- Games, Toys, and Hobbies»
- Computer & Video Games
How to Choose a Video Gaming Console
What was your favorite Video Game Console?
What video game console is right for my family?
Selecting the right video game system is a difficult decision; there are many factors that should be weighed before deciding which console is right for you.
Do you want High Definition Graphics, Blu Ray DVD, Motion detection, Online game play etc?
Do you want a Handheld game or game console that links to my TV?
Do you want to play 'hardcore' gaming games like Halo, Final Fantasy etc, or are you more interested in family games like Wii Sports?
Do you have your favorite console like Nintendo, Microsoft, or Sony
So how do you choose which one is right for you? Read on as I describe the things that you should think about before buying the console.
You have many choices (including older generations - example PS2): - Personal Computer (PC)
Many of the top games are available on the PC, so if you don't mind playing on the PC then why buy a Gaming Console? Generally, a dedicated gaming PC will have far more power than the store bought console, however, the cost of the machine will be probably two to three times more. You will also have a pretty powerful home computer that, when used in the living room, will double as a media center, allowing you to store pictures, movies etc, surf the web, use all the modern applications, such as MS Office, Corel Draw, Photo Shop etc - thus giving a lot more added value than the standalone console.
Like most consoles in this list, Sony has a long line of gaming consoles: PS4, PS3, PSP, the Playstation Move,
Playstation has always been on the forefront of video quality, however, when it comes to innovation, they usually lag behind the competition.
Exclusive game titles from Sony: Final Fantasy
The XBOX 360 is great if you want HD games; it has some huge franchises such as Halo and the future looks rosy with Project Natal. The biggest problem that the XBOX has is that it is not that popular in Japan - this may not seem like a big thing to you, but because of the size of the gaming market in Japan, and the innovations of the designers of games in Japan, XBOX gamers may lose out on some of the best games that are exclusively build for the PS3.
Exclusive game titles from Microsoft: Halo
Nintendo is the perennial winner as they are typically the most innovative and have successfully introduced many consoles includes: WiiU, Wii, Nintendo 64, GameCube, 3DS, DS, Gameboy, and the original Nintendo.
Nintendo grew up from the free-standing video games to where they are today. A lot of exclusive titles have survived the test of time like: Super Mario Brothers, MarioKart, the Legend of Zelda, and Punchout.
Apple iPhone & iPod Touch
The Apple iPhone & iPod Touch are starting to charge into the industry with its Apps & Games. More and more games are becoming available and Apple are beginning to change the way the world thinks about gaming and apps. My suspicion is that Apple will sit back and watch Sony and Microsoft as the enter the ‘motion capture’ market – they’ll then stun the world with some sort of ‘console’ that incorporates iTunes, downloadable HD DVDs, motion capture games and applications – it may be the next stage in the development of the media center type computer.
Games on cell phones are currently mostly for the casual player, but we are starting to see some decent games appear on the Cell Phone. Apple changed the playing field, and now more and more cell phones are entering the applications market - there seems to be a lot of convergence going on, and the way we communicate, in all forms is changing - this is just the first step.
TV or Handheld?
With the prevalence of the large screen TV in today's society, the video gaming console is becoming a permanent fixture in the living room, as video games become more mainstream and link to the pop culture.
Therefore, if you intend to set up your gaming console in a permanent place where you hook it up to a TV then you have narrowed down the choice to the XBOX 360, the Wii, the PS3 or the PC. While the handheld console can be linked up to a TV, they are not really designed to get the best out of this environment.
If you intend to play games on the move then you want to get a handheld console such as the PSP, the DS, the iPhone. While there are hundreds of games on these handheld consoles, generally they are not as powerful as the larger consoles and therefore the games will not be quite as good.
What Type of games do you intend to play?
If you're a gamer looking for the best graphics, the best sound and the most humungous explosions then you probably will go for the XBOX 360, the PC or the PS3. The XBOX 360 and PS3 systems are generally tailored for the hardcore gamer, with developers focusing more on game play and a more involved experience than a casual gamer would like.
If you're looking for something all the family can have fun with then the Wii wins hands down; the Wii is designed with the family in mind; Nintendo sacrificed graphics and sound capabilities so that it could enhance the gaming experience for the family.
Consoles also Double as DVD players
If you want your console to double as a DVD player then again you are restricted to the XBOX 360, PC or PS3. The PS3 has a huge advantage over the XBOX 360 as it is also a Blu Ray DVD player - so to get HD DVD you can only use the PS3. Many PCs are also beginning to have Blu Ray players installed.
As digital downloads of movies becomes more prevalent, the XBOX360 will probably have the advantage as they already have a link with Netflix that allows you to stream movies - as this develops, you'll eventually be able to download and stream HD Movies.
If you want to be able to swish your controller and see the sword hit the bad guy on the TV then your only choice is the Wii - it is currently the only Console with a motion sensor on the controller.
Both Sony and Microsoft are developing their own hardware for motion sensing games, and Project Natal by Microsoft looks very innovative, but these won't be introduced until 2010.
This is an area that is becoming more important for the casual gamer - while hardcore gamers will probably stay true to their trusty controllers for the foreseeable future, more intuitive interaction with a console allows more people, who normally wouldn't play games, interact with the console in a way in which it makes it far easier to play games, and therefore take a lot of the mystery out of it.
Additionally, with Project Natal capturing the headlines, and being available for both the PC and the XBOX 360, we may see a shift towards more interactive games; in fact, the power of Project Natal is only restricted by the imaginations of the designers - there are so many possibilities - sports training programs, educational instruction (imagine doing a chemistry experiment on the XBOX 360) etc.
If you like a particular game you may find that it is exclusive to one console. XBOX 360 has the Halo franchise; Sony has the Final Fantasy franchise; Nintendo has many exclusive franchises.
This exclusivity often drives sales of one console over the other; and in my opinion isn’t that healthy for the whole industry – imagine if you went to a gas station and they told you their gas was only compatible with the Nissan – you wouldn’t go out and buy a Nissan, would you?
Over time most games will be ported to each console though; for instance the next Final Fantasy will not be exclusive to the PS3. So this may not be a major factor eventually.
Microsoft so far have cornered the market on the online experience. Their Windows Live not only allows XBOX players to interact live, but also allows PC players to join in too. Sony are catching up but have a long way to go. Nintendo are also playing the catch-up game too!
As the barriers between the consoles dim, you'll find that the online experience will become similar for all consoles.
With the growth in the number of online role playing games (such as World of Warcraft etc.), this aspect of gaming is growing. Additionally, many games, such as Halo, Guitar Hero etc allow for players to play against (or with) other players from around the world - with the use of a headset they can interact with them via voice.
Will it become obsolete?
One of the biggest concerns I had when buying a new console was how long before it became obsolete. Sony have stated, and Microsoft have adopted a similar policy – saying that a console will have a ten year life cycle. So for the XBOX 360 and PS3 you probably have at least three or four years.
However – the term obsolete for consoles is quite different than you’d expect. While the number of games designed for an ‘obsolete’ console goes down dramatically, there are still thousands of games available at discount or on ebay – you’ll still be able to use the XBOX 360 in ten years, you just won’t be able to have all the best games.
Conclusion - (The console I chose and why)
I'm a geek and proud of it. For varying reasons my console of choice was the XBOX 360 - as a pure geek I felt that the Sony PS3 was the better piece of hardware, but the XBOX 360 had several features that were a better 'fit' for me.
Prior to hooking up my PC to my living room TV, the XBOX 360 allowed me to:
-stream music from my subscription service with Rhapsody, thus allowing me to have a juke box in my living room.
-view all my pictures saved on my PC on my living room TV.
-play games with my friends I left behind in the UK when I moved to the US.
Now I have a PC in the living room I possibly would have chosen differently, but I don't regret my choice - especially with the upcoming release of Project Natal - can't wait to go head-to-head with tiger woods, using my own golf clubs in my living room.
The point is that the choice was a personal one - it wasn't based on 'which console is the best' but more on 'which console is the best for me'.
So which one is the best for you? Feel free to ask questions in my Guestbook and I'll endeavor to answer them objectively.