Choosing A Game Console
|Console gaming is more popular now than ever
before, but the choice of which system to buy is harder now than it was
back in the days of Atari, Intellevision, and ColecoVision. In the past
few years Nintendo's Wii, Sony's Playstation 3 and Microsoft's Xbox
have sold millions of units. Libraries of games for all three systems
have hundreds of titles with many being common between the systems
there are also many games that are exclusive to one of the systems. The
Nintendo Wii is considered to be the most family friendly. The games on
the Xbox 360 on the other hand consist of a lot of first person
One of the the most important things in this generation of video game systems is the ability to play with and against other players over the Internet. Getting a video game console on the Internet only requires a broadband connection and a router. All three systems support online gaming. Just like with networking computers, game consoles are hooked up using Ethernet or WiFi. Only the Playstation 3 supports both Ethernet and WiFi out of the box. The Xbox 360 has built in Ethernet and the Wii has onboard WiFi. For the Xbox 360 player who doesn't have the desire to run Ethernet cable Microsoft provides a WiFi adapter that plugs into the USB port of the back of the 360 for about a hundred dollars. For those who prefer the Wii who don't use WiFi, have Ethernet adapters from a few third party vendors that hook up to the USB port on the back of the Wii that sell for about twenty five dollars.
Getting a console online is a one time occurrence but paying to play online isn't on the Xbox 360. A subscription for the Xbox live online service costs about sixty dollars a year. Extra downloadable content will cost extra paid through a points system where prepaid cards are purchased at most electronics stores that handle video games. Points are deducted as users download content such as game demos, extra songs for Guitar Hero or Rock band.
On the Wii a similar point system is in place to download games from previous generations of Nintendo consoles from the Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Nintendo and Nintendo 64. Other game developers have tapped into Nintendo's points system to allow players to download additional songs for both Guitar Hero: World Tour and Rock Band 2.
For the playstation 3 playing online is completely free but very little extra downloadable content is available up to this point. Rumours of a pre-paid points system have been rumoured but has yet to materialize.
Ever since the Sega Genesis back about fifteen years ago better graphics was the selling term used by every company who put out a video game console. Both the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3 support high definition and game developers use it well. High Definition isn't supported on the Wii. The Wii only supports 480i (interlace) and 480p (progressive). Nintendo claims that only supported standard definition on the Wii to hold down the cost of the Wii. High definition support would also increase the size of the console and power consumption. It is believed that casual gamers that are attracted to the Wii often play on standard definition TV sets, often using a second TV set in the house which are seldom high definition. A successor to the Wii rumored to hit stores in 2011 is supposed to be high definition capable.
It's All About the Games
One of the largest factors that buyers of console gamers use to decide which machine they will buy to play on is the library of games. The Wii has typically has typically considered to best library of kid friendly games. Nintendo has targeted the everybody but the stereotypical hardcore video game nerd segment of the population with the Wii.
Mature rated first person shooters are the dominate the library of games for the Xbox 360. So there are so many shooter type games that Microsoft's latest marketing push during Christmas shopping season of 2008 promoted the Xbox 360 as being family friendly. Bundling the E rated Kung Fu Panda and Lego Indiana Jones games.
The Playstation 3 has more even variety of games of many genres. Sports and car racing games are the most popular on the PS3. There are family games such as Little Big Planet that isn't available for the Wii, and there are shooters such as Resistance 2 that isn't on the Xbox 360.
An important determining factors when players had to upgrade their consoles to the current generation of hardware is the ability to run their games that they have collected over the years. The ability of a console to play games designed for a console from the previous generation goes back to the playstation 2. Backwards compatibility is something that was originally intended to be put into the playstation 3. When the Playstation 3 launched only the more expensive 60 GB version of the PS3 had the ability to play games designed for the Playstation 2 and not all Playstation 2 games ran on the Playstation 3. Sony has since pulled backward compatibility out of all PS 3's.
Nintendo has embraced backwards compatibility for the first time with the Wii. Games for the Game cube can be inserted right into the disk drive of the Wii. A lid at the top of the Wii opens up to expose ports for the controllers and a memory card from the game cube. Nintendo goes one step beyond by selling games from the Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Nintendo and the Nintendo 64 online.
The Pro and Elite versions of Xbox 360 also has backwards compatibility with games for the original Xbox, but the Arcade version does not.
One of the most distinctive features of the current generation of game consoles is the controllers. The Wii Remote is probably the most distinctive and innovative controllers in the history of console gaming. The Wii remote takes 2 AA batteries. Many third party companies have released rechargeable batteries and charging stations for the Wii Remotes.
The controllers for the playstation 3 have rechargeable batteries built right in, the downside of the PS3 controller's rechargeable batteries is that they are not user replaceable, so that means that when the batteries will no longer hold a charge the entire controller will need to be replaced.
The wireless controller for the Xbox 360 comes with two AA batteries out of the box but can take a rechargeable battery that Microsoft makes for the wireless controller. When the wireless controller battery will no longer hold a charge there is no need to replace the entire controller just replace the battery.
The other feature that makes the controllers for the Wii and the Playstation 3 distinctive is motion control. Moving the controller controls the games. Motion control is not yet available on the Xbox 360. Motion control is a feature that Microsoft could implement into the Xbox 360, it would mean that players would have to replace all their controllers with motion sensitive controllers. Because of the expensive of having to put out a new controller, and update existing Xbox 360's for motion control, this is a feature that Microsoft is likely to wait until launching the Xbox 720 in 2011.
Beyond Playing Games
Both Sony and Microsoft are positioning their systems and not just game playing machines but as home multimedia centers. Sony is selling the Playstation 3 as a Blu-Ray player as well as a game player. Microsoft is taking a different approach to playing high definition movies, after getting burnt by the death of HD-DVD Microsoft and NetFlix is distributing movies online over Xbox live. The Xbox 360 is also a digital media extender so anything on a media centre
PC can be streamed from the PC to the Xbox 360 to be viewed on the TV.
Nintendo takes a different approach, their game machines only play games and nothing else.
Often times one of the biggest things that affects the purchase of a game console system especially for budget minded families is cost. The cost of a system and extra accessories such as extra controllers can start at a few hundred and just go up from there. Currently the lowest priced console is the Arcade version of the Xbox 360. The price is around $199.99. The Xbox 360 Arcade comes without a hard drive but does comes with a 256 MB memory module. There is one wireless controller that comes with Arcade.
At $279.99 is the Nintendo Wii, available in only one configuration. The Wii comes with 512 MB of built in flash memory. The Wii comes with one remote controller and one nunchuk. The Xbox 360 pro comes in at $299.99. The Pro comes with a 60 GB hard drive and one wireless controller. Both the 80 GB Playstation 3 and 120 GB Xbox 360 Elite come in at $399.99. At the high end of the price scale is the 160 GB Playstation 3 running at $519.99
Choosing a gaming system many factors need to be considered, the games that you wish to play, the abilities to network for online play, backward compatibility and budget. Taking all that into consideration then the choice is easy.