Those in the market for a new game in 2023 are blessed with unprecedented options, with virtually millions of games available to plug and play right now. But whereas even major studio games used to be quite affordable 20 years ago, nowadays the retail price for such titles has risen to around $70. This is partly, and unavoidably, due to inflation – but there’s more at work here.

The scale of big budget games has increased massively nowadays. Whereas an average triple-A title in the early 2000s would have cost between 10 and 20 million dollars, it’s now not uncommon for major games to cost ten times that. On the extreme end of this, a game like Red Dead Redemption 2 is estimated to have cost roughly $540 million to develop.

While it’s obvious to see where all this money is going when you look at the scale and ambition of games such as these, there’s no escaping the fact that some of the requisite costs get transferred to the consumer.

Fortunately, there are alternatives out there for those reluctant to drop $500 on a new console, or pick up the latest expansion pack for their favorite game for almost its original asking price. Below we’re looking at some great options to protect your budget while accessing amazing gameplay today.

Free to Play (F2P)

This monetization model has taken the world by storm over the past ten years. Pioneered by Valve in their popular MOBA esport Dota 2 which was made free to play in 2012, the free to play model underpins the majority of live service games today.

With the addition of quarterly season passes, F2P games make the vast majority of their income from microtransaction sales. Crucially, this means that the base game and its features are typically available to access, for everyone, for free.

This makes games using the F2P format among the very best value titles you can play in 2023. What’s more, as the core game is free to access, these online titles rarely suffer from the kind of player pool drop offs that ultimately kill online titles.

This is especially beneficial when one considers that many of the most popular P2E games – from Apex Legends to Fortnite and Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0, are battle royales. This game mode, which is focused around large scale last-man-standing deathmatches, often feature in excess of 100 players per round.

Offers and Promotions

Promotional marketing is ubiquitous across virtually every product category, and this is for good reason – it works. By offering unique perks with a purchase, game developers can ‘sweeten the deal’ and drum up interest in gamers who would otherwise be sitting on the fence. Naturally, this arrangement also benefits the consumer, who gets to enjoy their new title with added freebies or special bonuses.

Promotions are common in many games – for example, when Knockout City first launched, the game was offered free of charge for an entire month as a means of generating interest and excitement.

One area where promotional offers have been so successful as to become expected, is the world of online games. Here, recommendation engines compete to furnish users with the very best offers for use with leading platforms. These typically range from no deposit bonuses on real money play, to free game play and limited time sign-up bonuses.

Play to Earn (P2E)

Games belonging to the P2E category are effectively at the cutting edge of gaming’s growing association with all things blockchain. Play to Earn games, as the name suggests, are games where the act of playing actually accrues real monetary value for the player. With so many games asking for ever more payments – from season passes to microtransactions, the notion of a game that actually pays you to play is as novel as it is disruptive.

Of course, nobody is likely to be able to quit their day job by playing Axie Infinity and other popular P2E games, at least not yet. The sums awarded are tiny, and are normally locked up in a game’s chosen tokens. But make no mistake, if you’re of a mind to do so, nothing exists to prevent you from using these cents awarded for progression by converting them into fiat currency.