Okay, so as any otome fans will understand, there can be a LOT of interesting games/cds/goods coming out each and every month which can really make your wallet/purse take a hit. I’ve been importing things for almost 7 years now so it’s fair to say that I’ve picked a couple of tricks up on my way. This post will mostly be about otome-related stuff but it can really apply to other things too!
1. Don’t be Afraid to Buy Used!
Okay there’s probably some debate out there about the ethical implications of buying used games meaning that the developers don’t get your money directly (even though the original seller bought the game, ect) but hey let’s be honest here, there are a fair amount of otome games that are completely over-priced out there! I personally don’t see the problem with buying used games when they can be like 20% of the price of a new game. If you want to support the developer after that then go and buy the visual fanbook, drama/music cds and/or character goods afterwords.
I’ve typically found that Japanese websites (such as Surugaya) and also sellers on sites like yahoo auctions tend to be very, very honest about any marks or scratches on the items and in general tend to keep their items like-new (of course there are exceptions). I’ve personally had more new items become damaged slightly in the mail than I have used items arriving with unexpected marks.
Stay away from anything labelled “Junk” as it probably won’t work and will be in a sorry state.
I’m also going to state here that buying used games may not work for PC Visual Novels as a lot of companies (the old QuinRose games immediately spring to mind) employ a very strict authorisation system that may only allow the game to be installed on 1 PC(or another very limited number of PCs). I’d recommend checking this out before purchasing that cheap computer game.
2. Do you Really Need that Limited Edition?
Okay, I get it, the Limited First Press Special Deluxe Shining Princess Box Editions may sound *AMAZING* and oh so sparkly but maybe re-evaluate buying more than one or two per month. For example, you could probably buy 2 regular editions for the cost of one limited edition. This also applies to shop bonuses: for example the UtaPri Princess Box Animate Set is 15,984 yen and the normal princess box is only 11,272 @ amazon (it’s only 10,437 yen if you’re shipping it abroad directly) so for a saving of a whopping 5547 yen do you really need the animate set? If I’m being honest, if you don’t like drama cds then there’s not that much point in buying most limited editions since the booklets/fabric posters in all otomate games are barely worth it. Below is a handy chart to use when in doubt.( click to expand )
3. Auctions are Amazing
Okay one of the absolute best ways to grab a bargain is to stalk Yahoo Auctions. I use buyee as a proxy so remember there is a 350+ yen surcharge, although the discounts you get greatly offset this. Not even just for used games, I’ve gotten brand new games for 30-40% discount like a week after they were released so make sure to search regularly. Buyee sometimes offer special discounts and coupons too, especially for use on Rakuten.
4. Trophy Hunters are your Friends~
(I suppose this kind of continues on from the above point)
There are a LOT of people out there who only buy Visual Novels because you can get a platinum trophy in like 4 hours. These people tend to just play the game and then resell quickly on sites such as ebay. Okay, you have to be careful when buying through ebay as you’ll have to sift through lots of over-priced stuff but when you find a couple of good sellers make sure that you “follow” them so you can see what they’re selling more easily. Usually since these games are only played like once or twice they tend to be in mint condition which is great. The best thing is that if you find sellers that live in your country then shipping can be very cheap or even free! I’ve gotten a lot of surprisingly cheap games this way but you have to keep an eye out.
5. Discounts Galore!
So there’s actually quite a few sites that give out coupons every so often. Animate and Tower Records are probably the best though:
- Tower Records normally email you with all of their campaigns but it tends to be “500 yen off when you spend over 3000 yen” type coupons.
- Animate occasionally have HUGE discounts on things (they did a 70% off coupon earlier in the year) but until June 2017 if you place an order on the 30th of the month (remember this is JST) then they’ll give you a 30% off coupon to be used on any single item that costs over 3000yen! You have to apply the coupon within 1 month (but you can use it on pre-order items). This is a pretty exceptional offer though and I’d imagine you could save quite a bit on some things ^_^
Occasionally other sites such as amiami and amazon will (seemingly randomly) discount items heavily.
I think there tends to be a stereotype that discounted game =/= kusoge but this isn’t always the truth, it tends to mean that the game is either not that popular or the shop over-estimated the amount of stock they’d need.
Stellaworth also have a sales category and you can get some 50% discounts on certain drama CDs which is pretty good, although it’s worth checking Surugaya first since I’ve seen fairly recent used CDs (like 1-2 months old) sell for 200 yen.
6. Do you Really Need the Whole Set?
Okay, so we all know those “blind boxes” of things like keyholders where you’re only guaranteed your favourite if you buy the whole set of 8. If it’s a series where you only really like 1 or 2 characters then it’d probably be worth either :
- Looking for a box split on somewhere like tumblr or storenvy (note: please use your own discretion when purchasing something from someone via tumblr since there’s no buyer protection)
- Waiting for the box to come out and then searching for the character(s) you’re after via auction, surugaya or amazon JP.
- Buy my extras! (just kidding 😛 )
7. Go Digital
Well this one sounds quite obvious, with no shipping fees and such you can end up saving a lot in the long run. Unfortunately, I haven’t found any drama CDs released digitally so those will still have to be imported but you can save a lot on the following things:
- Otome Games: Digital copies tend to cost a couple thousand less anyways and there are sometimes special offers. At the moment, Prince of Stride is 50% off on JP PSN. You can make a Japanese PSN account on any PS Vita regardless of which country you bought it in and can pay via paypal I believe (although I have a UK PSN Account for all those discounted JRPGs). As for PC games, you can get digital copies via DMM for a slightly reduced price.
- Manga/Artbooks: You can buy these via Amazon JP and either read on the kindle app or the browser version. Books can be quite heavy and as such cost A LOT to ship so this is a good way to save money. Amazon occasionally have special offers, I managed to get the first volume of the “DAYS” manga for free (probably as an incentive to buy the rest).
- Music: It is very, very simple to set up a Japanese itunes account and like 90% of Japanese music is released there. Make sure to check your native country’s itunes store first though since it’s probably cheaper (250yen vs £0.99 per song) and I’ve found that UK itunes actually has a fair amount of Otome game/anime songs. You have to buy itunes cards if you want to use JP itunes though, my personal recommendation would be Japan Codes as they’re the cheapest I’ve found. If anyone knows anywhere cheaper then I’d love to know for future reference.
8. Wait for the English Version
It may sound silly but the English Version of the game will 95% of the time be a lot cheaper, although you really do miss out on any bonuses and on some occasions (e.g. Ozmafia!) you’re missing out on a lot of extra content only included in the PSVita version. That being said, if the game has an English version announced before you purchase the original then maybe hold off for a while.
To end it all, just buy what you want to buy. These are some suggestions on how to save a little bit of cash but Otome Games are a hobby after all so it’s nice to treat yourself to whatever version of the game you want~
If anyone else has any tips and tricks then I’d love to hear! c:
To round it all off, you can also save a lot of money by not playing so many over-priced mobile games, lol. Especially when there’s no voices! Go and buy a cheap 1200 yen copy of some PSV game instead~
Thanks for reading! ^_^
Thank you for this detailed article ! I agree about the limited editions, I try to limit the number I would get in a year… But it can be hard sometimes ! >.>
Thank you for reading, I’m glad you liked it ^_^
Yes the struggle is real ;-; Especially when there can be 5+ games a month and the limited edition covers are always so nice, right?
Yeah I understand it quite well… But unfortunately my wallet can’t follow T_T
But yes, we can find games at good prices at surugaya ! My only problem is that sometimes it is as costly as we bought a new game at CDJapan for example when we need to use a third party for expedition…
I totally agree, it’s easy to forget that you have to add like 500 yen onto the price when you use a third party & I have noticed that there’s not a huge difference in price between new and used copies of newer and very popular games anyway.
CDJapan is pretty useful because you get points as well. I must say that I like using amazonJP because their postage is pretty well priced vs speed of delivery.
I know the feeling, there’s about 6 games coming out in March that I’m after and I shudder to even think about having to choose between them ;-;