Choosing the right video game console and or game streaming service can be a difficult choice. And, with the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and the Nintendo Switch OLED now on the market it can make a difficult choice that is much harder.
Each console and game streaming service has their own unique strengths, which could make anyone of them best suited for your needs. With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of the key features and benefits of each to help make your decision easier.
When it comes to video game consoles, there are three major home console makers—PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo. Furthermore, each console maker has their own family of consoles. First, PlayStation has PlayStation 4, PlayStation 4 Pro and PlayStation 5. Next, Xbox has Xbox One S, Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. Finally, Nintendo has Nintendo Switch, Nintendo Switch Lite, and Nintendo Switch OLED.
To top it all off, each console maker takes their own approach to gaming. You probably have several questions running through your mind at this point. What’s the difference between all of these consoles? Which one is right for me? To help answer those questions, we’ll look at PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo to see what each console maker has to offer and see how they are different and in some cases similar.
PlayStation 4, PlayStation 4 Pro, and PlayStation 5
The PlayStation 4 was released in 2013 and was in fierce competition with Microsoft’s Xbox One. In November of 2016, a considerably more powerful version of the console was released called the PlayStation 4 Pro.
In November 2020, Sony released their next generation PlayStation 5 console. The PlayStation 5 is much more powerful than any previous PlayStation console. The PS5 can play games at 4K 60 frames-per-second all the way up to 120 frames-per-second and is 8K capable.
PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 games
Sony has 14 first party studios that include: Naughty Dog, Santa Monica Studios, Bend Studios and more.
The PlayStation 5 is home to a variety of games including Demon’s Souls, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Sackboy: A Big Adventure, Godfall, Bugsnax and more. Other games fans can look forward to in 2021 and beyond on PlayStation 5 include: Deathloop, Dying Light 2, Far Cry 6, Horizon Forbidden West and Ghostwire: Tokyo—to name a few.
Interestingly enough, there are quite a few recent games on PlayStation 4 that offer free upgrades to PlayStation 5 versions of the games. For example, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Sackboy: A Big Adventure, Immortals: Fenyx Rising are just but a few. This means you only have to buy these games once to play the best version for your console.
PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 backwards compatibility
Sadly, the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro are not natively backwards compatible with previous PlayStation games from older consoles. Although, the PlayStation 5 is backwards compatible with over 4000 PlayStation 4 games.
As a result, you can play some of the top games from PlayStation 4 such as God of War, Uncharted 4, Ghost of Tsushima and The Last of Us Part II. PlayStation 4 games will run at a more stable frame rate and some games will even have higher resolutions. Unfortunately, just like the PlayStation 4, the PlayStation 5 is not directly backwards compatible with older PlayStation games before PS4.
PlayStation online multiplayer and digital delivery
First and foremost, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 4 Pro and PlayStation 5 offer online multiplayer and digital media delivery service in the form of PlayStation Plus. It gives you the ability to play online games with friends and also to download new games and demos.
Additionally, you can stream movies from various different companies such as Netflix. And, PlayStation Plus offers free monthly games to subscribers.
For a monthly fee, PlayStation Now gives you access to hundreds of PS4, PS3 and PS2 games to play from a wide variety of publishers. Some games are available for download, while others are available only to stream over the internet. Games are added and removed on a regular basis to give you a variety of games to choose from.
The PlayStation Plus collection
PlayStation 5 PlayStation Plus subscribers have access to something that is called the PlayStation Plus Collection. This is a curated library of generation defining PS4 games to download and play. Games include Bloodborne, God of War, Monster Hunter: World, Persona 5 and many more. The PS Plus Collection is an added benefit to the existing PS4 benefits that PS Plus members receive for a single subscription price.
Xbox One S, Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S
The Xbox One was released in 2013 and was a strong competitor to Sony’s PlayStation 4. In August of 2016, a slimmer and slightly faster version of the console was released called the Xbox One S.
In November 2020, Microsoft released two next generation consoles Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S—often referred to as Xbox Series X|S. You are probably wondering what the difference is between the two new consoles, right? Let me break it down for you.
First and foremost, both the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S share the same core next-generation features and play the same games. Whereas the Xbox Series X can play games at 4K 120 frames-per-second all the way up to 8K 30 frames-per-second, the Xbox Series S can play games at 1440p 60 frames-per-second up to 120 frames-per-second and games can be upscaled to 4K.
On the other hand, support for Xbox One S isn’t going away soon. Microsoft has stated on several occasions that, for the first couple of years, their first party studios will make games that run on all three consoles: Xbox One S, Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S.
Get the latest information about what’s new with Xbox Series X|S here.
Xbox One S and Xbox Series X|S games
The main reason for owning a home console is to play games. Xbox has a total of 23 first party studios, the most recent addition was Bethesda Softworks.
The Xbox Series X|S has over 30 games, as of the date of this article, which are fully optimized for the new hardware. And, many upcoming games on Xbox are smart delivery compatible. What this means is, you only have to buy these games once to play the best version for your console.
For example, you can buy games on Xbox One S such as Assassin’s Creed Valhalla or Watch Dogs: Legion and when you get an Xbox Series X|S they automatically upgrade for free to take advantage of the new console.
Xbox backwards compatibility
When it comes to backwards compatibility, Xbox is king. Keeping in tradition with previous generations, the Xbox One S, Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S are backwards compatible. For Xbox One S, that means it can play over 600 Xbox 360 and Xbox games.
And, for Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, they both can play thousands of backwards compatible games from Xbox One S, Xbox 360 and Xbox. Compatible games run natively on the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S 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.
Xbox online multiplayer and digital delivery
First and foremost, Xbox One S, Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S offer online multiplayer in the form of the Xbox Network and digital media delivery service in the form of Xbox Live Gold. Both give you the ability to play online games with friends and also to download new games and demos.
Additionally, you can stream movies from various different companies such as Netflix. And, Xbox Live offers free monthly games to subscribers.
Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate
Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate are often referred to as the best value in gaming. You can think of it as the Netflix of video games. You pay a nominal monthly fee to get access to download hundreds of games. The service has games from a wide range of publishers such as SEGA, Capcom, WB Games, Namco and Microsoft Studios.
Recently changes were made to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. Players now have access to more than 100 games from the cloud to play on their Android phone and tablet via Project xCloud. And, EA Play is included with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for no additional cost. This means that more than 60 of EA’s biggest and best console games are available to play.
However, what really sets this service apart from others is that fact that brand new Microsoft Studios games are available on launch day on Xbox Game Pass. So that means games such as Halo Infinite, Tell Me Why, Gears Tactics, Wasteland 3, and The Medium are available for play on day one.
Nintendo Switch, Nintendo Switch Lite, and Nintendo Switch OLED
When it comes to options for taking your gaming console with you on the go, Nintendo has all the bases covered. The Nintendo Switch lineup offers premium gaming experiences on the go. The Nintendo Switch and Switch OLED connect to your primary TV through its “docked” mode, and converts to a portable simply by lifting the console out of the dock. In its undocked “handheld mode” the Nintendo Switch and Switch OLED can be played wherever your travels may take you.
The biggest difference between the Switch and Switch OLED is in the screen. The OLED was introduced in Fall 2021 as a step up for people who primarily use the Switch for portable gaming. As reviewer Jon Scarr mentions in his unboxing and review article, if you mostly connect to a television, the the Switch OLED is likely not a necessary upgrade for you. However, he also states that if you enjoy portable gaming, then the Nintendo Switch OLED provides a much better gaming experience.
On the other hand, the Nintendo Switch Lite is specifically made for gamers on the go. It is lighter and more portable than ever. The Nintendo 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 controller is now integrated into the Lite’s body—so you won’t be able to detach them.
Nintendo Switch games
The Nintendo Switch consoles don’t get many of the biggest multi-console blockbusters. It might not be the optimal choice for those who want to play all the latest cross-platform first-person shooters but it boasts a very strong catalogue of its own exclusive titles. These are beloved franchises that have endured the test of time.
Additionally, Nintendo Switch, Switch Lite, and Switch OLED feature some of the most highly rated games such as Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Super Mario 3D All-Stars and Luigi’s Mansion 3. Not to mention other Nintendo franchise favourites such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Mario Odyssey, Splatoon 2, and The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild.
Nintendo Switch backwards compatibility
The Nintendo Switch, Nintendo Switch Lite and Nintendo Switch OLED are not backwards compatible with previous generations of Nintendo consoles. However, with a Nintendo Switch online subscription you have access to play a selection of NES and SNES games that have been emulated.
Nintendo Switch online, local multiplayer and family gaming
Nintendo Switch Online is a paid subscription that allows players to play select Nintendo Switch online. The service also features some of Nintendo’s retro gaming content in curated NES and SNES apps. In addition to extra content you also get access to exclusive offers, and cloud saves to back up all of your progress.
While the Nintendo Switch may not offer as robust online service as PlayStation and Xbox, it has a much stronger collection of unique local multiplayer selections. 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 Just Dance 2021 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. It’s true that the Xbox and PlayStation have a number of E-rated family titles as well. In comparison however they are arguably outdone by Nintendo’s deep line-up of AAA titles that play well for all ages.
Game streaming services
Game streaming gives you the ability to play video games via the internet from a remote server onto a variety of personal devices. Because games are run on remote servers, you do not need to have expensive dedicated hardware to play. In fact, game streaming services allow you to play AAA games on your mobile phones, tablets, TV or in a web browser on your computer.
In the last few years game streaming services have started to gain popularity with services from NVIDIA, GeForce Now, Amazon, Luna and Google, Stadia. Game streaming isn’t a new concept. G-Cluster, Gaikai, and OnLive were among some of the first game streaming services that offered gamers the ability to play games on demand over the internet in the past 20 years. However, these pioneers were well before their time and a sufficient internet infrastructure was not in place.
Today PlayStation and Xbox have their own streaming services. PlayStation Now is an evolution of Gaikai and OnLive, which allows you to stream games at upto 1080p to your PlayStation 4 and PC. Xbox’s Project xCloud allows you to stream Xbox One games to your mobile phone at 720p with 1080p support coming later in 2021.
In November 2019, Google released their cloud gaming service Stadia. It is powered by computer blades in Google data centres around the world. Unlike GeForce Now, Stadia is its own platform that allows you to play games on your TV, computer, tablet and mobile phone. And, you can use just about any controller to do so. Compatible controllers include DualShock 4, Xbox One Controller, and Nintendo Switch Pro Controller.
Furthermore, with Stadia, you never have to worry about downloads, updates or storage space. Just click and play! Read more about Google Stadia.
Getting started with Stadia and Stadia Pro
To play Stadia, simply sign up for a free account, purchase a game and click to play. This will allow you to stream games upto 1080p 60fps and play online multiplayer games. Additionally, Stadia offers a monthly subscription called Stadia Pro. With your subscription, you get free games each month, discounts in the store, and the ability to stream up to 4K 60fps.
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, when you renew Stadia Pro all the games that you claimed are there waiting for you. Games such as Journey to the Savage Planet: Employee of the Month Edition, Little Nightmares II, Hitman: the Complete First Season, PUBG, PixelJunk Raiders and Orcs Must Die! 3 are free for Stadia Pro subscribers.
Current and future Stadia games
Since launch, Stadia has seen many improvements such as adding mobile data support, Click to Play, Stream Connect, State Share as well as new game announcements. Ubisoft, is one of Stadia’s biggest supporters and brought a lot of high profile games to Stadia including Watch Dogs: Legions, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Immortals: Fenyx Rising and Tom Clancy’s The Division 2—to name a few.
Furthermore, AAA games such as Cyberpunk 2077, FIFA 21, Madden 21, Resident Evil 7, Destiny 2, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Dragon Quest XI S, Saints Row The Third Remastered and Jedi: Fallen Order are all available on Stadia. Over 100 games are coming in 2021 that include Resident Evil Village, Outriders, Kaze and the Wild Masks, Life is Strange True Colors and more!
In fact, there are over 400 games in development from 200 developers for Stadia over the next few years.
In October of 2020, Amazon launched its own cloud gaming service into early access called Luna. Powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS), you can stream Windows 10 PC games over the internet. Games are not purchased instead you subscribe to game channels such as Luna+ or Ubisoft+. Each channel offers a variety of games to play.
While Amazon Luna is not currently available in Canada, the service is expected to come to Canada eventually. Read more about Amazon Luna.
Take the next step
By now you probably have a very good idea of which console or cloud game streaming services best suit your personal preference. Each one has both positive and negative aspects, but you’ve got to decide what suits you the best. Regardless of what you choose, you can’t go wrong.