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Buying a game console in 2020

nickytonline profile image Nick Taylor (he/him) Originally published at iamdeveloper.com Updated on ・1 min read

So I have an XBox 360, which is ten years old. I’ve been able to get games via online classifieds and Amazon sometimes, but I’m realizing they’re harder to find and starting to become more expensive than probably just buying a new console.

I’m not a huge gamer, so I have no idea what is the best console out there. PS 4? XBox One? Switch? etc.

For all the gamers out there, what’s your gaming console recommendations?

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andrewbrown profile image
Andrew Brown 🇨🇦

The best gaming console is PC.

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nickytonline profile image
Nick Taylor (he/him) Author

That definitely sounds good, but I don't think I could justify to myself souping up a gamer PC after having just bought the new MacBook Pro for work back in January. 😉

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Utkarsh Talwar

I totally understand. But I think the biggest advantage of building a gaming PC is the upgradability. You can just start with a basic build. Plenty of awesome guides on Youtube, too! And you can check the virtual benchmarks here: userbenchmark.com/PCBuilder

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Livan Jimenez

trust in the pc master race! Small investment for a big return

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nickytonline profile image
Nick Taylor (he/him) Author

I should have specified some criteria. My kids need to be able to play Just Dance on it, so most likely, I am limited to out of the box consoles. 😃

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Félix Dion-Robidoux

A Wii can play the latest Just Dance games. Plus a youtube video does the job for those games, they probably won't care about their score 😆

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thiagomgd profile image
Thiago Margarida

Agree on youtube! Used to do this a couple years back in college

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r911 profile image
Rahul Singh

Given that you are quite price cautious, your only option is a console. (Any entry level gaming PC will cost > $500) . Then it basically breaks down to your budget :

$200-400 : pick PS4 (for exclusive games) or Xbox (gamepass extra monthly cost)

Greater than $450 : Wait for PS5/Xbox Series X as both are backwards compatible (cheaper games).

My 2 cents: if you don't want to spend more than $200 get this generation console (PS4/XBox) else wait for next generation.

You won't be able to buy any console right now due to Covid-19 anyway.

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Nick Taylor (he/him) Author

Thanks for the info Rahul!

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axelledrouge profile image
AxelleDRouge

PC x Switch = all that I needs :)
I love my Switch with great gaming experience, wherever I am, with games like Breath of the Wild, Dead Cells, or Celeste, I'm looking for a new good platformer like Donkey Kong
But I also play on PC for managements games, MMORPG, or just many things on Steam really.
oh just for the records, many PC games are coming on Switch and are great <3

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Tomek Buszewski

What games do you play? Or want to play?

My favorite this generation is PS4, but this is mostly due to souls-like games I play on it, plus God of War, Uncharted 4 and Bloodborne. Xbox has, in my opinion, weaker exclusives, Gears 5 is a let-down for me.

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nickytonline profile image
Nick Taylor (he/him) Author

It’s more for the entire family. I’m not a huge gamer myself, so I’d probably opt for an out of the box console over a PC even if it’s more souped up. 😉

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Tomek Buszewski

I am asking, because if you want something for everyone, games for adults and kids, I'd opt for Xbox. PlayStation 4 strikes me less of a casual.

But if you'd like something not quite obvious, take Switch. It has so many great games, you'll be thrilled. But it comes for a price – you won't play the newest Call of Duty or other huge titles like that.

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Brian Bethencourt

TL:DR; I personally recommend the Switch as the Everyman's console, but I don't believe there is a "best" console. You should look into the games that you want to play and find the right console for you. Playstation tends to have more adult titles, while Nintendo likes to focus on family-friendly content. PC gives you the best of both worlds but also keeps you out of those console exclusives and makes you do a bit more work yourself. Xbox is a pointless buy in 2020 imo. Wait 'till the Xbox Series X comes out in full.

I definitely recommend the Nintendo Switch. There are lots of fun, family-friendly games on there, especially great if you have a partner and/or kids. I feel like everyone tells me that Nintendo games are easy but Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze is kicking my butt. Lots of great indie games on the platform as well like Cuphead, Stardew Valley, and Celeste. Having hybrid mode is awesome. If my partner wants to watch something on our TV, I can just grab the Switch and keep playing on the couch. The build quality is decent, not Apple level but still feels pretty nice. Those Pro Controllers are the best though. Haven't found a better controller yet imo.
My biggest con is that Nintendo products are expensive and the company refuses to put their games on sale. You're gonna have to buy everything at full price, including new releases ($60 a pop) Pro Controllers ($50-$80 each depending on quality and wired vs wireless), new Joy-Con for when the ones that came with your Switch inevitably break, screen protector or case if you use mobile, and the list keeps going on (USD).
There are some other cons on this model of Switch, including the joy-con drifting (theverge.com/2019/7/22/20706144/ni...), overheating, and how some games really screw you over with Local Multiplayer (looking at you, Animal Crossing: New Horizons). If you can look over those things (everything besides the joy-con drift is negligible to me), then the Switch will keep your attention for months.
If you do happen to have planted a money tree in your backyard, I really recommend the Switch. Nothing will get the family together (or tear it apart) like some Super Mario Party.

Like a lot of folks in the comments, I do think PC is technically "the best" console, if you can even call it that. The fact that you can open it up yourself and change out the parts might seem daunting to some people, but it also gives you a level of customization and control over your machine that doesn't come with a sealed console that you have to bring to repairs if it breaks. The higher fidelity is also nice if that is important to you. There is absolutely a difference between playing on 30fps on a TV and playing at 120fps on a monitor. Lack of portability (especially if you aren't buying one of those $1500 gaming laptops) is a problem.

I would really only buy a Playstation for exclusive games you can't play anywhere else. Stuff like Persona 5, any of the Jojo's games, The Last of Us, Uncharted, God of War, etc. If you're into those games, then maybe a Playstation would be right for you. I would also buy it if you were planning on dabbling with VR, since PSVR is doing somewhat well rn.

Edit to add: PC is great as an initial investment. Steam has lots of sales, so you won't break the bank buying games unless you go overboard. Buying your first PC might be a little pricey, but sites like GoG, Humble Bundle, and Steam have sales almost every holiday. You can find games for incredibly cheap sometimes. Nintendo is the opposite. Only $300 to start with the switch or $200 for the mobile-only Switch lite, but almost every game is $60 and all the accessories and controllers are expensive too.

Hope some of this helps! Sorry for the wall of text.

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Seanmclem

Switch is great if you're not a huge gamer. It's pretty affordable. It can play NES and SNES games via Nintendo's online platform for $6 monthly. It constantly gets ports of older games like N64 games and Xbox 360 games. Also, many popular new games on Xbox one and PS4 eventually get ported to Switch and run pretty well. Roughly X360 quality. It also has lots of fun originals and a huge indie scene. Also, it's portable when you want it. Which is really amazing sometimes

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nickytonline profile image
Nick Taylor (he/him) Author

Yeah, I’m. Not a big gamer and it’s more of a console for the whole family. Thanks for the reco!

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schimahr profile image
Ivan Šimičić

The next gen consoles are coming out soon so it doesn’t make sense to invest in OneX or PS4Pro at this time but One S and PS4 are still a good choice!

I’d personally recommend One S cos with GamePass you can have access to 100+ awesome games for as low as £8.99/M. If you’re new customer, you can get three months of subscription for only £1. Awesome value imo!

As for other choices, Switch is great but you’ll be paying more for subpar quality of 3P games, and Nintendo’s 1P offering is not for everyone so it depends of your taste/preference in games.

PC is always a good choice, especially since you can use it for pretty much everything else but to get to console’s level of value, you’d need to spend more, imo. I recently built a gaming PC and I love it but it doesn’t come close to the convenience of gaming console.

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Hieu Nguyen

PC , in my opinion, offers the most value for your bucks. If you build your own, which is somewhat approachable for a beginner, you have a sea of configurations to choose from. You can go crazy with a GPU like RTX 2080 Titan(overkill, but you only live once) or something more reasonable like a (GTX 1060 or 1070). For the CPU, anything with 4+ cores should suffice. Also, 8-16 gig of RAM is standard for most games.

In addition to being able to run virtually any game within budget, you can also use it for other things: graphic design, video editing, photoshop, or just youtube. the list goes on.

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Rob Kendal {{☕}}

The Switch is amazing: lots of indie games, great prices, games load and work quickly. Lots of support for multiplayer. Can't recommend enough.

Outside of that though, I've owned them all and the big problem I have with most modern consoles is that a) they all take about 3 weeks to install a game and, b) take just as long to install that 45GB update that absolutely must be installed before you can play

My recent approach has been twofold:

  1. Invest in Google's Stadia platform. Really solid experience, growing selection of games, play on just about everything that has a screen. Mint!
  2. Took out a Shadow cloud gaming PC. It's about £14 a month, but you get a super hot gaming PC that's always up to date and upgraded with the latest kit. You can install just about anything on there, it runs on iOS, and you can play some other consoles' games, such as PS4 via their own subscription services (e.g. Playstation Now
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Louis

I think anything from Nintendo ist just perfect for kids. I spent a huge part of my childhood with Mario Kart and similar games.

Go for the switch. It's also portable which could be a life saver on boring periods like longer car drives and stuff like that.

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Kyle Boe

As mentioned by Andrew, PC is the way I would strongly recommend. If you have to buy a console, I'd recommend a Switch. They are magical little machine that are awesome on the big screen and highly portable.

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Brad

My kids need to be able to play Just Dance on it

get the Nintendo Switch.

  • cheapest ($300)
  • out of the box local multiplayer
  • most family friendly games
  • classic exclusives (Mario, Zelda, super smash, etc)
  • can be played off the TV (!)
  • stupid reliable (I've never had a Nintendo system break on me.)
  • online is 20$ A YEAR, includes like 80+ classic NES and SNES games.

To put it simply, the Switch hasn't been on sale almost at all and still is the #1 selling on black Fridays... without a discount. It's the best console you can get. (besides Master race PC, but that's for solo gaming :) )

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Thiago Margarida

Although I bought a PS4 Pro, and it's an amazing console, I can't guarantee that is going to be the best option for you. But my process to choose:
1 - Which games do you like / want to play? PS4 doesn't have as much simple platformer games like Donkey Kong, Kirby, Mario. Surprisingly too, there's less censoring on japanese games on Switch than PS4.
2 - How much do you care for online play vs local multiplayer vs solo? PS4 is better for online, Switch is better for local. Both are good for solo.
3 - Do you also want to play without the TV? Switch you can just get it and take it to your bed / work /etc. PS4.... not

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Gerard Klijs

Really depends on the kind of gamer you are. Having the ability to make it a handheld is nice of the switch, but with the PS 4 you can use a laptop for remote play which also works nicely. But since you already have an Xbox now, you might want to play sequels that are Xbox only of games you played?

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Ryan Collins

You can build a decent gaming system (something AMD based) for $400. It costs more than a current system, but the games are a lot cheaper. And with Parsec, you can play the games on your Macbook Pro, streaming from your PC.

Edit: Also, Geometry Wars for the 360 is awesome!

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Sarah

I bought myself a Switch right before the COVID lockdown and it's been one of the best purchases I've made 🎉 Barely touched any PC games since i got it.

My favorite part of it is how many different ways of playing it has. I can connect it to the TV and either use both controllers for multiplayer, or hook them together for single player games. Or I can use it in hand-held mode when a TV isn't available.

I'm constantly switching (😎) between the different modes: hand-held or connected to TV with one large controller for single-player and connected to the TV with both small controllers for multiplayer. It's also possible to play with the remote controllers without hooking the console up to a screen, but I haven't tried that yet.

Also possibly worth checking some second-hand options if you're concerned about price. I bought mine second-hand and there were so many new consoles for reasonable prices listed, mainly from parents whose kids weren't satisfied with their Christmas gifts 😅

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Rich Field

Will also depend on what kind of games you like.
I was considering getting a PS4 to play the new version of Elite and use the VR Headset after trying both at a friends. Kinda wish I had now we are in lockdown.

So just have the work PC which has very limited graphics card.
But good enough to play strategy / puzzle games like Baba Is You and Thomas Was Alone. 😄

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jeikabu

With a new console generation scheduled for the end of this year, I’d hold off getting a PS4 or Xbone now. Even if you don’t need the upgrade, I’d expect some decent discounts on the current gen in the next year.

Regarding current hardware, between Sony and MS, Sony is the clear winner. Switch is nice if you like Nintendo titles and/or don’t want to be stuck in one room.

If you’re price conscious, PC is the way to go. You likely need one anyway, and between Steam sales and Epic game store freebies you’ll spend far less on software.

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jeikabu

If you do go with PlayStation, I recommend PSN+. You can pick up a year subscription for cheap around Black Friday/Cyber Monday/EOY and it gives you two free games each month. At least one of them is usually decent or better.

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Ben Halpern

As a “not big gamer” myself, I’ve been thinking about this and feel like Nintendo is a pretty safe bet for enjoyment.

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Daniel Madalitso Phiri

Hey!! I got rid of my Xbox 360 sometime ago, hardest decision of my life lol. I haven't been as active since but still do some gaming on my laptop, nothing serious though. It works well for casual stuff so that's work considering too?

I'm looking to get a console too and my peers are driving me nuts with all the Animal Crossing talk - I've contemplated buying a Switch but I've managed to resist that. I like that it's portable and has some really good titles. However, I just love Xbox because I'm so used to it. The Xbox Series X comes out later this year and I think I'll wait for it. Given the Switch doesn't release some killer titles. What are you favourite games?

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odonno profile image
David Bottiau

If you can wait a little, the Series X will be right for you.

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Nick Taylor (he/him) Author

Ahh, good to know. Thanks for the tip!

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odonno profile image
David Bottiau

Yep. The main benefits are : relatively cheap (compared to an equivalent PC), you will be able to play some of your X360 games (backward compatibility is pretty good on Xbox), the controller is amazing, and you may find the Xbox Game Pass attracting. But of course, it depends the kind of games you want to play.

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yokotobe

I've already own Switch and plan to buy PS5 and yet again Xbox X series

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ajv

I'm thinking of either getting a Switch or something like a System76 Meerkat (just a mini pc) as a dedicated game rig behind my UWD

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Helder Burato Berto

I've a Nintendo switch and it's very nice! I play with my wife and we have a lot of fun.

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Rafael Ahrons

I enjoy a lot playing in the PC, just buy a good controller and boost your PC with RAM and a good GPU and it's done.

Steam has a lot of good games and sales

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stereobooster
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Michael Kohl

I have a PS4 and a Switch. This combination suits me fine, no XBox exclusives that I was really interested in in the current console gen.

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Ben Sinclair

My brain is insisting that the 360 is still "the new one". a.k.a. "the one I might buy one day if I have the money to burn".

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Wang Xu

Waiting for PS5 and XSX

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Dylan Cooper

Nintendo Switch, Super Smash Bros ultimate. Best game ever