Within the past week, I’ve had some interesting conversations with various people (Both Online and Offline) about Games, Systems, Hardware and why we like or dislike the various genres we choose to play or leave by the wayside. After doing some serious thinking about the games we love to play and the systems we play them on, despite all of this talk of fancy new technology, when it comes to decision making, I think its time for all of us to get back to the basics. What you are about to read is simply a list of questions you should ask yourself when deciding to purchase a new console or PC.
1. What games do I want to play?
(This obviously is a big question since this will ultimately determine a lot of factors)
2. How big is system A’s library?
(There are times where it takes more than one game to sell a system. If you want to play more than one title [And most people do…], sometimes you need to ask yourself if the console you are considering has more or less of what you are looking for.)
3. If you like to play imported video games, is the console region locked?
(Some collectors like to play games from Japan, Asia and Europe and vice versa if you live outside of the US. In order to play imports, you need a system that does not have a region lock. Region locks limit the games we play to only the games that are released in our country. Are there other ways to play imports? Well, you can import a console from that region but it kind of defeats the purpose only two of the same boxes just for a different region lock and its very costly since imports usually carry a hefty price tag. The other way is to get your console modded. However, getting your console modded will void your warranty and there is a big chance that it can also be damaged in the process or even bricked. As a result, I highly recommend that you do NOT take this route. Look for consoles that don’t have region locks if you plan on importing for them.)
4. Do you want to play games by yourself, with friends or both?
(Some gamers are very competitive. Some like to divide and conquer. Others simply enjoy engrossing themselves in a single player world and escaping reality for a while. All of these reasons are valid reasons to purchase a system. In some cases, Single Player may be just as important as Multiplayer and vice versa. Perhaps you prefer the flexibility of being able to do both. Whatever you choose, just make sure that the system can fit your priorities.)
5. Do you want to purchase physical media, online games or both?
(While the big three [Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft] have always provided both ways of purchasing games, newcomers such as the Ouya, Gamestick and Game Shield require internet to make game purchases since their model is based on a Digital Only service. A lot of times, this decision is usually based off of a person’s lifestyle. While some prefer Physical Media because they have something to collect and put on their shelves, others prefer to ditch the clutter and go completely digital. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Being Physical means never having to redownload the game. It will last as long as the disc isn’t damaged. Being Digital gives you the convenience of being able to own multiple games without making room in your home for them. However, if the servers for the games being sold get taken offline and your console dies, there is a very strong possibility that you will not be able to redownload the game. Also, unlike Physical Media, Digital games can not be resold.)
6. What console has the most family friendly games and does the system provide a Parental Lock to block out certain content?
(If you are a parent and want to be able to provide your family with games that everyone can play, this may be an important question to you. Perhaps you do not want your eight year old son shooting hookers in Grand Theft Auto. In your case, Parental Locking along with supervision of what you decide to purchase for your family is very important. Just remember that if you decide to put the console online, your kids may have access to content you do not approve of, hence the reason why a Parental Lock becomes a necessity. Also, don’t forget the ESRB Ratings. They are there for a reason. The games, nor the industry is a tool for babysitting so make sure you do your part as a parent. Like movies, music and books, we all have different genres we are into that vary in the level of violence and sexual content. Everyone’s gaming preferences regardless of what genre and age level you are into should be respected. They do not need to be forced upon anyone else. We have a system in place to help parents make the right decisions. In a nutshell, this basically means that if you do not want your child playing a specific game, do not scapegoat the industry or the creators since what you buy for your kids comes directly from your paycheck.)
7. If buying a portable system, which system has better battery life?
(If you spend a lot of time on the road, battery life on a portable is an important issue. Greater battery life equals more dead zombies.)
8. Does the system support Backwards Compatibility?
(Some people want to be able to reduce clutter and save some money by being able to play all of their old and new media on a single system. While this may be an issue due to the fact that hardware changes, thus making the previous generation incompatible with the next, one must ask themselves if they want to sacrifice compatibility for progress. While emulation on consoles is always a hot topic, just remember that while company A is spending millions of dollars on figuring out how to preserve the past, company B could be taking those dollars and spending them on new, cutting edge, blockbuster titles instead. Just remember that details always cost money on either the developers side, customers side or in some cases, both.)
9. If buying a PC, Is the system powerful enough to run Game X and if not, does the motherboard’s limitations allow you to upgrade the hardware so you can get it to the playable status you want?
(PCs always cost more when it comes to gaming. If you want to play games on your PC in the best way possible, the easiest route is to purchase a Gaming PC. However, if you are on a budget, you may want the capability of being able to upgrade little by little rather than getting everything all done in one shot. Its possible to build an incredible custom rig even on a budget if you do the research. Just remember the requirements (required and recommended) and purchase or build something that is at least 75% – 80% more powerful than those specs. The reason for this is the simple fact that PCs have to run more than one application in the background and all of this extra use of processing and memory could really tax lesser systems when it comes to gaming. Also, for the best results, make sure you have the best video card in your PC. Shop around and make a ton of comparisons before making a final decision.)
10. Are there other items (accessories, subscriptions etc…) that I will need to purchase in order to get the full enjoyment out of my console?
(Systems may need extra controllers [depending on how many people you expect to play], subscriptions to a gaming service, Memory Cards, additional cables [depending on your television], batteries or other miscellaneous items. Just remember that if you need these extras to accomplish your gaming goals, they may or may not up the overall price you spend on the console.)
11. Finally, how much money are you willing to spend on your console of choice?
(Is price a factor? How about value? Do you need all of the latest features or could you be happy with a box that simply plays games? Sometimes, the benefits outweigh the costs. Other times, breaking the bank is simply not an option. Overall, whatever system you choose in the end, just make sure you are enjoying it. After all, its your money and only you decide what you truly like in the end. Happiness does matter.
If you got this far, I hope you enjoyed this list. If you are a newcomer reading this or are just simply undecided on what new system you want, just remember that no review can ever tell you that you are wrong for making a purchase. In the end, the most important thing is that you enjoy your new system and have fun with it. If you enjoyed it, than it was a purchase well made.