We all want to support our favourite companies, but all of us have limited budget – and the prices of Japanese games can be super, super painful. For me personally, I work in a country where my pay is relatively small for such hobbies and our exchange rates suck.
So managing this do get a little though. However, here are a couple of things I talked myself through every time:
1. Limited editions are nice, but do you really need it?
Otome games often come in limited editions, which cost more than the regular. To be able to get these, you would need to be able to pre-order the game as they run out fast. Honestly, being able to pre-order the game is great. It allows you to support the title as it launch. But let’s face it, there are too many games launching and we honestly don’t know good from bad until we try it. Unless there are huge factors that would make you absolutely, 100% sure you won’t regret buying the game, maybe you can wait a week until reviews are out.
2. Check multiple reviews
Amazon.jp would have a good number, but you can also check out Japanese players’ impressions and English-speaking blogs too. It’s not advisable to only check one reviewer because in the end, it’s their opinion and they have their own preferences too. They might love the game and you hate it, and vice versa.
3. Ask local friends what they’re getting
By luck, I do have friends who are into otome games who live near me. If you do as well, you can come up with a plan of lending and borrowing. Maybe they have a game they seriously want you’re not sure about – you can ask them to give it a try for half an hour next time you meet. If you like it, you can get it. People are always excited to be able to share what they like. Honestly though, it’s even better if you have games yourself you can lend, don’t just leech and make sure to lend yours out in exchange too, when you can!
4. Schedule everything in advance
I do my budget as soon as I get my pay. This isn’t just for my hobbies – it’s for my bills and savings too. So I would set aside an amount I can save each month and then calculate how much I can spend. I’ll then pick and choose between going out, hobbies, food and prioritise where my money is going. If there is a game I really want out that month, then I’ll just reduce my spending elsewhere. If there’s not a lot I want that month, I save it for when there is.
5. Check out legal demos
Otomate has put some of their more popular titles (Hakuouki, Amnesia, Norn9) on mobile platform, and this would allow you to preview their games before buying it, whether on mobile or a console copy! There are also other companies that provide demo copies – Rejet usually does for their PC titles, and Primula did so for Taisho Alice too.
6. Remember the company doesn’t get money from second hand sales
Even though second hand copies are usually cheaper, you have to remember the game company does not make profit on second hand sales! That being said, that is your decision to get it or not in the end, and I have bought a few games second hand myself. Just keep it in mind and make your decision informed.
Second hand might not even be the best way to get your favourite games, unless you’re aiming for a limited edition you missed. Play-Asia, Amiami, CDJapan all sell otome games at reasonable prices and shipping fees (depending on where you are), and they’re first hand copies.
You can also get the games digitally via PSN. These can be cheaper – and they’re even sometimes on sale!
7. Set realistic savings/money goal
Everyone has different income, so you need to set a goal that works for you. Say you’re a student who gets $10 a week – that would mean your rate of saving money would be different from a worker who gets say, $2000 a month. Set goals that work for you, and it’s okay to wait longer if you have to. Don’t compromise your health for this – you can eat cheaper but not eat nothing, for instance – because you have to be healthy to enjoy your games when you get it!!
In any case, that’s how I budget my otome game hobby! It worked out okay for me, so hey, maybe someone else might find use for this.