There are many important factors when choosing a new video game console. Obviously, price and the types of games you want to play are key considerations. Another practical and very important issue is what your friends have. While there are more cross-platform games than ever, if all your friends own an Xbox and you own a PlayStation, you may not be able to play with them.
Also be aware that Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch all have different exclusive games. For instance, if you really like Mario games, keep in mind you can play them only on a Nintendo console. Buying a video game console is a big investment and should be treated as such. This guide will help you make an informed decision about the video game consoles, games, and accessories that are right for you.
Features of Xbox Series X|S.
Released by Microsoft in late 2020, the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S consoles have made their mark on the gaming world. Both offer gaming at up to 120 frames per second, backward compatibility with thousands of games, Dolby Vision and Dolby True HD with a compatible display, and Direct X Raytracing.
The Xbox Series X is the most powerful Xbox console ever made. It has 12 teraflops of raw graphic processing power and 1TB SSD internal storage. Plus, it delivers true 4K gaming. This means your games look and play better, delivering a more realistic, immersive experience.
Compact, but powerful, the Xbox Series S delivers next-gen gaming performance in the smallest Xbox ever. It has 4 teraflops processing power and 512GB internal storage. A digital-only console, it plays only digital downloads.
Xbox features an impressive roster of exclusive titles, including Halo, Gears of War, Forza and more. Further, Xbox has gone to great lengths to ensure compatibility across the newer Xbox Series X|S and the older Xbox One consoles. Xbox Series X|S consoles are backward compatible with previous generations of Xbox games. Therefore, you will likely be able to play the Xbox One and Xbox 360 games you already own.
Xbox also features Smart Delivery. If you own an Xbox game with the Smart Delivery icon on the box, you will be ensured of playing the best available version of the game, whether you play on the Xbox Series X|S or Xbox One.
Xbox Game Pass.
Instead of buying a game that may not live up to your expectations, think about getting Xbox Game Pass instead. With Xbox Game Pass, you can access more than 100 high-quality games, with new titles added regularly. Xbox Game Pass also includes an EA Play membership, which gives you access to popular sports games like the Madden, FIFA, UFC and NHL franchise games. You can also play new Xbox Game Studios games the same day they release.
An Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription offers even more by giving you the excellent games of Xbox Game Pass along with the multiplayer network of Xbox Live Gold.
Xbox All Access.
Features of PlayStation 5.
Gamers looking for an immersive experience can find it with the PlayStation 5 (PS5) from Sony. There are two versions available — the PS5 and PS5 Digital Edition. The PS5 plays both physical and digital games. As the name implies, the PS5 Digital Edition plays only digital games. Released in late 2020, these consoles are recent additions to the gaming world, and both deliver fast loading, an ultra-high-speed solid-state drive (SSD), and integrated input/output (I/O). These features give game designers more options to create amazing, immersive games.
One exciting element of the PS5 is the DualSense wireless controller that’s included with each console. With the DualSense controller, gamers will experience haptic feedback and adaptive triggers while playing. Practically speaking, this means the controller can vibrate in response to action from the game. You may feel recoil from shooting a weapon or different levels of force and resistance while making moves within the game.
Features of Nintendo Switch.
Due to its versatility, portability and roster of fun games, the Nintendo Switch has captivated all types of gamers since its release in 2017. You can dock the Switch to your television and play games in console mode. You can also remove it from the dock and play on the go in handheld or tabletop modes. You can even connect multiple Switch systems together and enjoy face-to-face multiplayer competition.
If you want to play games only in handheld mode and don’t need to hook up to a TV, consider the Nintendo Switch Lite. This console, which costs less than the traditional Switch, is designed specifically for handheld play and is available in a variety of vibrant colors. Any Switch game that works in handheld mode will play on a Nintendo Switch Lite.
Nintendo Switch games.
Nintendo Switch Online.
The extras that take games to the next level.
When you buy a new video game console, a controller will be included in the box. Once you have a game, you can start playing as soon as you have the console connected to your TV. While a controller is a critical gaming accessory, other accessories can enhance your overall experience. Gaming accessories include gear such as headsets, extra controllers, charging stations, memory devices, carrying cases and much more.
One thing to keep in mind when shopping for accessories is the brand. A first-party product is made by the same company that developed the console it’s for — Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo. Third-party products are made by companies such as Logitech, Astro Gaming, PowerA, Turtle Beach and others. One major difference between the two can be price. For example, a controller developed by Sony or Microsoft or Nintendo will usually cost more than a third-party’s version.
While video gaming is primarily a visual medium, there is no doubt that your auditory experience matters a great deal as well. For a fully captivating experience, many gaming aficionados use a gaming headset while playing. When playing solo, you may be able to better hear an enemy’s approach. When you play with a squad, you can communicate with your teammates using a headset with mic.
If you plan to wear a headset for extended periods, you’ll find that the leather, mesh and foam materials found in higher-end headsets deliver a more comfortable experience. If you like to move around while you play games, you will definitely prefer a wireless headset over a wired model. Above all, you will want to check to see if the headset you want is compatible with your console. While some headsets are made for multiple platforms, most are playable with only one type of console.
Cameras and game capture devices.
More gaming accessories.
Video gaming on the computer.
Benefits of digital games.
While many gamers would rather own physical copies of their games, there’s no question that the popularity of digital games is on the rise. Gamers can play digital games on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X|S, as well as last-gen consoles such as Xbox One and PlayStation 4. In fact, both Xbox and PlayStation offer consoles that play only digital games.
If you’re thinking of making the move to digital, there are some good reasons to support that decision. First, digital games are convenient. You can buy, download, and play a digital game without leaving your couch. Second, with digital games, you can pre-order and preinstall new releases and play them the same day they are released.
Gaming isn’t just for consoles anymore.
In recent years, gaming on mobile devices has exploded in popularity. Games such as PUBG Mobile, Subway Surfers and Candy Crush Saga have been downloaded by hundreds of millions across the world. Many gamers want to expand their mobile gaming repertoire to games traditionally played on consoles, and now this option is available. For instance, if you play on an Android mobile device, you can purchase Xbox Game Pass then download and play select Xbox games on your phone or tablet.
While many players prefer to touch their screen to control the action, others find that gaming accessories make it easier to play. The most popular mobile gaming accessories are clips and controllers. You can mount your smartphone to the clip and then play the games on an attached video game controller. Many mobile gamers also look into cloud services to deliver a better gaming experience.
A new frontier in gaming.
It’s too soon to make predictions, but cloud gaming could make purchasing physical or digital video games obsolete. With cloud-based gaming, players stream games the same way they would stream a movie on Netflix or another streaming service. Many tech companies have thrown their hats in the cloud gaming ring.
One example is Google Stadia, a cloud-based service that allows gameplay on nearly any screen you own. Xbox gamers who have an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription can also enjoy cloud gaming. PlayStation Now is another cloud service that lets users stream hundreds of classic PlayStation titles. Given the investments in game-streaming technology, it is likely that cloud gaming will be a larger part of gaming going forward.
Going back to the roots.
Even though gaming becomes more technologically advanced every year, there are still gamers who like to keep it simple. For many, nothing beats the fun of playing vintage games from the 1980s and 1990s. Arcade1Up has re-created arcade classics from this era — the only difference is that you don’t have to insert a quarter to play. Arcade classics such as Ms. Pac-Man, Big Buck Hunter and Golden Tee can be great fun for anyone.
You may also want to try your hand at retro console games. In past years, PlayStation, Sega, Nintendo and others have released re-creations of classic consoles from the 1990s, complete with titles preinstalled. Keep your eyes open for limited releases of retro pinball and other special edition games in the future.
Make the most of your old games.
This buying guide has discussed the latest consoles for Xbox and PlayStation. If you’re thinking about investing in a new console, you may be concerned about whether or not your old games will play on them. Rest assured; in most cases, they will.
Xbox Series X|S: Xbox has confirmed that nearly every Xbox One title — and even many Xbox 360 and original Xbox games — will be playable on Xbox Series X|S. Your Xbox One games may even feature faster frame rates and increased screen resolution when played on these next-gen consoles.
PlayStation 5: According to Sony, the overwhelming majority of PS4 games can be played on the PS5. Some of these PS4 games may run with higher or smoother frame rates.
Nintendo Switch: Games for Nintendo Wii U, the last-generation console, are not compatible with Switch or Switch Lite.
A worthy option.
The previous generation of consoles is referred to as last-gen. This includes the Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo 3DS and Wii U. While software support eventually slows down and stops for last-gen consoles, you may still be able to play for some time to come on a last-gen console.
Not only are these consoles better suited for the budget-conscious, but you’ll likely have plenty of games to choose from when shopping for your next adventure.
Plus, when and if you decide to upgrade, consoles such as the Xbox Series X|S and PS5 will let you play some or all of your old games, instantly increasing your game library.
Gaming and your television.
Do you need to upgrade your setup?
Xbox Series X|S and PS5 are capable of delivering a completely immersive gaming experience. In fact, with some games, these consoles can play at 4K resolution and 60 frames per second (fps). To experience these consoles the way they were meant to be played, you may need to update parts of your home theater system.
If you have a next-gen console but don’t yet have a TV that will support 4K gaming, consider getting one. A TV that supports 4K gaming will allow you to fully appreciate the features of your console. If you want to go even further, think about getting an A/V receiver that is able to support your television, gaming console, speakers and other elements of your home theater. HDMI cables are another valuable purchase.
Play like a pro.
Warranties and services.
Geek Squad® Protection.
When you purchase a video game console or accessory at Best Buy, you can choose to enhance your manufacturer’s warranty with a 2-year Accidental Geek Squad Replacement Protection Plan. If your product breaks, is accidentally damaged, or requires replacement due to normal wear and tear or defects, you can get a replacement product.
In addition, if you would like help setting up your console or getting faster Wi-Fi for multiplayer gaming, check out our video game services.