With the holiday season in full swing, console juggernauts Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft are putting in their best efforts to lure consumers toward their newest products, and leave their past-generation consoles in the dust.
Many gamers, young and old, and parents too have been reluctant to purchase a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One since their launch in 2013, or a Wii U for the past two years.
Multi-generation releases of many games and the lackluster launches of the various consoles, plagued by interface hiccups and first-party title delays over the past year, was a transition period, to put things lightly, but the time has never been more opportune to purchase a snappy new video game system.
Holiday savings on quality releases and special console bundles provide potential buyers the greatest incentives yet, especially with a slew of incredible titles available now, more to come in the near future and smooth, glitch-free experiences, both for gaming and entertainment.
Each console has specific qualities that make them unique, and gamers will be attracted to certain ones depending on what they value most.
Performance, versatility in terms of additional entertainment functions, a user-friendly interface, multiplayer gaming experience, premium online subscription incentives and exclusive titles are among the many things to consider when purchasing a new game system.
Xbox One (Microsoft) – Released on November 22, 2013
The Xbox One went through a transformative pre-launch timeframe, from a game-sharing, always-on “Big Brother” machine to a somewhat less progressive, more rounded entertainment gaming hybrid experience.
Microsoft’s system provides multi-tasking functions through the option to plug in a cable box via HDMI, and intuitive voice and motion-controls with the impressively capable camera, the Kinect 2.0.
With currently available and future Halo titles, and eventually expected, highly anticipated Gears Of War console-exclusive titles, the system has a huge fanbase founded on the successes of those franchises. While the graphics might fall a marginal second to the Sony console, I consider the interface of Microsoft’s to be much more user-friendly.
Before this fall, Xbox One was consistently coming in second to the PlayStation 4, until Microsoft made a drastic change in June this year to their console product options and the access to entertainment apps like Netflix and HBO Go, which were once exclusive to Xbox Live Gold subscribers.
It first released to a mixed response and has since released a model without the Kinect to compete with the initially-priced $400 PS4, which as of Black Friday this year, has begun to take its reign at the top of console sales.
At most holiday retailers, including places like Best Buy and Gamestop, bundles including stellar titles from the Assassin’s Creed franchise or others like Madden 15 go for $350 without the Kinect and $450 with the device.
PlayStation 4 (Sony) – Released on November 15, 2013
PlayStation 4 released a week earlier than the Xbox One, and up until recently, consistently topped the monthly console sales rankings.
Sony’s powerful system opened up strong initially with a variety of launch titles like Killzone: Shadow Fall and a strong base of exclusive free-to-play offerings including the massive multiplayer shooter Planetside 2.
PS4’s improved online multiplayer experience and user interface, with eventual TV subscription options boasts a considerable offering against Xbox One‘s capabilities. Sony’s no slouch when it comes to upcoming console-exclusives either.
PlayStation 4 exclusive titles have their share of fans, and some are already available like Little Big Planet 3 and Infamous: Second Son, or upcoming, like entries in the Ratchet And Clank and Uncharted game universes.
For gamers who take pride in the graphical output and sheer performance of their console, the PS4 seems to be the system of choice, and boasts the standard entertainment capabilities like apps and Blu-ray playback.
There are not that many bargain-priced deals on Sony’s console like Microsoft’s or Nintendo’s holiday offerings, but for around $500, gamers can walk away or order online a bundle with multiple games or a game and an extra controller.
Wii U (Nintendo) – Released on November 18, 2012
Nintendo and the Wii U may lack in graphics and multi-console titles, but the system has begun to make up ground with a strong offering of classic franchise games and a creative, tablet controller.
The Wii U released a whole year earlier than its competitors in the console industry, and the device shows its age in terms of performance and potential, and initially did not sell very well.
With an excellent overhaul of the system interface and Nintendo exclusive games already available from classic franchises like Zelda, Mario, Super Smash Bros., Mario Kart and many more, Nintendo has built up a strong offering of titles over the course of its two years.
The Wii U’s controller, the GamePad, is a fascinating tablet, non-touch screen device that has dual-screen supplement features for both gaming and entertainment.
There have been a number of games that have not released on the Wii U like the latest Call Of Duty or Assassin’s Creed, but the system’s controller and old-fashioned fun titles make it a great casual gaming system.
Nintendo is sporting a number of different holiday bundles available at multiple online and physical retailers, with many as low as $299 plus tax that come with a game like The Legend Of Zelda: Wind Waker HD or 3D Super Mario World.