How to buy games for your kids: A guide for parents

Buying games for your kids can be a daunting task. Hundreds of new games come out every year, and every couple of years there are one or two brand new consoles on the shelves during the Christmas period.

What’s more, there are more ways to buy games than ever. Online, offline, on the High Street, in supermarkets, new, used, from your friends – where to begin?

As a gaming parent I’ve put together a list of do’s and don’ts based on my experiences over the years:


Key guidelines

Ask your child what they want: This is the most crucial piece of advice. Even if you think you know what you’re doing, always ask. There is no point finding a great deal only to discover on Christmas morning that they can’t play the Playstation game you bought with their Xbox. Kids are obsessed with and very knowledgeable about what they play and what they want – always ask them if you’re not 100% sure. The answer might even surprise you!

Buy used: There is absolutely no reason to buy brand new these days, unless you’re buying something released less than a week old. This particularly applies to retail, with most retailers offering annual warranties on their used goods. Used games are often up to 50% cheaper and are exactly the same quality as new counterparts. That being said, if you are set on buying new…

Buy online: Online is almost always cheaper than the High Street or any brick-and-mortar store. Amazon and often have great deals, but the real steals can be found second-hand, on Gumtree (pick the games up from local people) or, of course, eBay.

Shop around: This rule applies to all other gift-buying, but it’s still so important when it comes to gaming. Big supermarkets may have the latest releases, but they are nearly always the most expensive – and take advantage of people who don’t know any better, often charging £50-£60 for old titles. Always shop around, even if you think you’ve got a good deal.

Go to game-centric shops: Shops that specialise in games are generally much better than the larger, all-purpose stores like HMV or Currys. GAME and CEX are the two big players in the UK, and will generally offer better deals, with CEX being cheaper on the whole but only offering used games.


Ask the shopkeeper for advice: If you do prefer to buy retail, one big benefit is the shop staff. People who work in game-orientated shops are invariably gamers, and most of the time are very informed on the industry. They’re encouraged to talk to customers and advise them – definitely take advantage.

Haggle: This one might sound a bit out-there, but when I worked in the now-defunct GameStation 10 years ago, street-wise shoppers used to haggle all the time, and it worked! Especially if you’re spending a lot – maybe splashing out on a console bundle with a few games, why not ask for a controller thrown in? Or some used games? It does absolutely no harm, and you might get something out of it.

Again, make sure you have the right thing: The same game is often released across multiple consoles. Make sure you have the right platform, and make sure you have the right game – sequels are often non-numerical in-game series. Google whether it’s the latest version.