) which look worse and tend to use inferior TN technology.

Deputy editor of Security, Linux, DIY, Programming and Tech Explained as well as Really Useful Podcast producer, with extensive experience in operating desktops and software. Christian is a co-founder of Linux Format magazine, a Raspberry Pi tinkerer, a Lego lover and a fan of retro games.

Table of Contents

  • What to look for in the PC Storefront
  • General choice: Steam
  • DRM Freedom: GOG.COM
  • Home of Game Pass: Xbox Launcher
  • For smaller games: itch.io
  • Free Games and Exclusive: Epic Games Store
  • For charity: Humble Bundle
  • Ubisoft Games: Ubisoft Connect
  • EA Games: Origin
  • So, which storefront should you use?

While every storefront has its own strengths and weaknesses, there are a few general things that can help you make your decision.

  • Game Selection: This is the biggest of these – if you want to pick a specific game, there’s no point in purchasing from a store that doesn’t offer it. Whether it’s due to exclusive publisher agreements or just developer preferences, some games will only be available on certain storefronts. We’ll take some general notes on the selections available in each, but we know that one storefront cannot have it all, which means you’ll likely have multiple stores at one point or another.
  • Store Design: Buying games should be as easy as possible, so storefronts should be well organized and easy to navigate. Fortunately, it’s something all competitors are pretty good at these days, but it’s worth considering nonetheless.
  • Launcher: Most storefronts don’t stop at a website, they also have launchers where you run the games you buy. Some force you to use their launcher, while others let you open games without it. Either way, the launcher is well designed and has some nice features (like organizing games, time tracking, or simple multiplayer games) is a nice bonus.

General Choice: Steam

Valve

Steam is the most popular storefront, and while this is partly because it’s been around the longest, Steam also offers a wide variety of titles along with a feature-rich launcher. From smaller indie games to gigantic triple AAA releases, Steam covers it all, and the store itself has plenty of sorting options to find new games. You can browse games by genre, price, and release date, and view personalized recommendations based on your previous browsing or specific preferences. Sales are also a common occurrence on Steam, allowing you to buy a lot of great games at low prices.

And when it comes to the Steam Launcher, things are managed similarly. You can organize games in different folders, download user-created content from the Steam Workshop (for games that support it), and playing multiplayer is easy with your Friends List. If you just want to play PC games without paying attention to details, Steam is your best option.

Remember, patience is key – you may not find a killer deal tonight, tomorrow, or even next week, but if you monitor and negotiate closely, you will eventually find the perfect system at an unbeatable price.

Conclusion

Buying a used or refurbished computer is a golden gateway for gamers on a budget to the world of computer games.

You don’t have to pay a lot to get started. An older computer with an older graphics card will give you a taste of PC gaming.

But be careful, building and tinkering with your own gaming PC can be very addictive. Once you’ve tasted the power of dark si… I mean, you’ve tasted power and control in PC games, console games feel anemic.

Not only that, but you can save a ton of money by purchasing a used computer. In fact, you can save at least 54% on a new gaming PC of comparable power by purchasing a used one.

And then you can use that 54% saved cash on, you know, buying the actual games.

In addition, buying a used computer avoids many perfectly good components rotting in the dumpster.

So buying a used gaming PC seems like a pretty good deal, right? This is because it is so!

Browse eBay auctions, experience Amazon products, click ads on Craigslist.

Someone may be putting your next gaming PC up for sale right now. And with this article and other links here, you’re ready to get your gaming pc bargain deal.

Electronics, like those poor old PC cases, will eventually end up in the Garbage Mountain. Don’t let it happen: buy used, save the planet.

What’s next?

Can I buy used refurbished parts to build my own gaming desktop? Yes. GPUs, processors, motherboards, Blu-ray drives, cases, whatever you want. I bought, used and built a system out of it. I have never had any failures or problems.

I would like to build my own gaming PC from used parts instead of buying a used gaming PC. How do I do that? Ah, you’re lucky, a few months ago I wrote “how to make a gaming PC out of used parts.” You can take a look at it here.

Should I buy a used gaming laptop instead? You can buy some pretty awesome gaming laptops from places like eBay. But they usually have an edge over gaming PCs, and components are never quite as powerful as a gaming PC. If portability is something you really need from a gaming laptop then yes, get it. Check out my “Should I Buy a Used Gaming Laptop” article for some buying tips. Otherwise, if you have the space I’d buy a gaming PC instead.

the source of the title image

My thanks go to Jjulienava who took the cracking photo for the title picture. The legally adjusted part of my brain (admittedly a very small part) told me to include the legal sharing rights: Attribution-Alike 4.0 International

Hopped on Cyberpowerpc.com to build a comparable new platform. It featured the same Ryzen 7 3700x processor, AMD RX 5700xt, 16GB of RAM, power supply, everything.

What you’ll get

Before you start hunting gear, you need to define your expectations. Even after a few upgrades, a weaker PC like the Dell Optiplex I found won’t play all the latest Triple-A titles at high resolutions with beautiful ray tracing graphics. However, it can handle many lower-end esports titles, such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends, Fortnite, Overwatch, and Rocket League. Depending on the improvements made, high-end games like Shadow of the Tomb Raider may be playable if you want to reduce the resolution to 720p. (However, if you run into any trouble, the LowSpecGamer YouTube channel has plenty of tricks for playing newer games below the minimum system requirements.)

Open the PC tower

It doesn’t look like much right now, but with a little love, this baby will help you win hundreds of battles. Whitson Gordon

Of course, during the sale on Steam, you will also be able to download games from a few years ago and play them without much problem, for very cheap. And since Games isn’t just about playing the latest graphics giants on release, you can also step back into classic masterpieces at stores like GOG.com.

Lastly, know that this PC probably won’t be a long-term investment, so consider this as a makeshift solution until you can afford the more powerful version. After all, we’re talking about fairly old, well-used hardware, and you can only upgrade it before it makes more sense to build a new PC from scratch. It may also require a bit more maintenance, so be prepared to troubleshoot problems if they arise – and make sure you have a good backup solution for your data on hand.

If this all sounds good, it’s time to start hunting for business.

Where to find your parts

You can find used cheap pc parts all over the web, but the best deals likely are in your area. I recommend hitting the sidewalk and finding local electronics recycling centers, office liquidators, and thrift stores – call them or visit them to see what their used computers and computer parts have. Alternatively, if you know people in local schools and businesses, ask them if their IT department wants to get rid of their old hardware.

Screenshot of Craiglist

This may be obvious, but you should always test your computer before donating any money. Whitson Gordon

This way, you will be able to find many of the components you need, but not necessarily all of them. To find anything you can’t find in the e-waste hub, search Craigslist, OfferUp, LetGo, and other similar apps. You can also try eBay, but the platform has a much larger audience which means things are selling for a fair market price. But you buy the computer at the lowest budget possible, so the market price isn’t what you want: you need a local retailer who is willing to negotiate a killer deal just to get out of their hands. (You can even try and find free parts for your gaming PCs, but I wouldn’t bet too much on it – especially if you want things to be in decent working condition.)

Buying locally also allows you to test your equipment before donating your money. When negotiating a sale, ask the salesperson to be plugged in and ready to try when you go pick it up. This way, you can check if it boots into Windows, run CrystalDiskInfo to see if your hard drive is still in good condition, and make sure it doesn’t stink of smoke (seriously – it’s more common than you think). If your PC doesn’t have a hard drive – it’s not uncommon for companies to destroy it for safety reasons before disposing of your PC – check to see if it boots into the BIOS, or take a flash drive with the Windows installer and see if that turns into that. If everything looks reliable, you can take it home and start working on your updates.

Online sales like eBay do, however, offer buyer protection which comes in handy if you receive a defective item. Craigslist usually has no option for this, so you’ll need to weigh your risk tolerance against your budget and start there.

If we continue to follow our current consumption trajectory, within 100 years most of Africa and the nations on the equator will become uninhabitable.

Do “used” digital games make sense?

Before you get too excited about this digital resale there are some strict rules. First, according to a Robot Cache press release, publishers will be able to “set resale prices.” Second, publishers retain 70 percent of the purchase price of any games they resell, leaving only 25 percent to the player actually selling the title (after the 5 percent Robot Cache fee).

These are possibly important promises that could entice publishers to partner with the new concept of reselling digital games. However, they also appear to be extremely likely to fundamentally penetrate the potential market for these “used” digital games, at least from the player’s point of view.

As publishers get a greater share of the revenue from new sales than from resale (95% versus 70%), there appears to be no direct incentive for these publishers to set resale prices lower than new ones. This means that players looking for a good deal in the “used” Robot Cache gaming market are unlikely to find it. It also means that publishers are unlikely to get such a juicy 95% revenue share from “new” sales if there is even one (and identical) used copy on the market.

Further Reading

Moreover, platforms such as Steam have proven that companies can often generate large revenues by offering “new” copies of downloadable games at large post-release rebates. Why would a publisher allow cheap “used” sales to compete with its own planned rebates on identical “new” copies that can be generated at will at little overhead at any cost?

Allowing the resale price to persist based on total supply and demand (possibly based on a Steam Marketplace-style auction system) would help to overcome this problem. But it would also significantly lower the digital resale revenue of publishers (and selling players), reducing the likelihood that they would buy through a resale program.

The IRON bank

Even the Robot Cache logo looks a bit skeptical about this idea.

At the other end of the resale market, players getting a discount of up to 25 percent on completed games are better than not being able to sell digital games at all on other platforms. But sellers using the robot cache will only be paid in IRON [Update: Robot cache tells Ars sellers they can choose to pay in cash or iron]. This is convenient if you want to buy more robot cache games, but much less useful if you want more liquid currency.

Further Reading

The many possibilities for the operation of the robot cache are based on the promise that IRON will be a standalone cryptocurrency important and desirable. Robot Cache aims to raise at least $ 15 million by pre-selling rights to 105 million IRON tokens to institutional and accredited investors at a discount, well before IRON is actually generated in the second quarter of 2018. These early adopters are taking the risk that the Robot Cache and the IRON network are up and running as promised and on time; as rejected last year investors in the Tezos cryptocurrency found out, this is not a guarantee.

However, when IRON goes live, the “true” value of these tokens will not be just an academic matter, especially for Robot Cache publishers who will be paid in IRON for their games (and who will have to turn around and pay their employees with government backed cash) [Update: Robot Cache explains that “The company will receive iron from players and pay publishers in cash.” This still makes IRON’s true value the backbone of the transaction chain, but there you go.] The robot cache claims that IRON earned from reselling games “will likely remain in the ecosystem,” suggesting they don’t expect users to just turn around out and transform it into a more solid form of currency.

Further Reading

But if the value of IRON in real currencies proves to be as volatile as it is with other cryptocurrencies, the price of Robot Cache games that are denominated in IRON could fluctuate rapidly over the course of a day. Even if Robot Cache turns iron into dollars immediately on sale, volatile pricing can leave users wondering when it’s best to buy or sell (will this game be effectively cheaper if i buy it for iron in an hour? Per day?) [Update : Robot Cache confirms that users will be able to buy IRON with cash and games with IRON “immediately” to streamline the process].

Further Reading

Just last month, Valve stopped accepting Bitcoin payments on Steam in part because rapidly changing valuations caused Bitcoin-denominated prices to move too quickly to be dealt with. Valve also cited Bitcoin transaction fees of up to $ 20 for suspending Bitcoin-based sales. Robot Cache promises publishers will “get paid in minutes (not months)” and that “using an ERC-20 token ensures IRON settles quickly,” but many of those promises depend on how well the underlying network is performing Ethereum is able to scale up as it becomes more popular.

And unlike other cryptocurrencies which allow much wider applications, IRON as a currency is created solely to power one video game market. So in the end, the actual value of IRON will depend largely on how many people are willing to buy the games hosted on the Robot Cache platform. It’s a bit like supporting a new currency with GameStop Gift Cards.

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