Guide to buying used video games

When looking to save money on purchases, buying a video game used instead of brand new can be a great way to save some cash. With some games costing upwards of $60, it’s no wonder that a large market exists to buy.

There are some things to consider when buying a used game, however, which is why we’re here to help. Here are the most important things to consider so it isn’t game over before you’ve hit power.

Check the Packaging (or Requirements)

You’ll want to make sure that your game system meets the requirements for the title you’re purchasing. Even though it would make a lot of sense that an Xbox One game would run on an Xbox One console, some games have specific requirements – controllers, headsets, or membership services (Xbox Live, PlayStation Network) – that might make that disc a great coaster instead of an immersive experience. No one wants to be sitting down to play a game, only to then discover you need something else to make it work.

Age-Appropriate Content

Video games cater to a wide set of audiences, from sports, first-person shooters, role-playing games (RPG) and dragon slaying. That means like other forms of media, movies, and music, games may or may not contain age-appropriate content for the person playing it. The Entertainment Software Rating Board, or ESRB, helps to inform purchasers of the game’s content, using a rating scale to classify games based on their content.

The rating scale includes:

* eC: Early Childhood

* E: Everyone

* E10+: Everyone 10 and older

* T: Teen (ages 13 and older)

* M: Mature (ages 17 and older)

* AO: Adults Only (ages 18 and older)

They also distinguish the reasons for the ratings, offering content descriptions (i.e. “blood and gore,” “crude humor,” “strong language,” or “nudity”) to provide the specifics and allow you to make the most informed decision possible. If you want to look at a specific game’s rating, you should consider using the ESRB’s search tool to conduct further research.

Are There Any Scratches?

After you take a look at the back of the box (assuming they have the original packaging), you’ll want to inspect the disc. Some minor scuffs might be OK, but, by and large, you want the back of that DVD or Blu-ray to be pristine. Scratches on discs can prevent the console from reading it properly, leaving you high and dry and with no way to fix the disc.

Online Licenses or Missing Content

In an effort to circumvent the used game market and incentivize new game purchases, some video game companies bundle exclusive downloadable items, such as extra levels or special characters, with the brand new retail copy of the game. You might luck out and that original owner never claimed that code. Chances are they did indeed, and you’re looking at paying a few extra dollars to obtain that content. Some of these games only offer codes for cosmetic items (different outfits for characters), but for those games that offer digital expansions or levels, you’ll want to keep in mind the extra price you’ll be paying to get that part of the game.

Make Sure It’s a Good Game!

In order to make sure you get your money’s worth, do a little research on the game before you buy it. Trailers and screenshots may make a game look better than how it actually plays. It also could be filled with bugs or incomplete content, which would leave you frustrated at your purchase. There are many different websites that review video games.  Sites like Metacritic do a nice job compiling all those reviews together for a consensus score.

Level Up

Paying attention to the steps above sets the difficulty of buying a used video game to easy. Making sure you’ve checked the reviews, ratings, and requirements, while also giving that disc a nice once over and looking to see if you’d need to pay for additional content. This puts you in command of the used game buying experience. These steps won’t just get you great games at reduced prices but will provide you hours of gaming goodness.