Before going back to school, you might be thinking about buying your first video game console or wanting to upgrade. It can be a difficult decision. There are several choices currently on the market and more coming this fall. Each platform has its own unique strengths that could make it enticing based on personal preference.

To help you out, I’ve put together several key features which will help you to determine the right console before going back to school.

Nintendo Switch – great for gaming on the go

While the Nintendo Switch doesn’t offer as robust online service as Xbox and PlayStation, it has a much stronger collection of unique single and local multiplayer games. The Nintendo Switch is designed to be played together. Detachable joy-cons and great titles like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and Super Mario Party make it easy to play side-by-side with your family and friends.

Nintendo’s history of developing family-friendly software also makes the Nintendo Switch a strong candidate if you are looking for a console for the whole family to enjoy. The Switch has a deep line-up of first party AAA titles that play well for all ages. Click to read the latest news and game announcements from July 20, 2020’s Nintendo Direct Mini: Partner Showcase.

Click here to see the full line of Nintendo Switch games available at

Fun on the go

If you prefer to play your games on the go, the Nintendo Switch Lite is a fantastic choice. It is lighter and more portable than ever. The Switch Lite is a dedicated handheld device so you won’t be able to play games on your TV. Furthermore, it sells at a lower price point than the Nintendo Switch and the controllers are integrated into the portable’s body.

Nintendo Switch Online

Nintendo Switch Online is a paid online subscription that comes with various additional features to expand your experience with the Nintendo Switch console. One of the primary benefits is that it allows you to play online with friends, family and random opponents. The service also features some of Nintendo’s retro gaming content in a curated selection of both NES and SNES games. In addition to extra content you also get access to exclusive offers, and cloud saves to back up all of your progress in supported games.

Streaming options

Unfortunately, Nintendo does not offer any means to stream your games on the Nintendo Switch. While there have been a handful of select titles in Japan that have experimented with streaming, there is no talk at all of expanding or bringing the capability outside of Japan.


Stadia – cloud gaming with no investment in hardware

Last November, Google launched their cloud game streaming service called Stadia. While it may have gotten off to a rocky start, it’s now starting to establish itself as a viable platform. Stadia allows you to play games on your favourite screens without the need to have a console under your TV. Just grab a Stadia controller or a wide variety of compatible controllers such as the DualShock 4, Xbox One Controller, Nintendo Switch Pro Controller and an internet connection and you are set.

Read more about the recent game announcements and news in the world of Stadia here.


The data centre is your platform

As I mentioned earlier, with Stadia, there is no console underneath your TV. You stream games from massive data centres around the globe into your home. This means that you don’t ever have to worry about hardware upgrades, it’s all done in the data centre.

Stadia Pro

You can get started and play games on Stadia without any subscription at all. Simply buy your games and start playing. However, Google offers a monthly subscription called Stadia Pro that gives you free games each month, discounts in the store, and the ability to stream up to 4K 60fps.

Your first month of Stadia Pro is free and you also get a $10 off coupon towards your first game purchase. Once you claim a game with Stadia Pro it’s yours to play as much as you want as long as you subscribe. If your subscription lapses, no need to worry, when you renew Stadia Pro all the games that you claimed are there waiting for you.

Streaming options

Stadia is a strictly game streaming service. Currently you can play Stadia on any Windows, Mac, Chromebook or Linux system with the latest version of the Chrome browser. Additionally, you can also play Stadia on virtually any device with a recent version of Android. Furthermore, with a Chromecast Ultra, you can play Stadia on your TV.

Games can be played at three different resolutions depending what device you are on: 720p, 1080p, and 4K. Currently, Stadia can be played over WiFi or a wired Ethernet connection. Check out my article on What you need to play Stadia at home or on the go for more information.

Xbox One – home of Halo, Gears and Forza

Microsoft’s Xbox One is a great console for those who enjoy multiplayer online games and also enjoy some single player games. In the past few years Microsoft has purchased several studios that have joined under the Xbox Game Studios umbrella. Some of the best games on Xbox One include Halo 5Gears of War 5Forza Horizon 4, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Sea of Thieves, and Minecraft.

Click here to see the full line of Xbox One games available at

Continued support into the next generation

And, Microsoft has announced that it will continue to support Xbox One with first party games over the next few years. That means, any game Xbox Game Studios releases will also be released on Xbox One. Xbox Live is the online multiplayer service that is in a league of its own. Finding your friends is quick, easy and you can be playing a game together in no time.

Backwards compatibility

If you are looking to play some of your favourite games from the Xbox 360 and Xbox era, you are in for a treat. Microsoft has done an amazing job in offering backwards compatibility of games from previous Xbox consoles. Games such as Red Dead Redemption, Panzer Dragoon Orta, and Conker: Live & Reloaded look superior in almost every way than it did when it first launched.

Xbox Game Pass

Another thing you should consider when choosing the right console before going back to school is Xbox Game Pass. This service for Xbox One is your ticket to unlimited access to more than 100 Xbox games and the best value in the industry. You have access to new exclusives, the biggest third-party games, and first party titles!

Streaming options

If you are looking to play your favourite Xbox One games while away from your home, starting in September as a member of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate you’ll have access to Project xCloud. This is Microsoft’s game streaming service for your mobile phone. It allows you to stream a selection of games using wifi or cellular data.

PlayStation 4 – premium first party story driven games

The PlayStation 4 is well known for its first party story driven games. Sony has a plethora of first party studios that include: Naughty Dog, Santa Monica Studios, Bend Studios, Sucker Punch, San Diego Studios, Guerrilla Games, Media Molecule, Polyphony Digital, Japan Studio, and more. These studios have produced some highly rated and highly anticipated games including: The Last of Us Part II, Ghost of Tsushima, Uncharted 4, God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Gran Turismo.

Online multiplayer is available through the PlayStation Network. It gives you the ability to play online games with friends and also to download new games and demos.

Click here to see the full line of PlayStation 4 games available at


Support into the next generation

Even with the next generation PlayStation 5 around the corner, the PlayStation 4 still has a lot of life left into it. With Sony’s philosophy of generations, the PS4 has probably seen the last AAA Sony exclusive with Ghost of Tsushima. However, that doesn’t mean that Sony along with third party developers won’t continue to support the PS4.

Backwards compatibility

Unlike the Xbox One, the PlayStation 4 is not backwards compatible with previous generations of games out of the box. With a PlayStation Now subscription, you can download and stream select PS3 and PS2 games on your PlayStation 4.

PlayStation Now

PlayStation Now is an additional service that functions in a similar fashion to Xbox Game Pass. For a monthly fee you have access to hundreds of PS4, PS3 and PS2 games to play. Some games are available for download, while others are available to stream on your PS4 and PC. Games are added and removed on a regular basis to give you a variety of games to choose from.

Streaming options

In addition to streaming games on your PS4 with PlayStation Now, you can stream games from your PS4 directly to your mobile device or PC with Remote Play. Games run directly from your PlayStation 4 console to compatible devices. With Remote Play, your games are running on your home console and not on a server.

Xbox Series X – the world’s most compatible console

In 2019, Microsoft shocked the gaming world revealing the Xbox Series X, the fastest, most powerful Xbox console yet. Previously codenamed Project Scarlett, the newly minted Xbox Series X is the face of Microsoft’s next generation console effort. The Xbox Series X has some pretty beefy hardware under the hood, which allows for some truly spectacular graphics that include unparalleled lighting effects and ray tracing.

Additionally, many developers are supporting Smart Delivery. This means that when you will only need to buy a game once. Either on the Xbox Series X or Xbox One. Your original digital game purchases follows you across multiple Xbox platforms and optimizes itself for free.

Keeping in tradition with previous generations, the Xbox Series X will have thousands of Xbox One, Xbox 360, and Xbox backwards compatible titles on day one. Compatible games run natively on the Xbox Series X with no additional work from developers. This means, higher and more steady frame rates, reductions in in-game load times, increased visual quality and resolution. And, a new, innovative HDR reconstruction technique can be used to add HDR support to games that existed before HDR. That means Xbox 360 and Xbox games can support HDR with no impact at all to the game’s performance.

All this technology in the Xbox Series X comes at a price. While the price is unknown at the moment, we do know that it will be more expensive than the Xbox One. The Xbox Series X is scheduled to launch Holiday 2020. You can expect to hear more about the Xbox Series X along with a price and release date in the coming months right here on the blog.

Stay up to date with everything you need to know about Xbox Series X

PlayStation 5 – next generation gaming with a choice

Over the last year Sony has given us tidbits of information on its highly anticipated next generation console, PlayStation 5. It wasn’t until early June when we finally got to see what the PlayStation 5 console looks like and to see next-gen games running on PS5. Gamers will have a choice between 2 PlayStation 5 systems at launch. The first, is a PlayStation 5 standard console that includes an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc drive. The second, is called the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition and it does not include a disc drive.

Both consoles offer the same gameplay experience as each other and have the exact same technical specifications. The only difference is that one will accept physical games and the other one is download only. Unlike the PlayStation 4, the PS5 will be backward compatible with PS4 games out of the box.

As you would expect, the PS5 is a giant technical leap over the PlayStation 4. One of the main features of the PS5 is the super fast SSD with a custom I/O. This allows the PS5 to boot a game in a matter of seconds and games will not contain load screens at all. In addition to a RDNA 2 based graphics chips, the PS5 contains a custom engine for 3D audio, which gives every sound in a game dimensionality.

All this technology in the PlayStation 5 comes at a price. While Sony hasn’t revealed the price, we do know that it will be more expensive than the PlayStation 4. The PlayStation 5 is scheduled to launch Holiday 2020. You can expect to hear more about the PS5 along with a price and release date in the coming months right here on the blog.

Sign-up to stay up to date with everything you need to know about PlayStation 5

Cross-play support

Cross-play support allows you to play with your friends and family regardless of the platform. Games such as Fornite, Minecraft, Rocket League, Call of Duty Modern Warfare and many others feature cross-play support. Before purchasing a console or game, look to see if it supports cross-play between you and your friends consoles.

Ways to cut the costs down of owning a console

Owning a video game console can be expensive. However, there are a few ways at which you can keep costs down to save money. For example, if you own a PlayStation 4 you can save some money by upgrading to a PlayStation 5 rather than an Xbox Series X. Many PS4 titles are backwards compatible and some offer free upgrades to the PS5 version of the game.

On the other hand, if you own an Xbox One, you can save money by upgrading to an Xbox Series X rather than a PlayStation 5. All your games will come with you to your brand new console and you’ll get free upgrades to the Xbox Series X versions of games that support it.

Or, if this is your first console you may want to consider what most of your friends play games on. If your friends own a PS4, Xbox One or Switch, you can borrow and share games and accessories.

Best Buy Canada is your back to school headquarters online or in person

Whether you’d like to shop for video games or back to school supplies online or in person, it’s safe to shop at Best Buy. You can read about the precautions taken to ensure you have an easy shopping experience, and pick up everything you need. Don’t forget to check out the Back to School Hub for all of your back to school needs.

Play at Best Buy

Make sure to bookmark and visit the Best Buy Blog as well as our Play at Best Buy gaming hub frequently all summer long. Here we will have special offers, including pre-order links to new games, contests, and the latest news. And, don’t forget to check out my Twitter feed as well as Best Buy Canada’s.

Here’s are the social media links for you to bookmark:

We also want Play at Best Buy to be an interactive event with you. So let us know what games, news and announcements you are excited about with your likes, comments, and shares! Make 2020 even more memorable, enter for a chance to win great prizes with the Play at Best Buy gaming contest with gaming gear, or even a new Sony Premium TV and audio system.

Enter for a chance to win great prizes with the Play at Best Buy gaming contest

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Jon Scarr
Jon is the Gaming Editor and is based in Toronto. He is a proud Canadian who has a serious passion for gaming. He is a veteran of the video game and tech industry with over 20 years experience. You can often find Jon streaming the latest games on his YouTube channel. Jon loves to talk about gaming and tech, come say hi and join the conversation with Jon on Threads @4ScarrsGaming and @4Scarrsgaming on Instagram.