If you’re a parent then you’re probably wondering which route to take when it comes to buying the perfect gaming related presents this Christmas. First you need to decide what you’re actually after. Are you on the lookout for a new game console? Some games? Or perhaps some accessories? This article will help you to decide what’s hot and what’s not. Of course, price will also be a major factor for many, simply click on the bold links to see the prices of the discussed products.
Purchasing holiday electronics used to be fairly easy; you’d just make a choice between the leading two or more consoles and be done with it. These choices were often further facilitated by way of whatever game(s) a manufacturer might be promoting at any given time. While things are still largely the same there have been some major curveballs thrown into the mix as of late, namely – there are SO MANY options out there these days. In fact, each console often takes on all the popular cross-platform titles, so it’s not even as if there’s too much of a difficult decision to make. One shouldn’t forget about exclusives though, those special games, apps or services which may not be found on any other system (they can make all the different in the world). Not surprisingly, 2014 has been a very active year for this particular market too, which again, makes the decision-making process all the more difficult. That’s why we’ve put together the ultimate 2014 video game buying guide, to help parents make the most informed decision(s) possible…
The heavy hitters
Chances are, if you’re purchasing a new console for your child then they probably want whatever’s currently fresh on the market. Among your choices here are Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One. Needless to say, both machines are extremely powerful and feature very polished experiences overall, from the moment you turn it on to when you use voice commands to switch them off. Performance, ease of access and usability are key here, not to mention the fact that these are indeed the biggest brand names out there.
If the sales figures are an indication of anything it’s that the PS4 is one hot commodity right now. Leading up to now (late November 2014) it has sold no less than 10 million units, in fact. Compare this with the Xbox One’s still impressive 5 million units and it becomes obvious that most see Sony’s console as the better choice overall. The PlayStation 4 is slightly more powerful, quite a bit smaller and doesn’t come with a power brick, unlike the XBOX One – these reasons alone might help you to decide on getting the PS4 ahead of the XBOX One. Still though, both machines are truly fantastic and picking up either one certainly wouldn’t be a mistake. As we’ve previously seen, their rivalry basically boils down to what games they might be offering (exclusives). Both consoles have their own unique titles which you won’t be able to play unless you’re on board.
For a complete list of 8th generation console exclusives, click here.
Certainly there’s also the potential of Sony’s ongoing “project Morpheus” experiment to burst onto the scene and change all the rules in the near future. For those who aren’t familiar with it, we’re talking about a complete integrated VR system (virtual reality) for the console which makes it seem as though you’re actually in the game. Assuming that they complete it this year and put it out to market, you’re probably going to want a PS4, no? At the same time, Microsoft is also doing wonderful things and have all sorts of interesting things planned for 2014 as well.
Last generation, but still awesome and going strong
On the other hand, who said you had to invest in the latest thing going? The thing about recently released hardware like video game consoles is that it often takes a while for lots of great, tried, true and tested software to drop for them. This isn’t a problem of course if you simply elect to pick up a 7th gen machine like the Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U or Wii. Each one of these consoles has an incredible library of titles to its credit, and even better, you can often pick up multiple games at extremely reduced prices. Assuming that you do elect to go this route be sure to look at blockbuster GOTY (game of the year) edition releases. Furthermore, there are lots of current AAA offerings to please even the most discriminating gamer (game makers are still releasing versions for last gen consoles, fyi).
Here’s a good place to start looking, click here.
Naturally, if your little gamer prefers Nintendo products or the sort of action found in consoles like the Wii or Wii U, there’s something else to consider. Heck, why not pick up two 7th generation consoles and have all of your bases covered? They’re going fairly cheaply now and all feature plenty of horsepower in the graphics department not to mention full compatibility with HD televisions and the aforementioned awesome game libraries…
Handhelds and others
There are also lots of great handhelds out there like the Nintendo 3Ds, Nvidia Shield or even the PS Vita to check out. Whether or not grabbing one of these (again) depends entirely upon the tastes of gamer it is meant for. Assuming that they love portable gaming and games, this is definitely the way to go. It should also be noted that, at least in the case of the PS Vita, that it allows for cross-play, which means that it can actually connect with and share astounding features with it bigger sibling, the PlayStation 4.
You can also stuff stockings with cheap but incredibly cool set top streaming consoles like the Ouya. It may not be quite as mainstream or powerful as the other consoles, but it still has a lot to offer and makes for an excellent travel companion as well. Of course, many will want to pick one up simply because they’re around $100 and allow for gaming as well as other streaming entertainment services (which means you can use it like a little media center, if you wish, which is pretty convenient).
Games to look for
You want to get the best bang for your buck, right? That’s why you should try to pick one game from each “category”, in order to be as diverse as possible. Here are the basic archetypes:
- Open world sandboxes – titles like Grand Theft Auto V or Skyrim fit into this category. They offer great graphics and an incredibly detailed and large world to run around in exploring and solving missions / quests.
- Shooter – If you’re going to be looking for a shooter game for the 2014 holiday season it has to be Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Not only is it one of the hottest titles out there right now but its popularity is also well-deserved, overall.
- Sports – These are always specific, but offerings like NBA 2k15, FIFA 15 or Madden NFL 15 are your best bets.
- Racing – There’s plenty of great driving / racing titles out there too, like the Need for Speed series, as well as XBOX exclusive Forza, and PlayStation exclusive Driveclub (not that impressive). Look for an open world driving game called The Crew, if possible (it arrives in early December).
- Nonstandard – Likewise, there are all sorts of truly weird and wonderful games out there (for every console). Some of these might only be found online though, so consider purchasing points or a gift card of some kind that your kid can use to download the content they want after the fact.
- Indie – Games like the wildly successful Minecraft might fit into this category. Having said that, yeah, definitely pick that one up (which is really easy since it’s found on nearly every platform now).
Accessories are also another area that you shouldn’t ignore. Check these out:
Top Accessories for the XBOX One
Awesome Accessories Every Wii U Owner Should Have
The Top 3 Steering Wheels for XBOX One
Top Headsets that are compatible with the XBOX One
Top 10 PS4 Compatible Keyboards
The Best PS4 Premium Headsets That Money Can Buy This Year
The best PS4 Headsets for those on a Budget
As always, it’s never a good idea to simply purchase a console without knowing what your child really wants. Every gamer out there probably has a horror story about how their parents might have misread their signals and picked up the wrong machine, only to be left disappointed on Christmas morning. The point is – don’t let that happen, do your homework.