What to buy Little Johnny for Christmas — Simple comparison of Playstation 3 vs Microsoft Xbox 360 vs Nintento Wii
It’s a great time to be a gamer (if your pocketbook is big enough), but a horrible time to be a parent. The Next Gen console war is on full swing starting next weekend and people are going to be confused at what to buy. Engadget has a nice pictorial view of the different consoles (the Wii is so small). Paul Stamatiou goes off-topic and talks about why the Wii will be a success.
Read more to find out how the type of TV set and backwards compatibility can help you make your choice. Factor the hidden costs of ownership into your budget.
What kind of TV do you have?
Here’s a *very* simple guide for what to buy this holiday season: look at your TV. Is it a High Definition TV? If the answer is “yes” then goto Xbox 360 or Playstation 3. If “no” then goto Nintendo Wii.
Video games are designed for the maximum resolution of the video game system. This means that fonts can be unreadable / games can have issues when playing with standard definition televisions. The back of the game box will mention what resolutions it supports, but this can be misleading (and who remembers to check?)
If that isn’t enough of a deciding factor about what to buy, look at what gaming systems/consoles your gamer has already been playing.
What gaming systems do you already have?
- Playstation 3 can play PS1 or PS2 games.
- Xbox 360 can play Xbox games.
- Nintendo Wii can play Nintendo GameCube games and connect to the portable Nintendo DS (some games can use it as a touchscreen/microphone controller).
- The Nintendo Wii can play old games for the NES, Super NES, Nintendo 64, Sega Genesis and TurboGrafx16 consoles, but you will have to download them and pay for them again (even if you already own it).
Which console is best?
The short answer is that they’re all good — it depends on your needs.
- Playstation 3 has the highest technical specs, costs the most, and will be the least available for buying.
- Note: you can buy both and Xbox 360 and a Wii for the price of a Playstation 3.
- Xbox 360 has the mid-range technical specs, mid-range cost, and is widely available for buying.
- Nintendo Wii has the lowest technical specs (but the most innovative game controller), lowest cost, and is supposed to be widely available for buying.
Be aware of the hidden costs
- Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 have low-end/high-end packages.
- Don’t buy the basic packages. You will inevitably have to buy one of the missing components that would have been included for free in the high-end package. This one missing component would easily match the price difference.
- The divide between the low-end/high-end packaged on the Playstation 3 isn’t as bad as on the Xbox 360.
- Factor the cost of accessories into your budget.
- Remember that you need something to save games! Most consoles don’t come with a mechanism for storing save games out of the box.
Real cost of a console — Xbox 360 case study
A couple of months ago I won a free Xbox 360. Here’s a list of what I’ve spent on the console since then. Prices are in Canadian dollars. BestBuy.ca used for the current price of the components.
- Xbox 360 basic (free, regular cost $399)
- Compared to high-end package: 1 wired controller (not wireless), no games, no way to save games, no HD TV cables, no headset.
- 1 Wireless controller – $55
- 1 Wired controller – $45
- 3 controllers in total including the one that came with the system.
- 20 GB hard drive – $130
- This is truly ridiculous. It has only 12 GB of usable space. I could buy a 300 GB hard drive for my computer at the same price. It only looks reasonable compared to a 64 MB memory unit for $45.
- Video games ($40-$70 each)
- In the 3 months I’ve had my 360 I’ve bought Dead Rising ($65), Xbox Live Arcade ($40), Dead or Alive 4 ($65), Table Tennis ($45), Marvel Ultimate Alliance ($65) and Lego Starwars 2 ($55)
- My most played / favorite games have been Dead Rising, Dead or Alive 4, and Marvel Ultimate Alliance.
Always expect to pay more than just the price of the base system. It gets expensive very fast.
If you’re a parent buying a console as a gift for your child, go with the Nintendo Wii. If you are getting an Xbox 360 / Playstation 3, plan on upgrading to an HD TV set within the same year.
Parents make sure that what ever you buy it includes a way to save games (hard drive or memory unit), cables to connect to your TV (composite, component, SVideo, HDMI, etc) and a game your child wants to play. It is a good idea to buy a game as well as the system, and the ones that are given for free are usually only so-so. You will probably also want to play multiplayer games on the Internet, so that will include a monthly subscription fee.
If consoles are too expensive, I also heartily recommend the Nintendo DS portable gaming system. I was very surprised at how fun it is to play (Brain Age and Animal Crossing are my girlfriend’s favs).
If you’re looking to read more about this subject, check out Yahoo! Video Games report on the Next Gen Console War and this list of the key difference between the low-end and high-end systems for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.