I’m thinking about buying a video game console for my family as a gift. I will admit that I know nothing about video game systems, so I turned to a couple of my colleagues for help in making an informed decision. They offered a lot of terrific tips which I’m now sharing with you.

Is a video game console right for you?

(*note that I’m not referring to computer games in this post.)

If you are still debating about whether a video gaming system is right for your family, these questions may help you decide:

  • Do you want to spend your (or your kids’) time playing video games?
  • Is it an impulse buy? Sometimes it’s difficult to resist the marketing of new systems. Ask yourself if this is really something you want. Then take some time to think about it.
  • What extra things do you need to buy? Make sure you understand all the elements you need and how much they cost. For example, some handheld consoles don’t come with a charger and some systems don’t come with much memory.

How to choose a console?

If you’ve decided to go ahead with buying a console, now you need to decide which one is right for you (and/or your family). There are many options to choose from, such as Nintendo, Sony PlayStation or Microsoft Xbox. Ask yourself:

  • Are you looking to play by yourself or multi-player? Do you want to play online?
  • Do you want a handheld device or a traditional system?
  • Who will be playing it – adults or children?
  • How much do you want to spend?
  • Do you want to buy a new or used system?
  • What are the parental controls (if that’s important to you)?
  • Is a subscription required? This is often an extra feature.

If parental controls are important to you, the Entertainment Software Association of Canada has a series of videos that talk about the parental controls for several video game consoles.

If you are buying it from a store, don’t forget to ask them about their return policy! In BC, stores are not required to take returns or provide refunds.

Buying second-hand?

Often buying second hand can save you money. If you decide to buy a console second-hand from a private seller, here are some important tips:

  • Find out exactly what comes with their system – controllers, games, cords, a memory card? To make sure that you are getting everything you need, look online for all of the components of the system, create an inventory for yourself and then double check that each item is available through the private sale.
  • Go check out the product in person before committing to the purchase.
  • Understand that it’s likely a final sale. If there ends up being something wrong, you probably won’t get your money back. You also won’t have a new product warranty.
  • If the system comes with games that have been downloaded, they are likely linked to the seller’s personal account and you won’t be able to access them with your account.
  • When purchasing a used system, immediately reset it to its factory state.

It’s important to do your due diligence when buying online or through a private sale. I hope this helps you with your decision-making. Happy gaming!

Video game ratings

If you want to know the rating of a specific video game, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) assigns age and content ratings for video games and mobile apps so parents can make informed choices. Visit their website at www.esrb.org.

About Consumer Protection BC

While we have no oversight over video games, consoles or private sales, we do regulate specific sectors and certain consumer transactions in British Columbia. If your concern is captured under the laws we enforce, we will use the tools at our disposal to assist you. If we can’t help you directly, we will be happy to provide you with as much information as possible. Depending on your concern, another organization may be the ones to speak to; other times, court or legal assistance may be the best option. Explore our website at www.consumerprotectionbc.ca.


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