Console Buying Guide for the 2014 Holiday Season

Well it’s that time of year again. Yes, November: where everyone is thankful for what they have and no one wants anything more than to spend time with their family and enjoy a nice meal together.

Look at those wonderful artificial smiles! What a - wait, are those french fries on the table? What is even going on here?
Look at those wonderful artificial smiles! What a – wait, are those french fries on the table? What is even going on here?

Nah, I’m kidding. Christmas is around the corner and I live in America. It’s time to buy sh*t.

Specifically, let’s talk video game consoles. It has been a year since the release of the Sony PlayStation 4 and the Microsoft Xbox One. It has been two years since the release of the Nintendo Wii U. The eighth generation of home video game consoles is officially upon us. So which one should you buy? Every fanboy out there will tell you why “their” console is the best. But let’s take a serious and unbiased look at what each console currently has to offer and what their near future plans are.

Trying to talk to most console owners.
Trying to talk to most console owners.

Let’s start with the big dog, the current best-seller.

PlayStation 4

How much: 400 bucks. Get it, it’s like a hundred for each generation of PlayStation!

Is that Price likely to fall: Possibly. Right now the PS4 is selling like hot cakes so do not expect a price drop in the next three months. That said, the Xbox One just lowered its price (again) so you never know. If fortunes change for Sony, expect that price to drop.

Games: Current exclusive titles are Basement Crawl, Driveclub, Infamous (First Light and Second Son), Killzone Shadow Fall, Knack, Resogun, and that’s it. Not kidding, those are the full list of true exclusives (not out on any other platform) that the consumer can currently purchase for the PS4. This is the best-selling console in the world right now.

There’s More Coming, Right: Yes, if you sell that many units, developers will make games for your system. The PlayStation 4 may have a lackluster exclusive library at the moment but that is going to change. The question is: will it change before the system hits $350?

There’s Other Games to Play: Sure, the PS4 gets most large AAA releases and has an impressive independent library as well. There are games to play, most of them can just be played on other, cheaper, hardware.

I own a PS3, does that matter: Not really. The PS4 is not backwards compatible. There is talk of a streaming service to play certain titles but at the moment, it is not close to completion.

Not sure how they're doing it but it is hard to argue against Sony's success.
Not sure how they’re doing it but it is hard to argue against Sony’s success.

Xbox One

How much: Currently, it is $350. That said, this system was released for $500 only a year ago.

Is that Price likely to fall: Less than impressive sales numbers have fueled the rapid decrease in price. Who is to say that Microsoft is done cutting the cost? Do not expect it to drop again before Christmas.

Games: Current exclusive titles are Crimson Dragon, D4, Dance Central Spotlight, Fighter Within, Forza Motorsport 5, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Killer Instinct, Powerstar Golf, Shape Up, Sunset Overdrive, Xbox Fitness, and Zombie Driver. That is the current lineup of true exclusives available to the Xbox One.

There’s More Coming, Right: Yeah, the Xbox One is far from dead. Sure, the system has not had a great first year but Microsoft is a very large company with a lot of money to spend. Do not count them out yet.

There’s Other Games to Play: The Xbox One gets the same library of large releases that the Ps4 and other systems enjoy. They do not have the same level of indie development however, at least not yet.

I own a 360, does that matter: No. The Xbox One is not backwards compatible. Do not hold your breath for Microsoft to change this.

Xbox One is having a very similar identity crisis that the Wii U suffered through in the year following its launch.
Xbox One is having a very similar identity crisis that the Wii U suffered through in the year following its launch.

Wii U

How Much: $350.

Is that Price likely to fall: The Wii U has yet to have a major price drop. I would not expect this to change before Christmas. That said, with the Xbox One price drop, it is likely that Nintendo will lower the Wii U price tag within the next year.

Games: Current Wii U exclusives include (but are not limited to) Bayonetta 2, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Hyrule Warriors, The Legend of Zelda: the Wind Waker HD, Pikmin 3, Mario Kart 8, and ZombiU. This system has been out the longest, so a full title list is here.

There’s More Coming, Right: It is Nintendo so you can expect their continued support and library of famous franchises.

There’s Other Games to Play: Here is Nintendo’s Kryptonite zone. The company has long-held strained relationships with many third-party developers. While the Wii U has a strong library of first-party titles, expect to miss out on many of the larger releases.

I own a Wii, does that matter: Yes. The Wii U can play every Wii game in existence. You can also keep using your old wiimotes for certain titles.

Super Smash Bros for Wii U is the big holiday title this year from Nintendo.
Super Smash Bros for Wii U is the big holiday title this year from Nintendo.

3DS

Please see my article on the New 3DS to know my thoughts on whether or not you should buy one this holiday season.

3DS has a huge game library and is backwards compatible with regular DS games.
3DS has a huge game library and is backwards compatible with regular DS games.

PlayStation Vita

What the heck is a Vita: It is the Sony portable system.

How Much: At least $215.

For a Portable: Yeah, they’re not kidding.

Is that Price Likely to fall: The PlayStation Vita has not sold well since launch, selling roughly only 4 million units since launch. Sony may very well drop the price further if they continue support.

Games: Vita exclusives include Army Corps of Hell, Bullet Girls, Killzone: Mercenary, LittleBigPlanet PS Vita, Phantasy Star Nova, Silent Hill: Book of Memories, and Touch my Katamari.

There’s More Coming, Right: Sony has not discontinued plans for the PlayStation Vita so expect a sprinkling of games to come in the future.

There’s Other Games to Play: A full list of all titles playable on the PS Vita can be found here

I own a PSP, does that matter: Yes, so long as the title was downloaded and not physically purchased, it can be played on Vita.

Sony is trying to keep the Vita alive by integrating more with other hardware.
Sony is trying to keep the Vita alive by integrating more with other hardware.

A Gaming PC

How Much: A good PC can be built for as little as $300. Completed models usually run between $500 and $1000.

Is that Price Likely to fall: As newer and better PCs are released, prices fall accordingly.

Games: Pretty much everything you can think of, from now back through the last twenty years, provided it has been updated on services like Steam and Good Old Games.

There’s More Coming, Right: The PC will receive pretty much every major release going forward.

There’s Other Games to Play: The system also has an unmatched selection of Indie games. Provided you ever finish reliving the nostalgia of a back catalog that spans decades. Oh, there is also modding.

I already own a PC: Keep it upgraded and in working order and you can play anything.

Yeah, it is tough to argue against that library of classics old and new.
Yeah, it is tough to argue against that library of classics old and new.

So there you have it. As a non-PC gamer, I will say that I believe a gaming PC is by far the best option out there for those looking to play the most games and spend the least amount of money. Yes, the system itself may cost more initially but thanks to services like Steam, games are available at a fraction of the cost. For a gamer looking to play every major release out there, I recommend a gaming PC and a Wii U. Nintendo’s series are the only thing guaranteed to skip the PC market.

For those out there not tech savvy and not wanting to spend a ton: the 360 and PS3 are still supported systems. They receive practically all the same big releases as their next-gen counterparts.

How most PC gamers see themselves.
How most PC gamers see themselves.

 

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