Choosing the right video game console, game streaming service, PC games, retro game console or arcade cabinet can be a difficult choice. And, with new next-generation video game consoles from Xbox and PlayStation entering the market it can make a difficult choice that much harder.
Each console, game streaming PC games, retro game console and arcade cabinet has their own unique strengths that could make it an enticing addition to your home, based on personal preference. With this in mind, here are the key features and benefits that can help you decide what is right for you.
Video game console gaming
When it comes to video game consoles, there are three major home console makers in the market PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo. And, 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 and Nintendo Switch Lite.
That’s a lot to digest, isn’t it? To top it all off, PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo take their own approach to gaming. What’s the difference between all of these consoles? Which is right for me? These are probably just some of the questions that might be going through your mind. Today, we will take a look at PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo to see what each console maker has to offer and see how they stack up.
Xbox – 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.
Now, Microsoft is readying their next generation consoles Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S for a November 10, 2020 release. 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.
Support for Xbox One S isn’t going away anytime soon though. Microsoft has said 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.
So now that we have a bit of background on Xbox One S, Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, let’s take a look at the games. The main reason for owning a home console is to play games. Xbox has a total of 23 first party studios and partners that produce some of the best games in the world.
The Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S are launching with 31 games that are fully optimized for the new hardware. And, there are more games coming before the end of 2020. 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 Gears Tactics, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Watch Dogs: Legion, and Yakuza: Like a Dragon. And, when you get an Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S they will automatically upgrade for free to the next-gen version to take full advantage of the new hardware.
Xbox backwards compatibility
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 and digital media delivery service in the form of Xbox Live Gold. 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, 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, this fall EA Play is coming to 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 Tell Me Why, Gears Tactics, Wasteland 3, and The Medium are available for play on day one.
PlayStation – 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.
Now, Sony is readying their next generation PlayStation 5 console for a November 12, 2020 release. The PlayStation 5 can play games at 4K 60 frames-per-second all the way up to 120 frames-per-second and is 8K capable. Sony has made clear that first party studios development will be shifting to PlayStation 5 but haven’t, as of yet, set a deadline for when this will happen.
Sony has 15 first party studios that include: Naughty Dog, Santa Monica Studios, Bend Studios, Sucker Punch, San Diego Studios, Guerrilla Games, Media Molecule, Polyphony Digital, Insomniac Games, and more.
The PlayStation 5 is launching with 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.
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 and more. This means you only have to buy these games once to play the best version for your console.
PlayStation backwards compatibility
The PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro are not natively backwards compatible with previous PlayStation consoles. However, the PlayStation 5 is backwards compatible with over 4000 PlayStation 4 games.
That means you’ll be able to play your favourite PlayStation 4 games like God of War, Uncharted 4, Ghost of Tsushima and The Last of Us Part II on PlayStation 5. PlayStation 4 games will run at a more stable frame rate and some games will even have higher resolutions.
Unfortunately, the PlayStation 5 is not directly backwards compatible with PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2 and PlayStation games.
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. Games are added and removed on a regular basis to give you a variety of games to choose from.
The PlayStation Plus collection
Beginning at launch, PlayStation 5 PlayStation Plus subscribers will have access to the PlayStation Plus Collection. This is a curated library of generation defining PS4 games to download and play that include Bloodborne, God of War, Monster Hunter: World, Persona 5 and many more. The PS Plus Collection will be an added benefit to the existing PS4 benefits that PS Plus members receive for a single subscription price.
Nintendo – Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite
When it comes to options for taking your gaming console with you on the go, Nintendo has all the bases covered. The Nintendo Switch and the Nintendo Switch Lite offer premium gaming experiences on the go. The Nintendo Switch connects 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 can be played wherever your travels may take you.
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 and Switch Lite 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 and Switch Lite feature some of the most highly rated games such as Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Super Mario 3D All-Stars, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, 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 and Nintendo Switch Lite 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.
Despite the popularity of video game consoles, PC gaming is more popular than ever. From gaming for fun to the new realms of virtual reality, the power and customization options a computer offers is second to none. Today’s high-end gaming PCs give you an amazing level of raw processing power like never before.
Many of the same games that are on PlayStation and Xbox are also on PC. And, often at higher resolutions and frame-rates! One of the most impressive PC games in recement memory comes from Microsoft in the form of Microsoft Flight Simulator. It is one of the most authentic flying simulations that features genuine real-time air traffic, dynamic weather and more. Click here to read Dave’s review of Microsoft Flight Simulator.
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for PC
Additionally, Microsoft offer’s its Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription service, with over 100 high-quality PC games and the benefits of EA Play. For example, you can play Forza Motorsport 7, Age of Empires III, A Plague Tale: Innocence, Doom Eternal, Gears 5, and Halo: The Master Chief Collection—plus many more.
PC digital video game storefronts
On consoles you are limited to buying digital games from either PlayStation, Xbox or Nintendo. However, on PC there are several digital video game store fronts where you can purchase games. For example, Valve Corporation has its own video game digital distribution service and store called Steam. This digital storefront has a wide selection of over 34000 PC games, both old and new. You simply purchase, download and install on your PC.
Steam generally has several big sales during the year that offer massive discounts on some of the best PC games around. Steam prepaid cards can be purchased at Best Buy and make great gifts.
A few years ago, in 2018, Epic Games opened their own digital video game storefront. Much like Steam, Epic Games Store offers a variety of PC games for you to purchase, download and install on your PC.
PC backwards compatibility
When it comes to backwards compatibility, PC gaming really shines. For the most part, even today’s latest gaming PCs can play games from 10-15 years ago and older. And, they generally offer improved graphics and faster frame-rates. While some of the older games might need a tweak or patch, you generally can play them without much trouble at all.
PC online multiplayer
Unlike PlayStation, Xbox and Switch, the overwhelming majority of PC games offer free online multiplayer. However, there are some subscription based MMO games (Massively multiplayer online games) such as World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2 and Final Fantasy XIV that require a fee to play.
Cloud gaming or game streaming offer players the ability to play video via the internet from a remote server onto the player’s device. Because games are run on remote servers, it alleviates the need for players to have expensive dedicated hardware to play. In fact, cloud gaming allows you to play AAA games on your mobile phones.
In the last few years cloud gaming has started to gain popularity with services from NVIDIA, GeForce Now, and Google, Stadia. Cloud gaming 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 720p to your PlayStation 4 and PC. Xbox’s Project xCloud is currently in a beta state, and it allows you to stream Xbox One games to your mobile phone at 720p.
Last year, November 2019, Google released their cloud gaming service Stadia. It is powered by computer blades in Google data centres around the world. It 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!
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 at 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 Super Bomberman R Online, Dead by Daylight, Orcs Must Die! 3, and SuperHot: Mind Control Delete are free for Stadia Pro subscribers.
Current and future Stadia games
Over the past year, Stadia has seen many improvements in the service such as adding mobile data support, Click to Play, Stream Connect, State Share as well as new game announcements. Ubisoft, has been one of Stadia’s biggest supporters over this past year. They have brought a lot of high profile games to Stadia including Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, Ghost Recon: Breakpoint, Just Dance, and Tom Clancy’s The Division 2—to name a few.
Furthermore, AAA games such as Marvel’s Avengers, Watch Dogs: Legions, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Cyberpunk 2077, Destiny 2: Beyond Light, Immortals: Fenyx Rising, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and Jedi: Fallen Order are out or are coming to Stadia in 2020.
Retro gaming and arcades
Retro gaming, or playing classic blasts from the past, has been surging in popularity as of late. There’s a logical reason for this phenomenon too: those who gamed in the 80s and 90s are now adults. And let’s be honest, going back and reliving all your favourite childhood games is extremely exciting!
And, a new generation of gamers are eager to learn the history behind some of the most beloved modern franchises.
Sega Genesis Mini Console
The SEGA Genesis Mini is a smaller, lighter version of SEGA’s beloved 16-bit console. The SEGA Genesis first launched in the fall of 1989 and went on to sell approximately 18.5 million units in North America. While its competitors boasted higher technical specs, many Genesis games excelled in gameplay.
The SEGA Genesis Mini allows you experience and play 40 of the greatest Genesis games of all-time, just plug and play. It comes with a USB power adapter and power cable. This means you can either plug into a USB port for power for an outlet. Additionally, you get two USB controllers that look like exact replicas of the original SEGA Genesis controllers. They even include the iconic SEGA Genesis log and the exact button layout as the original controllers.
Arcade1Up Game Machines
Arcade1Up offers smaller-scale arcade cabinets each with different classic arcade games. Standing at just under 4 ft. tall, these classic arcade cabinets come with a full-colour, hi-resolution display.
The cabinets feature the original arcade games’ control and button configurations, eliminating any guesswork about gameplay. Add-ons include a stool and riser, allowing for the creation of a full arcade experience that fits perfectly in a den, office or dorm, and enables hours of fun-filled gaming.
Leo Bond recently reviewed the NBA JAM Arcade1Up retro arcade machine with riser. Click here to read his review. He shows you what’s involved in building the Aracde1Up game machine and shares his thoughts on the overall experience.
The choice is yours
Now, you’ve got a better idea about video game consoles, game streaming services, PC games, retro game console or arcade cabinet. 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. Happy gaming!