Because the technology and trends in the video game world change faster than other consumer products it can seem hard to keep up. However, this change isn’t as confusing as it first appears.
Firstly, the video game consoles and handheld devices on which you play games are relatively static. Each of these platforms are updated every five to ten years or so. Within the lifespan of a particular gaming console or handheld there are usually a few different versions.
For instance the Xbox 360 was initially release late in 2005. It then had an update in June 2010 that offered a slimmer more compact version. There was no difference to the games it could play, but the compact version was more cost effective to manufacture and offered consumers more built in features like wireless internet.
In addition to the different versions of a particular console or handheld device, they are also sold in different packs. These vary in price that relates to what they offer. Some packs provide additional games and focus on a lower price, like the Arcade 360. Other packs offer more storage for games and movies, like the Elite 360.
As a rule all the different packs are able to play any of the Xbox 360 games on offer. Some particular features, like being able to play online, sometimes rely on storing the game locally and having wireless internet access that need to be purchased in addition to the console. For instance the original 360 didn’t come with a wireless internet feature so had to be plugged into an internet connection manually or be used with a wireless adapter that was purchased separately.
To choose the right console, and the right configuration for your family you should take the following into consideration:
- Does the console/handheld play the games you like? Some games are exclusive to a particular console, like Wii-Sports, Gran Turismo or Halo.
- How long has the console been available for? Brand new consoles will cost more, while older consoles may be updated in the near future.
- How do you connect it to the Internet for online play? Some consoles require a certain sort of internet connection or additional hardware.
- What are the different cost options available? It may be that a large amount of storage or a limited edition console is not required by your family and this can save money.
- How many controllers do I need to buy? Considering the types of games you play and number of people in your family, you should factor in the cost of buying additional controllers.
- How much space do I need to play it? With motion sensitive controls like the Nintendo Wii, Xbox Kinect and PlayStation Move you should check you have enough space in your home to play the games before making your decision.
- Does it require the Television screen? With more technology being used in the living room, consoles (like the Wii U) and handhelds (3DS and PS Vita for example) that don’t lock up the TV can be a benefit to families.
These considerations, reading around the subject and talking to other families with children of a similar age will ensure you choose a console that will work best for you.
[banner image credit: flickr/samcatchesides]