Covert Console Video Game Shopping: A Guide For Non-Gamers And Gamers Alike

[Edited to be relevant to 2013]

It always seems that there are five or six video games I really really want at any given time. But I put off buying them for a variety of reasons: Cost, unfinished games in collection, time available to play new games and value of game itself.

With the holidays approaching, I know I shall receive a few video games. I will also be giving video games as gifts.

But gamers are not easy to buy for! You have to know what gaming genre they prefer. Are they into war games? If so do they prefer strategy games or the thrill of shooters? And if it is shooters they love, first or third person shooters? You don't even want me to get started on the difficulty of buying for rpgers!

Once you have narrowed down the genre of games, you have to do some more detective work. Have they already played the game? If so, then don't even bother buying it. Another thing to consider is did they demo the game and then not buy it. If that is the case you have to figure out if they didn't buy the game because they didn't like the demo or just never got around to it.

One easy and covert way to see what games a person has played is by looking at their gaming profile. You can do this for both Xbox Live and Playstation Network (PSN) if you have their gaming name.

For Xbox 360/One Live Members you go to this URL: Replace the XXXXX with their gamertag. If you are not in the USA, change the en-US to the appropriate region.

You will see the last few games they played. Now you get an idea of what they have played and what they like. Typically a higher achievement score means the game is played more.

For a gamer that uses PSN via PS3/ PSVita/PS4 go to this URL: Replace the XXXXX to their PSN ID (game name). If you are not in the USA, change the us to the appropriate region.

Once again, you sill see the games they played and scores in those games.

If you are unfamiliar with what the genre's are of games, write down a few game titles played and take them with you shopping. Any salesperson at a store that sells video games (Walmart, Gamestop) will be able to help you pick the perfect game gift.

Of course if person you are buying for lives right there with you, simply ask to see what games they have played. Most gamers are pretty proud of their played games and are happy to show off.

The next step in your covert operations is to get the gamer talking about games they like. Now, if you have no interest in video games, you will find this part tedious. You may skip it if the gift recipient isn't a high gift priority.

Some great video game targeting questions are as follows:
Why is that your favorite game?
Have you played all the games in that series?
So, if you had to pick one gaming category you love the most, what would it be?
Do you have all the DLC for that game? Follow up with "Why not?" if the answer is no.
What do you think of used games?
Do you buy a lot of (Microsoft Gift Card/Playstation Network Cards)? Follow up with"Why" or "Why not"
How often do you replace your controllers (or other accessory)?

So now you have a more focused, better educated idea of what to get your favorite gamer(s).

If the person you are buying for is into used games and you feel comfortable enough, then you my friend, have hit the jackpot! This means you can buy more on the same budget! We all love more for less right?

Another option that is opened up via questioning is DLC. Most DLC is now sold as a code you can buy right at the store so you can always grab that if the gamer is too hard to figure out for video games.

You can see from the reaction to the PSNC/Microsoft Gift Card if that person would be better suited for that type of gift. Personally I don't know a single gamer that isn't into getting those cards! Even if they are a PC player, gaming studios often have their own form of online currency that can be redeemed for studio-specific games and DLC.

The last question gives you another option in the shopping for video gamers. That is right, accessories. Game controllers for consoles are expensive! Nearly the price of a brand new game. Accessories aren't just game controllers either. Look around the gaming section of a store to see all the things available. Just something to consider.

Finally, don't worry about it. If the smug attitude of store clerks is just too much for you, and yes, people that sell video games, even for mass merchants, are very smug, grab a gift card. Popular gaming retailers in the USA are Amazon, Gamestop/EB, Best Buy, Target, Toys 'R Us and Walmart.

If you do grab a gift card remember that new releases are typically $60 USD plus tax. Be sure personalize the gift card with something thoughtful such as "Furthering your addiction to gaming" or "Some love for your love" or even "It's on me".

Have any of these tips helped you? Do you have a great tip for buying video games for others? Let us know with a comment!

Unfortunately the way Wii is set up, the only covert way to find what Wii user(s) prefer is by talking to them and asking the above questions. Nintendo does have it's own money card system similar to PSNC that can be bought at major retailers.

Author: Janna Hall
Janna enjoys the thrill of a deal and sharing frugal tips, cooking and her passion, video gaming. When not blogging, Janna can be found on her Xbox 360, cooking, earning some cash or gardening. Share tips, recipes, deals here and follow on Twitter.

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  1. That is some wonderful advice. I live with a gamer so I check Amazon a lot around Christmas time. They always have games on sale and I have got lucky on a few he wanted. Plus I save all my Amazon gift cards I have made from surveys or wins. I think last year I only had to pay for one game out of my own pocket and I got a lot of games. I rarely pay full price except for like his Halo or COD games. This year his XBOX pooped out so we had to buy a new one so that's his present. I had so many gift cards I only paid 80 cents for it out of my own pocket which was sweet. I love gift cards as you can save for what you want.
    Sue B

  2. First of all, congrats on only paying $0.80 for a new Xbox 360 Sue B! Way to go! You are the new Queen of Frugal!

    The only thing about gift cards that I am hesitant about is for places like Walmart. You can only use a limited number of gift cards online.

    A tip to help not pay full price for premium games franchises like Halo, etc., Check Game Informer for coupons. On rare occasions there will be a coupon in there. Haven't seen one in many months though.

    I've tried to explain to people how a few hours of time a week can earn them plenty of Amazon GCs and literally save them money.

    I was able to grab both the new Assassin's Creed 3 and the Black Ops 2 without spending a penny of my "real" cash doing as you do with the Amazon cards.

    I need a new Xbox myself. Mine is acting weird. But I am concerned that the Durango (Next Gen Xbox Console) will get released next year so I'm babying my Xbox Elite.

    Worse come to worse, I will just use mancreature's Xbox 360 until the Durango/720 is confirmed or denied. :)


Thank you for your thoughtful comment. Stay frugal!