There are many different games consoles on the market today and new consoles are set to launch at the end of the year. Choosing a good console for your children can be difficult. Not only do you need to take into account budget constraints, you should also consider the library of games available, the way that the online features work and which consoles your children’s friends have.
Age appropriate gaming
While there are family-friendly and age-appropriate games for all platforms, some are more family-focused than others. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 are both consoles aimed at the core market, with a huge number of shooting games, driving games and western RPGs, while the Nintendo Wii and Wii U consoles are focused more on family-friendly titles, arcade games and RPGs that are more suitable for a younger audience.
The PlayStation 3 offers free online play, as will the PlayStation 4. Xbox 360 owners can only play online if they have Xbox Live Gold, which carries a monthly fee. Some parents feel that the monthly fee is worth paying, because the community is more strictly moderated and abusive behaviour is not tolerated. Nintendo offers free online play, but their friends system differs from that of other consoles and players must share their friend code in order to get friends requests. This means that it is incredibly unlikely for a child to end up with friends requests from complete strangers, so you will always know who your kids are talking to online. The Wii console has been superseded by the Wii U, so you may want to think about selling your Wii online and upgrading to the latest console.
Older children may have friends who already own a PlayStation 3 or an Xbox 360 and it is only natural that they will want to play together. Both consoles offer parental controls which allow you to block games by age rating and control online play, friends lists and voice chat features. Family friendly games for the PlayStation 3 include Little Big Planet and Free Realms, while the Xbox 360 boasts the Fable Series and a wide range of Kinect titles.
There are several new additions to the console market, including Onlive’s streaming console and the Ouya. Onlive’s console allows you to stream games from a remote sever and has a ‘;play pack’ which gives you access to a large number of games every month for a flat fee. However, Onlive requires an always-on internet connection with a stable speed in order for the games to be playable, so it is not recommended if you have bandwidth caps or live in a rural area.
The Ouya is a low-cost micro console that plays Android games. The games available on the Ouya are essentially slightly modified mobile phone games. The Ouya is being marketed with the promise that every game will be free to try, however most games feature expensive micro transactions, which may mean that they end up costing more than a standard buy-to-play game once your child is finished playing with them.