Want to buy your kids a gaming platform for Christmas? Read this

MaltaToday broke down the options so you don’t have to: if you’re looking to buy a gaming system this Christmas, chances are you’re looking for advice, because the mere thought of forking out €300 for the brats is already burning a hole in your pocket

The battle over the best console happens every year between die hard fans of each piece of equipment
The battle over the best console happens every year between die hard fans of each piece of equipment

Most children these days would – scratch that – will ask for a gaming platform for Christmas. There’s always some new trend making the rounds during this season; a cool new toy, a returning fad like Furby or spinning tops… but games consoles and gaming platforms are always a perennial favourite.

And why not? Games consoles provide hours of unadulterated fun and multiple universes your child can get lost in. Games can be a form of expression, a way of socialising with peers, and a learning tool. And fun for all the family.  

But with so many gaming systems on the market, what platform should you purchase this Christmas? 

Playstation 4

Playstation 4
Playstation 4

We all know that the Playstation 4 is what most children would ask for. Why? The Playstation has made a name for itself with almost 25 years in the market and it is the most powerful console out there.  

Some would argue, however, that what ultimately matters are the games you’ll be playing on the console. The PS4 has released a range of worthy exclusives over its lifetime – God of War, Spider-Man, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, and Detroit: Become Human, amongst others.  

Any experienced player would notice that these are story-oriented games. Their replay value is limited despite their gorgeous and intelligent narratives. Still, statistics show that these are the bestselling games on PS4. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is the best-selling Playstation game of all time with over 8.7 million sales although it does have the weight of a ten-year old franchise to promote its name.  

With the PS4 you can also play the ever-popular FIFA games, Fortnite, Call of Duty and other multiplayer games. But for these, you’d have to purchase a yearly, online membership for €60 to be able to play online.

Sales for the PS4 games console keep rising with 18.41 million units sold in 2016, and 21.2 million units sold in 2017. The PS4 stands to become one of the best-selling systems of all time with a total of 86 million units sold.

But wait! With an approximately seven-year gap between each Playstation console release, we should be expecting the Playstation 5 by next year or 2020 at the very latest. You’ve been warned.

Xbox One

Xbox One
Xbox One

The next powerful console in terms of graphics is the Xbox One. Despite this undisputed fact, sales have diminished over time with a total number of consoles sold at 39.6 million, less than half of PS4 sales.  

But whether you’re interested in competitive gaming or surreal story-based adventures, the Xbox One still has a lot to offer with exclusive titles of which sales are also based on franchise popularity: Halo 5, Gears of War 4, and State of Decay 2.  

The Xbox One also offers novelty games, with titles like Cuphead, a bizarre and dreamlike indie adventure with an art style based on old Disney cartoons and the high octane and adrenaline-fueled online multiplayer Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, a last-man-standing battle-royale based on some luck, a lot of skill and tremendous patience.  

Like on the PS4, most multiplayer online games would require the Xbox Live membership for €60 per year.  

Since the Xbox One is a creation of Microsoft  however, the two latter novelty titles, while not on the better-selling PS4, are also available on the PC.

Which brings us to kind-of console number three.  

PC/Gaming Laptop

The MSI GS65 gaming laptop
The MSI GS65 gaming laptop

Laptops and PCs do much more than just gaming and are therefore not exclusively a console. This explains their price, with the best gaming laptop in the world according to PC Gamer and Tech Radar, the MSI GS65, priced at €1,579.99. Compare this to the slim €300 Playstation 4 and your choice will likely become much easier.

But another top gaming laptop, also an MSI, the GF63 8RC, is priced at €550 and guarantees you can play millions of games available on PC – including the best-selling games of all time, one of which is the already-mentioned Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, selling 24 million copies in 2017 alone and the always favourite Minecraft, selling 29 million copies in total.  

When it comes to Virtual Reality, which while still tentative is a popular newness in the gaming world, many PC games offer this option. So do consoles, but statistics once again show that PC games with VR potential sold more than console games with the same possibility, possibly because the PC offers much more variety.

It’s good to note that most gaming trends are influenced by ‘Let’s Players’ on YouTube, gaming personalities that play and stream their gaming experiences online.  

Undertale, for example, is a game made by a single person called Toby Fox – from the soundtrack to the story to the animations – and sold 3.5 million copies in total, more than a big-budget, blockbuster franchise game lately released on PS4: God of War.

For a truly powerful gaming laptop to render the most demanding current games, however, you’d need more than just the €550 MSI.
It really depends on what you’re aiming to play.

Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo 3DS (left) and Nintendo Switch (right)
The Nintendo 3DS (left) and Nintendo Switch (right)

There is no question that Nintendo takes the crown for handheld console, for quality games you can play on the road. The cheapest Nintendo 3DS kit is priced at €219, while the more modern Switch is priced at €334.  

For something that is yet to offer a catalogue of online games similar to the PS4’s, the Nintendo may seem overpriced especially with games averaging at €40 per title.  

But with 73.1 million units of Nintendo 3DS sold (and 21.8 million for Switch), almost twice the figure for that of Xbox One units, the Nintendo is still a popular console, the closest in terms of popularity to the PS4.  

The Nintendo offers thousands of games for purchase and the Switch now has the option to connect to the TV. It’s the only console you can plug out of the dock and play while on the road with four hours of gaming on a single charge.  

Most would argue that the mobile phone could accomplish as much and while the mobile phone sales revenue for games is the highest amongst all the other gaming platforms (at $50.4 billion when compared to the console games sales of $33.3 billion) the Nintendo offers the most popular games for a cheap price: Zelda, Super Mario, FIFA, even Fortnite and Undertale, and massive blockbuster games like Skyrim.

The verdict

If your child wants a VR headset and wants to delve into the world of virtual reality gaming, the PS4 offers this possibility, but with limitations. There are hundreds of PC games and downloadable games on the internet that can be used in conjunction with a VR headset and most of these games do not require powerful systems so a medium or low-range gaming laptop would suffice.

If you want a reliable games consoles that would run the latest games and story-oriented epics like Detroit: Become Human and God of War, the PS4 would trump the Xbox One both in terms of graphics and in terms of choice, even if a Playstation 5 is likely to make an appearance next year.

If your child would like to play online with his peers, a gaming laptop and a games console can do the trick but a games console is a cheaper and more reliable option and here, again, the PS4 would come out top. If your child’s friends all use the Xbox, however, he won’t be able to play with them if he has a different console.

If you’re looking for something to carry around, the Nintendo Switch is the best gaming console with that capability. You can plug it in, play online, play epic narrative games and do it outside the house. It’s cheaper than the most powerful PS4 but more expensive than the slim version of the Playstation.

It is most likely that gamers have already made their mind up before reading this article. And it also depends on what the child likes. Every child needs to develop a relationship with his gaming system as it evolves with him. He’s likely to pick one for life. For myself, it was the Playstation but my greatest gaming experiences have always been on a PC. 

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