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The iPad as an affordable gaming device? Yes

Before I get started, I know what some of you are thinking: “No one in their right mind buys an iPad solely as a gaming device! An iPad is expensive as-is, let alone to be used solely as a gaming device!” Last year, I would have been inclined to agree with such sentiments. Now, however, my thoughts have shifted into a different frame of logic. I already know all the haters out there will disagree and make their comments based solely on the title of this post alone, so I’m aiming to reach everyone else out there — especially those who would like to justify buying an iPad, mainly for the purpose of gaming.

Here’s the initial logic: The up-front cost of the iPad is greater than most mobile gaming devices currently on the market (I say most, because there are devices like the Pandora which run ~$500), but the cost of games quickly equalizes the price. Yes, there are variables to this logic, but the basic premise is that you pay more up-front for the iPad, while paying less in the long run (or the short run, depending on how rabid of a gamer you are) when factoring in the cost of games.

The App Store is filled with tons of amazing, high-quality games that you can download for free, or for some inconsequential cost, like 99 cents. Compare that to rarely ever being able to buy a worthy console or handheld game for less than $10.00 (and used/pre-owned at that, which I, personally, hate), and the numbers start adding up. If you buy great/popular games, then you’re going to end up buying a number of them at price points between $26-$70. Using a real-world scenario, let me give you some numbers based on my own purchases.

Earlier last year, I decided to take the plunge into modern consoles, so I purchased a PS3 bundle (game and extra controller) for $320. Since that time, I now own exactly 38 PS3 games. Using a conservative estimate of $20 per-game, that’s a grand total of $760 in games. (As I said, that’s a conservative estimate; the real number is likely a bit higher.) All-in-all, that’s $1080 spent on a console gaming system over the course of ~1.3 years.

As some of you know, Sony recently launched the PS Vita. Being the early adopter that I am with handheld game systems, I picked one up with 3 of the games that were available at the time. After taxes, I was out ~$400 for the total purchase. Never mind what I’ve spend over the years on the PSP, Wii, DS, 3DS, PC, and older console/handheld systems.

All of a sudden, the iPad doesn’t sound so bad, huh? Especially now that the iPad 2 has dropped in price. Right now, a new 16GB iPad 2 will run you $399. After that, you can roughly gauge the cost of your gaming usage by creating a list of games you would like to play, then finding them on the App Store online and seeing how much they cost.

Don’t just stop there, though! Check out the game recommendations on each page you land on and see if any of *those* games interest you. The reason for this is because you will, inevitably, be tempted to buy games based on pure impulse. The App Store has a way of sucking you in by recommending games to you that you’re going to want to play, so be prepared and factor in some impulse buys.

To sweeten this pot, one of best parts of all is that you’re rarely out more than $50 of what you paid for the iPad, should you decide to sell it. I mean, even extremely cracked iPads like this one are selling for within $100 of a newly-priced model of the exact same specs! That may well change one day, but for the time being, the iPad has got to be one of the most value-retaining devices in existence. Try turning around and selling your Xbox, PS3, PS Vita, or Nintendo 3DS right after you purchase it and see how much you get.

Lastly, let’s not forget about everything *else* you can use the iPad for: browsing, productivity, socializing, etc. When taking all of this into consideration, the cost of an iPad is a no-brainer for people who know how to make the most of it — even if it’s primary purpose is but one. So, what are you waiting for? Take a break from the daily work grind, go pick up an iPad, and start having a blast playing all your favorite mobile games!