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The Hidden Gems of the PC Gaming Show at E3 2018

The PC Gaming Show leading into E3 showed off a lot of independent titles. While most of the reveals were for mature related content, we found some family-friendly games that we think you would be interested in. Take a look below and see what we mean. 


Satisfactory

Satisfactory is a first-person building game much in the same vein as Minecraft, but with a focus on production and simulating science and engineering. Build giant machines to make things to make bigger machines. That plastic container? You are going to need to build pipes and pumps to draw oil from beneath the ground. I wonder what this games equivalent to “punching trees” will look like?



Neo Cab

Neo Cab is a suspense story set in a cyberpunk Uber. Narrative constraints can often lead to interesting possibilities in storytelling, and this seems to be an entire story set in the cab driving through ruined neon streets. I look forward to seeing more from this as the trailer was family friendly, and I am hoping the rest of the game is too.


Star Control Origins

Star Control Origins is a science fiction open world exploration game with a splash of humor. Star Control Origins is billed as a 100% explorable game where the entire universe is simulated at all times, While small in scale it is trying to do what No Man’s Sky failed to deliver, in giving a fun endless exploration of the universe as well as solid multiplayer content.

Puyo-Puyo Tetris

Puyo-Puyo Tetris is a mashup of the Nintendo classic as well as a franchise that is very popular in Japan and has seen moderate success in the States. It is a game that combines both puzzle styles into a single experience. Puyo-Puyo itself feels, to myself, like a cross between Dr. Mario (placing rotating two color pieces), and the chain combo systems of candy crush and its progeny (where clearing matching colors can cause other sets of pieces to fall into place, scoring and clearing more pieces). You can’t go wrong with the classics.


Morning Star

I want to know more. I would call this a farming sim, but there is a lot more than meets the eye. Farming seems to be a metaphor for something else in this game. Just watch the trailer and halfway through you will realize why I am at lost for how to describe it.


Jurassic World Evolution

Yo, this is “Roller Coaster Tycoon” with dinosaurs.  You create your park, breed and genetically modify your dinosaurs while trying to balance profit, safety and pleasing the different factions in your leadership team. This is as close to that dream as I can imagine were are going to get without an actual Jeff Goldblum and/or Chris Pratt. (Correction from the readers: Jeff Goldblum is technically in the game. He does voice acting as his Ian Malcolm character.)


Stormland

Oculus Rift. First Person. Open World Exploration Game. Robots in a distant future exploring a broken land. Did I mention this was in VR?  Exploding Robots worked to keep Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles family friendly, it can work for Stormland.


Sable

Single player, open world, desert exploration, a love child of Hiyo Miyazaki and Journey. This game is just plain gorgeous and looks action-packed.  I hope to see more from this two-man development team in the future.



Noita

“An action roguelite where every pixel is simulated”

This game is going to be fun, and to tell you why I have to explain that opening sentence from the developer. “Action roguelite” is a style of game where a person, in this case, a wizard, explores endless dungeons in a quest further within, with each death forcing them to start over from the beginning (with some resources carrying over to the next adventure). “Every pixel is simulated”: imagine a cartoon where the entire animation and drawing, including every background feature, was redrawn for every frame of animation. What you get is a setting that is designed to be constantly reactive and destructible, paired with wizards who have all of their spells turned to 11.


Ooblets


Double Fine makes a Pokemon Game. I have said previously that you can tell where people have drawn their inspiration, but the sheer beauty and whimsy of what I saw in this trailer had me bobbing to the pace of my wacky young protagonists. Why have monsters fight when they can have… a dance battle? The blocky pixelated art is just detailed enough to show all of the adorable expressions on every creature and townsfolk. This one is also coming out for Xbox One as well, which is an added bonus.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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The Engaged Family Gaming Games of the Year 2018

I went into 2018 with relatively low expectations. We all know that I am a bottomless pit of hype, but everything is a let down after The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. This year ended up being a very pleasant surprise as a result. It felt like I had an exciting game to play every time a turned around, and I finished the year with a large back catalog of games from this year that I am still picking away at as we tread into the new year. Take a look for below for some of my favorites. Let me know how you feel in the comments section below!

The Family Games of the Year

Marvel’s Spider-Man

My game of the year, without question, is Marvel’s Spider-Man. I’m a big web-head to begin with, so I was predisposed to like this game. But, nothing prepared me for how much it would captivate me.

In order for a Spider-Man game to work the developers need to nail the traversal. Spider-Man is a hero built around agility and mobility. Insomniac executed perfectly here. I could have spent literal days swinging around their recreation of New York if I didn’t have to work and feed myself. It was a remarkable achievement that made me sad when it was finished.

The web-swinging was so good that I would have tolerated a hack job of a story and still loved the game. That wasn’t a problem though as Insomniac delivered a very interesting story about a slightly older and more experienced Peter Parker. To be honest, its one of the best Spider-Man stories I’ve experienced in a long time. I especially loved how they handled his relationship with Mary Jane.

Marvel’s Spider-Man is a game I’ll remember for a long time and has me ravenous for its inevitable sequel. It is, as far as I am concerned, required reading for anyone who owns a PlayStation 4.

Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu/Let’s Go Eevee

I’ve always struggled to get into Pokemon games. I love the idea of playing them. I have bought several of them and been enamored with them for a while. But, somewhere around hour 20-25 I fall off. The grind catches up with me and I find something else to play.

Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee was the first Pokemon game to overcome that. It managed to give me all of the charm of the Pokemon franchise without the grind. Game Freak did that by removing random encounters and replacing the long-standing pokemon capture system with the system used in Pokemon Go.

I had my doubts as I was waiting for the game to come out. I just didn’t think that Let’s Go would hold my interest. But, I was wrong.

This is a wonderful departure from the earlier games in the franchise. I can’t wait to see what else they do with it.

Super Smash Brothers Ultimate

super Smash Bros Ultimate Box Art

Holy crap. Super Smash Brothers Ultimate is a big video game. Every time I turn it on it feels like I am finding something new. The character list alone contains more than seventy characters that all play very differently from each other. I think I’ll be playing Smash for years with my boys. The value is unquestionable.

Smash’s size isn’t the only thing going for it though. It is a polished fighting game that is fun to play alone and in groups of up to eight players! This is a must-own for families who have large groups of gamers in their house regularly.

The Messenger

EFG fans know that I am a sucker for a retro-inspired platformer. My game of the year in 2014 was Shovel Knight. There is just something about a game being made with modern design sensibilities that also reminds me of the games that captured my imagination as a kid.

The Messenger is clearly inspired by Ninja Gaiden, a devilishly hard ninja game from the NES. But, somewhere along the design process, they decided to add a whole other game into it. I’ll never understand why they would do that to themselves, but their efforts paid off. They somehow combined an 8bit (ish) linear platforming game and a 16bit (ish) exploration platformer into the same product.

They also managed to create one of my favorite games of the year.

Grown-Up Game of the Year

God of War

I never liked Kratos or the God of War games. They were crude and juvenile. The only reason we could ever call those games “mature” was for the violence and nudity. The series just echoed on in the background and I ignored it.

But, something about the way Sony was marketing the newest game in that franchise caught my attention. They gave me a glimmer of hope, somehow, that Sony Santa Monica was going to make me care about Kratos and show me that even he could grow up.

I am so glad that I was paying attention, because God of War was the most pleasant surprise I have had in my, near thirty-year gaming, career. Kratos not only grew up, but he matured into a man I could relate to as a father and as someone who has done things I regret.

I, obviously, never hunted down an entire pantheon, but it wasn’t hard to draw connections between his dark past and his obvious pain and regret with some of my more regrettable memories.

Its worth mentioning that I just wrote four paragraphs about a God of War game before I mentioned how amazing the combat was. I loved every second of the combat. It was every bit as brutal as I expected, and it was more personal than I thought I would ever be comfortable with.

This is, obviously, not a game for kids, but I would recommend God of War to anyone who owns a PS4. Grown-ups simply must play this game.

Honorable Mention

Fortnite

It’s impossible to talk about games of the year in 2018 without talking about Fortnite. It’s a game that has stolen the hearts and minds of (most of) our children and has reached further into our wallets than we ever thought possible. I can’t say that it was one of my favorite games of the year, but I think that we will be talking about Fortnite far longer than we will any of the other games I wrote about in this article. (For more info: Take a look at our Fortnite Beginner’s Guide or our Parent’s Guide to Fortnite)

 

What were your favorite games of the year? Sound off in the comments and let us know!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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Parental Controls for in Fortnite: Battle Royale on Windows PC/Mac

Fortnite is one of the biggest games in the world. In fact, the only reason it isn’t THE biggest game in the world is that Minecraft is still a thing. I know a lot of parents have allowed their kids to play this new gaming juggernaut and feel lost because they don’t really know how to use the parental controls. Below are the most important Fortnite parental controls that a parent will need to know if their child is playing on iOS or Android.

Editor’s note: If you want a deeper dive into Fortnite we have two guides on our site. The first is a general overview for parents that want to know what the game is all about. The second guide contains tips for new Fortnite players (or for parents to give to their kids if they get frustrated early on.

 

Screenshots courtesy of SnapperCharbs Gaming!

Turning off Voice Chat in Fortnite

 

Open the Settings menu in the top right of the Lobby screen by clicking the Menu icon in the upper right hand of the screen (three stacked horizontal bars)

Open the Options Menu by clicking the box with the Gear in it

Navigate to the Audio tab by clicking the Audio Icon (The icon looks like a megaphone with sound waves coming out of it)

Toggle the “Voice Chat” option On or Off by clicking the arrows

Note: There are a number of other audio options that you can adjust in this menu as well.

 

Automatically Reject Friend Requests from Strangers in Fortnite

 

Open the Settings menu in the top right of the Lobby screen by clicking the Menu icon in the upper right hand of the screen (three stacked horizontal bars)

Open the Options Menu by clicking the box with the Gear in it

 

Navigate to the Account tab by clicking the Account Icon (The icon looks like a pawn in chess)

 

Toggle the Automatically Reject Friend Request option On or Off by clicking the arrows

 

Turn on Chat Profanity Filter in Fortnite

 

Open the Settings menu in the top right of the Lobby screen by clicking the Menu icon in the upper right hand of the screen (three stacked horizontal bars)

Open the Options Menu by clicking the box with the Gear in it

Navigate to the Account tab by clicking the Account Icon (The icon looks like a pawn in chess)

Toggle the Profanity filter option On or Off by clicking the arrows

 

Lifetime Refund Requests in Fortnite

 

Open the Settings menu in the top right of the Lobby screen by clicking the Menu icon in the upper right hand of the screen (three stacked horizontal bars)

Open the Options Menu by clicking the box with the Gear in it

 

 

Navigate to the Account tab by clicking the Account Icon (The icon looks like a pawn in chess)

Click the Submit a Request button

 

Note: You only get three Refund Requests EVER. Make sure that you talk to your kids and figure out how the accidental purchase was made so you can limit those situations in the future.


Where these tips useful? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

 

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

 

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Engaged Family Gaming Holiday
People buy a lot of games. That can make it incredibly challenging for those of us that want to buy cool games for the gamers in our lives. Fortunately, every console (including PC) has a subscription subscription service. These make “practical” gifts that will always be appreciated. These services  can all be purchased for various lengths of time to accommodate your budget. You don’t even need to worry about whether they are subscribed or not. `You can purchase a subscription card for them and the time will be added to the end of their existing subscription! Take a look at the options below to see what you might need!

PlayStation Plus

PlayStation Plus is a subscription service for PlayStation that is required in order to play online multiplayer games over the PlayStation Network. The service also includes periodic discounts on digital purchases through the PlayStation Network. It also includes a suite of free PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3, PlayStation  Vita, and PlayStation VR games that are available for free each month. (We wrote a parent’s guide for PlayStation Plus. Take a look here for a full explanation!)

PlayStation Now

PlayStation Now (PSNow) is a Netflix-esque streaming service for PlayStation 4 and PC. Subscribers have unlimited access to stream a collection of PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 games over the internet on their PlayStation 4 console or PC.

Xbox Game Pass

Xbox Game Pass is a service that allows unlimited downloads of a wide range of games on the Xbox One for a relatively low monthly fee. We wrote a parent’s guide to Xbox Game Pass. Take a look here for a full explanation!)

Xbox Live Gold

Xbox Live Gold is a subscription service for Xbox that is required in order to play online multiplayer games over Xbox Live. The service also includes periodic discounts on digital purchases through the Xbox Marketplace. It also includes a suite of free Xbox One and Xbox 360 games that are available for free each month. (We wrote a parent’s guide to this service. Take a look here for a full explanation!)

EA Access

EA Access is an Xbox One exclusive subscription service run by Electronic Arts that gives subscribers early access to EA games, discounts on digital purchases, and access to the “EA Vault.” (We wrote a parent’s guide to this service. Take a look here for a full explanation!)

EA Origins Access

Origins Access is a PC subscription service run by Electronic Arts that gives subscribers early access to EA games, discounts on digital purchases, and access to the “Origins Vault.” (We wrote a parent’s guide to this service. Take a look here for a full explanation!)

Nintendo Switch Online

Nintendo Switch online is a service that allows online multiplayer for Nintendo Switch games as well as cloud saves, and a suite of NES games. What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!
Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On! Follow us on Facebook! Like us on Twitter! Follow us on Instagram! Subscribe to our Newsletter! Subscribe to our Podcast!
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Engaged Family Gaming Holiday

The Holiday season is fast approaching! Games are coming out so fast that it can be very difficult to keep track. We take  time every year to list the very best family games of the year that came out on every console.

Take a look below for our list of the best video game gifts for PlayStation 4 owners!

(Full disclosure: These Amazon links are affiliate links. Purchases made using these links will help us earn revenue.)

Spider Man – PlayStation 4

Spider-Man may well be our game of the year this year. It is a fantastic game that features a character that kids love. It is rated T for teen and earns that rating thanks to frequent combat with gun toting enemies, but it is a great story that features interesting takes on long time villains and heroes. I can’t understate how wonderful the movement feels though. Web swinging through Insomniac Games’ s interpretation of Manhattan is invigorating. This is a must own for PS4 owners this year.

Dragon Ball FighterZ – Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

Dragon Ball FighterZ is one of the best fighting games and the bestDragon Ball of the year. It is a three on three tag team brawl with a character roster than pulls from the deepest corners ofDragon Ball lore. It was developed by Arc System Works, a company known for high quality animation and flashy combat.Dragon Ball FighterZ is a beautiful game to watch thanks to its tag and assist system, but the real fun starts when you take the controls yourself. This is a very accessible fighting game that is great for tweens.

Ni No Kuni 2 Revenant Kingdom – PlayStation 4, PC

Ni No Kuni 2 is an adventure role playing games set in a world with both anime and western fantasy appeal. The art style and thematic soul of this epic comes from Level 5 studios working with the same studio headed by Hiyo Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle). The story of a fallen leader’s return to power after a sudden betrayal features a supporting cast that would be just as home in Redwall or [The board game about mouse soliders?] The story and game play is more approachable to younger adult gamer than its original title, replacing an in game strategy guide and Pokémon style monster collection with a more organic tutorial and explanations centered around a steady cast of playable characters. This game was loads of fun to play and has themes and stories for both parents and children alike, if you can get through all of the puns that show up in the supporting cast and side missions. Definite Recommend for this holiday season.

Mega Man Legacy Collection 1 and 2 – Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

Purchase these games on the PSN here!

Mega Man is a well loved character and Mega Man 1 through 10 are the reason why. These two collections include 10 devilishly challenging platformers that have inspired a generation of gamers. This is a must own for families that have an interest in gaming history.

Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 and 2 -Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

You can also purchase just the first collection digitally here!

Mega Man X is one of the best platformers on the Super Nintendo and it spawned a series of sequels that kept ramping up the action. Capcom released two Mega Man X collections this year. The second collection falls flat, but collection 1 included Mega Man X through X4 and is a great value.

Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion – Xbox One, PlayStation 4

Adventure Time may have come to an end on September 3rd, but there are still adventures to be had. Pirates of the Enchiridion is a great way to keep the fun going. It is an open world RPG where you explore the land of Ooo one last time with a party of classic Adventure Time characters. The animation is of particular note here as it captures the irreverent nature of the show perfectly.

Sonic Mania Plus – Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

Sonic Mania was a big deal when it came out initially. Many critics lauded it as the best Sonic the Hedgehog game in decades. (Some went so far as to say it was the best Sonic game of all time). Sonic Mania Plus is a re-release that also includes two new characters: Mighty the Armadillo and Ray the Flying Squirrel. They both move differently from Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles and have different powers.

Dragon Quest 11 -PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

Sometimes you just want to play an epic-length, gorgeous, JRPG. Dragon Quest XI is just that. DQXI is a simple game that rewards exploration and experimentation. The cast of characters is interesting and different enough that everyone will have their favorites. This will be a great game to help spend some of the cold winter days that will come after the Holidays.

Valkyria Chronicles 4 -Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Nintendo Switch

Valkyria Chronicles 4 is the spiritual successor to the popular PS3 title after two offshoot titles launched for the PS Vita. The game is a tactical strategy game set in an alternate, and more fantastical, version of Europe during the Second World War. The game unfolds in a series of journal entries placing the battles in context of a series of well told cut scenes and storyboards. Game play alternates between battles where you control each character in a unit as you advance and fight your way to an objective, and coordinating and upgrading your ever increasing squad in an offstage headquarters. This is a family friendly title that bridges the gap between the popular title XCOM 2 and Mario + Rabbid’s Kingdom Battle. It also has a playable demo with a save that can be rolled over to the full title. A strong title for strategy or warfare fans.

Mega Man 11 -Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Nintendo Switch

Price: $18.95
Was: $29.99

It’s been eight years since the release of a new official Mega Man game and we have been long overdue. Mega Man is one of the essential franchises that gave birth to the platforming genre, and this newcomer to the Mega Man family is a most welcome addition. It promises new mechanics and challenges that will push the series to new heights. If you are a fan of the series or a fan of retro platforming games, then Mega Man 11 is a no brainer.

Starlink: Battle for Atlas -Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Nintendo Switch

Starlink: Battle for Atlas was my game of the show at E3 this year. I was stunned to see a toys to life game (not called Skylanders) in 2018 and I loved it.

This is releasing this holiday season on all three major consoles and on PC, but the best place to play Starlink is going to be on Switch where it will feature exclusive content based on the legendary Star Fox franchise.

Just Dance 2019 -Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

What is there to say about Just Dance that hasn’t been said before? This is becoming one of the most venerable franchises in gaming. Just Dance is released every year with new dance routines and new songs to very little coverage from gaming sites. Just Dance 2019 has a large audience and you’ll know if your family falls into it. Do you love music? Do you love dancing? If the answer to either of those questions is yes, then this should be on your radar.

Spyro Reignited Trilogy – Xbox One, PlayStation 4

Spyro is more than just a Skylander. He was the mascot for a whole bunch of 3d platformers. His games where some of the first in the genre though so they are both well loved and in need of a fresh coat of paint. Vicarious Visions has rebuild the first three Spyro games with loving detail. I went hands on with the Spyro collection while I was at E3 and I loved what I saw so far. This is going to be a great gift for your family. This is especially true if you are a parent who loved the Spyro games in the past and want to share them with your kids.


What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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Engaged Family Gaming Holiday

The Holiday season is fast approaching! Games are coming out so fast that it can be very difficult to keep track. We take  time every year to list the very best family games of the year that came out on every console.

Take a look below for our list of the best video game gifts for Nintendo Switch owners!

(Full disclosure: These Amazon links are affiliate links. Purchases made using these links will help us earn revenue.)

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Nintendo Switch

Price: Check on Amazon

Fans of our podcast will know that this is one of our most hyped games of the year. We haven’t been able to play this game a great deal so far, but everything that we have seen points to Ultimate being a great Smash experience. If your family has enjoyed Smash Bros on other platforms and owns a Switch, then this should be under your tree.

 

 

Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee

Nintendo Switch

The next Generation of Pokemon games won’t be out until next year. But, younger players and players who have come to the Pokemon fandom will have their own game this year. Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu! and Pokemon: Let’s Go Eevee! Are coming out just in time for the holidays. They are different versions of the same story, but they each feature a different partner Pokemon for your trainer. 

 

 

Dragon Ball  FighterZ

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

Dragon Ball FighterZ is one of the best fighting games and the best Dragon Ball game of the year. It is a three on three tag team brawl with a character roster than pulls from the deepest corners of Dragon Ball lore. It was developed by Arc System Works, a company known for high quality animation and flashy combat. Dragon Ball FighterZ is a beautiful game to watch thanks to its tag and assist system, but the real fun starts when you take the controls yourself. This is a very accessible fighting game that is great for tweens.

 

 

Kirby Star Allies

Nintendo Switch

Kirby games have always been great for kids, but Kirby Star Allies is just as great for families to play together. It features up to four player co-op so whole family can get in on the action (most of the time). My favorite part of Star Allies is the theme. It’s all about love, cooperation, and friendship. Your family is in for a lot of fun together if you pick this one up.

 

 

Nintendo LABO

Nintendo Switch

Who doesn’t want a cool activity to do with your family on a Holiday morning? The advantage to Nintendo LABO kits is that they are both a game AND a STEM construction activity. There are three kits available right now. The Variety Kit includes several smaller kits including a fishing rod, a piano, and a house. The Robot Kit includes a massive backpack powered device that lets you control a giant transforming robot. The Vehicle Kit includes materials for three steering devices; one for a car, one for a plane, and one for a submarine.

 

 

Mega Man Legacy Collection 1 and 2

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

Mega Man is a well loved character and Mega Man 1 through 10 are the reason why. These two collections include 10 devilishly challenging platformers that have inspired a generation of gamers. This is a must own for families that have an interest in gaming history.

 

 

Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 and 2

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

Mega Man X is one of the best platformers on the Super Nintendo and it spawned a series of sequels that kept ramping up the action. Capcom released two Mega Man X collections this year. The second collection falls flat, but collection 1 included Mega Man X through X4 and is a great value.

 

 

 

Mario Tennis Aces

Nintendo Switch

Mario Tennis was a huge disappointment on the Wii U. I was super nervous about whether or not Mario Tennis Aces on the Switch would be a repeat. Fortunately, it wasn’t. Aces is gorgeous, mechanically sound, and full of multiplayer fun. This one should definitely be on your radar if your family has (or will have) a Switch.

 

 

 

Sonic Mania Plus

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

Sonic Mania was a big deal when it came out initially. Many critics lauded it as the best Sonic the Hedgehog game in decades. (Some went so far as to say it was the best Sonic game of all time). Sonic Mania Plus is a re-release that also includes two new characters: Mighty the Armadillo and Ray the Flying Squirrel. They both move differently from Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles and have different powers.

 

 

Valkyria Chronicles 4

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Nintendo Switch

Valkyria Chronicles 4 is the spiritual successor to the popular PS3 title after two offshoot titles launched for the PS Vita. The game is a tactical strategy game set in an alternate, and more fantastical, version of Europe during the Second World War. The game unfolds in a series of journal entries placing the battles in context of a series of well told cut scenes and storyboards. Game play alternates between battles where you control each character in a unit as you advance and fight your way to an objective, and coordinating and upgrading your ever increasing squad in an offstage headquarters. This is a family friendly title that bridges the gap between the popular title XCOM (and XCOM 2) and [Mario and Rabbid’s Tactics battle?] and also has a playable demo with a save that can be rolled over to the full title. A strong title for strategy or warfare fans.

 

 

Mega Man 11

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

It’s been eight years since the release of a new official Mega Man game and we have been long overdue. Mega Man is one of the essential franchises that gave birth to the platforming genre, and this newcomer to the Mega Man family is a most welcome addition. It promises new mechanics and challenges that will push the series to new heights. If you are a fan of the series or a fan of retro platforming games, then Mega Man 11 is a no brainer.

 

 

Starlink: Battle for Atlas

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Nintendo Switch

Starlink: Battle for Atlas was my game of the show at E3 this year. I was stunned to see a toys to life game (not called Skylanders) in 2018 and I loved it.

This is releasing this holiday season on all three major consoles and on PC, but the best place to play Starlink is going to be on Switch where it will feature exclusive content based on the legendary Star Fox franchise.

 

 

Just Dance 2019

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

What is there to say about Just Dance that hasn’t been said before? This is becoming one of the most venerable franchises in gaming. Just Dance is released every year with new dance routines and new songs to very little coverage from gaming sites. Just Dance 2019 has a large audience and you’ll know if your family falls into it. Do you love music? Do you love dancing? If the answer to either of those questions is yes, then this should be on your radar.


What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

Follow us on Facebook!

Like us on Twitter!

Follow us on Instagram!

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Subscribe to our Podcast!

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Engaged Family Gaming Holiday

The Holiday season is fast approaching! Games are coming out so fast that it can be very difficult to keep track. We take  time every year to list the very best family games of the year that came out on every console.

Take a look below for our list of the best video game gifts for Xbox One owners!

(Full disclosure: These Amazon links are affiliate links. Purchases made using these links will help us earn revenue.)

Dragon Ball FighterZ

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

Dragon Ball FighterZ is one of the best fighting games and the bestDragon Ball of the year. It is a three on three tag team brawl with a character roster than pulls from the deepest corners ofDragon Ball lore. It was developed by Arc System Works, a company known for high quality animation and flashy combat.Dragon Ball FighterZ is a beautiful game to watch thanks to its tag and assist system, but the real fun starts when you take the controls yourself. This is a very accessible fighting game that is great for tweens.

 

 

Mega Man Legacy Collection 1 and 2

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

You can purchase a combo pack of these two games on the Microsoft Store!

Mega Man is a well loved character and Mega Man 1 through 10 are the reason why. These two collections include 10 devilishly challenging platformers that have inspired a generation of gamers. This is a must own for families that have an interest in gaming history.

 

 

Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 and 2

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

Mega Man X is one of the best platformers on the Super Nintendo and it spawned a series of sequels that kept ramping up the action. Capcom released two Mega Man X collections this year. The second collection falls flat, but collection 1 included Mega Man X through X4 and is a great value.

 

 

 

Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion

Xbox One, PlayStation 4

Adventure Time may have come to an end on September 3rd, but there are still adventures to be had. Pirates of the Enchiridion is a great way to keep the fun going. It is an open world RPG where you explore the land of Ooo one last time with a party of classic Adventure Time characters. The animation is of particular note here as it captures the irreverent nature of the show perfectly.

 

 

 

Sonic Mania Plus

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

Sonic Mania was a big deal when it came out initially. Many critics lauded it as the best Sonic the Hedgehog game in decades. (Some went so far as to say it was the best Sonic game of all time). Sonic Mania Plus is a re-release that also includes two new characters: Mighty the Armadillo and Ray the Flying Squirrel. They both move differently from Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles and have different powers.

 

 

Valkyria Chronicles 4

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Nintendo Switch

Valkyria Chronicles 4 is the spiritual successor to the popular PS3 title after two offshoot titles launched for the PS Vita. The game is a tactical strategy game set in an alternate, and more fantastical, version of Europe during the Second World War. The game unfolds in a series of journal entries placing the battles in context of a series of well told cut scenes and storyboards. Game play alternates between battles where you control each character in a unit as you advance and fight your way to an objective, and coordinating and upgrading your ever increasing squad in an offstage headquarters. This is a family friendly title that bridges the gap between the popular title XCOM 2 and Mario + Rabbid’s Kingdom Battle. It also has a playable demo with a save that can be rolled over to the full title. A strong title for strategy or warfare fans.

 

 

Mega Man 11

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Nintendo Switch

Price: $17.89
Was: $18.98

It’s been eight years since the release of a new official Mega Man game and we have been long overdue. Mega Man is one of the essential franchises that gave birth to the platforming genre, and this newcomer to the Mega Man family is a most welcome addition. It promises new mechanics and challenges that will push the series to new heights. If you are a fan of the series or a fan of retro platforming games, then Mega Man 11 is a no brainer.

 

 

Starlink: Battle for Atlas

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Nintendo Switch

Starlink: Battle for Atlas was my game of the show at E3 this year. I was stunned to see a toys to life game (not called Skylanders) in 2018 and I loved it.

This is releasing this holiday season on all three major consoles and on PC, but the best place to play Starlink is going to be on Switch where it will feature exclusive content based on the legendary Star Fox franchise.

 

 

Forza Horizon 4

Xbox One

The Forza Horizon series has always been a hit and they keep getting better. The fourth entry in the series takes players to the countryside of England. It also adds seasons to the game that will pass every real world week. Xbox One families should definitely look at this one

(This game is also available for download if you are an Xbox Game Pass Member!)

 

 

Just Dance 2019

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

What is there to say about Just Dance that hasn’t been said before? This is becoming one of the most venerable franchises in gaming. Just Dance is released every year with new dance routines and new songs to very little coverage from gaming sites. Just Dance 2019 has a large audience and you’ll know if your family falls into it. Do you love music? Do you love dancing? If the answer to either of those questions is yes, then this should be on your radar.

 

 

Spyro Remastered Trilogy

Xbox One, PlayStation 4

Spyro is more than just a Skylander. He was the mascot for a whole bunch of 3d platformers. His games where some of the first in the genre though so they are both well loved and in need of a fresh coat of paint. Vicarious Visions has rebuild the first three Spyro games with loving detail. I went hands on with the Spyro collection while I was at E3 and I loved what I saw so far. This is going to be a great gift for your family. This is especially true if you are a parent who loved the Spyro games in the past and want to share them with your kids.


What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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Family Gaming for Less Part 3 – More Hardware Concerns!

We’re sharing tips for saving money as a gaming family in our newest guide! We will help you choose a gaming console, where and how to buy games, and we’ll even talk about accessories.

First, we talked about games and how to save money buying them. Then, in part two, we talked about consoles. 

This time we talk about some of the specific hardware options you have.

Video

Table space is an issue when setting up multiple systems at home. Fortunately modern consoles and computers will work with any display with an HDMI port. In space constrained situations a monitor is a great alternative to a television. A small projector and blank wall also works for dark rooms.

Audio

Listening to someone playing games can be distracting. With several people in the same space noise quickly becomes an issue. During gaming sessions this means speakers get turned up and people talk louder. Fortunately, using headphones means speakers are unnecessary.

Windows PCs have separate headphone and microphone physical inputs. Some games have voice chat built-in or Steam has voice chat capabilities. Typically PC games default to “push to talk” mode, where a keyboard key must be held while talking.

Microsoft and PlayStation consoles both use headsets plugged into the controller. When connected the headphones can play game sounds and voice chat. A mix between game and voice is available in the console menus. With everyone wired for sound you are ready for “party chat”. Both the PlayStation and Xbox consoles offer group voice chat which works across games.

The Switch has a headphone jack on the console. Any headphones will work – no microphone required. Nintendo does not offer a system-wide voice chat service on the Switch. A smartphone app is required instead. You may want headphones with a mic however, as individual game developers can add voice chat to their games. Fortnite is one example of this.

Adding an inexpensive gaming headset to any device will cut down on noise. Even if the family isn’t playing the same game everyone can join party chat. It is rewarding to share in the moments of triumph or defeat as a group! And mobile phone headsets work with consoles if you aren’t ready for a dedicated gaming headset.

Bonus Xbox engaged family tip: With the free Xbox smartphone app you can join parties from your phone. No console required! A great way to keep an ear on your kids’ social gaming.

Controllers and Power

PC games will often support Xbox 360, Xbox One, and/or PlayStation 4 controllers. Games even show correct button prompts in game. Steam sells their own controller, which supports advanced customization. This makes it difficult to use for most people though..

PlayStation 4 controllers integrate a rechargeable battery. Controllers use a micro USB cable. The micro USB end can break off if handled roughly. Controllers also include a charging port on the bottom. Look for controller charging stands which use this bottom port.

Xbox One controllers use AA batteries or custom rechargeable battery packs. Using a micro USB cable the controller can charge some battery packs. These cables can break off if not handled with care. Externally charged AA batteries or battery packs are also available.

Switch Joy-Con controllers charge while attached to the Switch itself. Other charging stands are also available. The Switch itself and Switch Pro controller have integrated batteries. They both use the newer USB C standard to charge. Third party chargers have damaged Switch consoles and Nintendo does not cover this under warranty.

Recommendations

Best Console for the Family to Share

If you only buy one video game console for your family consider the Switch. The ability to play multiplayer games with the Joy-Con controllers saves money on accessories. There are many games available for Switch and the library is growing quickly. There are many titles with couch co-op support and innovative experiences such as the cardboard building Labo. Nintendo is also produces excellent family-friendly games exclusive to the Switch. Being able to take the system on the go means family trips can be a little easier too.

Example couch multiplayer family games exclusive to Switch consoles:

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Snipperclips

Best Console for Multiple Gamer Families

The Xbox One is the best console for most families. Xbox Game Pass provides a decent library of titles both new and old. Backward Compatibility plays inexpensive original Xbox and Xbox 360 game discs. The Xbox Store gifting feature makes it easy to manage multiple accounts. Xbox One supports multiple external hard drives. Players can play on any console without worrying about saved game management. Some games even work on both Xbox and Windows 10. The downside of Xbox is the smaller pool of multiplayer opponents. For most families this is unlikely to be an issue.

Example multiplayer family games exclusive to Xbox One consoles:

Sea of Thieves

Subnautica

Forza Horizons 3: Hot Wheels Expansion
Carcassonne

Best Console for Multiplayer Outside the Family

PlayStation 4 is the best choice for a console for those who want to play primarily multiplayer games with people outside the family. The larger player base of PlayStation means more people to play with. And PlayStation Now is moving to compete with Xbox  Game Pass. You must do more work to manage game purchases across multiple accounts however. Commit to each member of the family using a specific console however. Switching between consoles is a frustrating experience.

Example multiplayer family games exclusive to PlayStation 4 consoles:

LittleBigPlanet 3

100ft Robot Golf

MLB The Show 18

Wrap Up

Thanks for reading! Please share this article with anyone who needs help saving money on video games. We’re always happy to hear your feedback..

The video game marketplace is constantly changing. Check back for future updates to this guide.

Stay engaged and happy family gaming!

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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Family Gaming For Less Part 2 – Hardware Options

We’re sharing tips for saving money as a gaming family in our newest guide! We will help you choose a gaming console, where and how to buy games, and we’ll even talk about accessories. Last time we talked about where to buy your games and how to save money buying them. 

This time it’s all about the hardware!

Windows PC

Maintaining multiple gaming PCs can be time consuming and expensive. This may work for families with a Windows computer technician in house. When planning your gaming budget keep in mind the cost of hardware upgrades.

There are solutions to play your office computer in the family room. The Steam Link and Nvidia Shield both support this feature. There are limitations and network requirements however so investigate further if this sounds useful.

Mac

Both Steam and GOG support Mac computers. Maintaining multiple Mac computers is easier than Windows PCs for most people. Many games are not available on Mac though. Available games often run slower or with fewer graphical features.

Nintendo Switch

The Switch costs US$300 and has a strong selection of games. Many games on the Switch allow you to share its standard “Joy-Con” controllers for couch co-op multiplayer sessions. This can be awkward for large hands because the Joy-Con is physically small. The Switch Joy-Con controllers are the most expensive at US$80 MSRP. Nintendo also offers a “Pro” controller similar in design to the Xbox and PlayStation controllers. The Pro controller retails for US$70.

The Switch uses microSD cards for data storage. Smaller size microSD cards are inexpensive at 64GB for less than US$20. Prices rise significantly for the cards with the most storage. Switch physical cartridges also require microSD storage for patches. Families planning large Switch game libraries should consider the cost of digital game storage versus the convenience.

PlayStation 4

The PlayStation 4 costs US$300 and has the biggest installed base of modern consoles. It is often the best choice for multiplayer gaming outside the family. There is a limited selection of couch multiplayer games and each player must have their own US$60 MSRP controller. PlayStation 4 owners cannot play online games with players on Xbox One or Switch.

The PlayStation allows you to use a single external USB 3 hard drive to expand the internal storage. This drive can be up to 8TB in size. You cannot use a USB hub to connect the external drive. Once formatted it is only readable by the PlayStation. Moving the drive requires ejecting it from the PlayStation settings menu first. PlayStation supports copying games between the internal console and external hard drive storage.

PlayStation uploads saved games only from the primary console. This is a problem for families using multiple consoles! Accessing saved games requires multiple steps on both consoles. PlayStation limits online storage to 10GB of saved data per user.

The PlayStation 4 supports “remote play” – where a PC, Mac, Vita, or PlayStation TV can access the PlayStation in the same house or over the Internet. The feature requires a PlayStation 4 controller and free software download for PC and Mac. Local and remote players can only play the same game together. Remote Play prevents the PlayStation from playing another game.

Microsoft Xbox

Xbox One S consoles are US$300. There are limited couch multiplayer games on Xbox – similar in quantity to the PlayStation 4. The Xbox One is less popular than the PlayStation 4. This can be a problem when trying to play older multiplayer games online since there are fewer potential players. PlayStation 4 and Xbox One gamers cannot play online games together. Some specific titles do support playing with Switch, Windows PC, and mobile.

Controllers are US$60 MSRP. Microsoft offers a custom controller design option as well for US$70 where you can choose various color options to create a unique controller. This can make a fantastic gift!

Xbox also supports two unique controller options. Copilot allows two controllers to both fully control a single game. This is a great option for a younger player who needs a little help. It is also popular with gamers with disabilities. Even more exciting is the Xbox Adaptive Controller. This uses industry standard assistive devices to connect to a controller base, enabling a range of new options for gamers with disabilities.

Xbox supports attaching two external USB 3 hard drives. Each drive can be up to 8TB in size. Attaching two smaller drives is a cost effective choice as well since they are often inexpensive. Once formatted a drive is only readable by Xboxes. You can move the drive between Xboxes by unplugging the drive.

The Xbox supports moving games between drives on the same system and between Xboxes on the same network. This can save money on metered Internet connections. One Xbox can copy games to other consoles.

The Xbox synchronizes saved games to the cloud so switching between Xbox consoles is painless. Launching a game first time on a new console and it downloads the saved game. Updating saved games occurs in the background while playing. Storage for this saved game syncing is unlimited.

A free Windows 10 Xbox app allows remote play with an Xbox console at home. The Xbox can only play one game at a time however.

Mixed Platforms and Cross Play

Playing together using multiple video game platforms has limitations. Most games rely on the video game console or Steam multiplayer services. Only games with “cross play” features can play together across different systems. A “party” – a group of people like a family – playing together is often a separate consideration; not all cross play games support cross parties.

Fortnite, Rocket League, and Minecraft are the most popular games with crossplay. Rocket League plans to add cross-party play in late 2018. These games support Xbox, Switch, PC, and – excepting Rocket League – even mobile devices. Absent from any cross play is PlayStation. Sony has so far not made cross play possible according to developers.

A more limited version of cross play is Microsoft’s “Xbox Play Anywhere” and “cross platform” programs. Xbox Play Anywhere provides a license for both the Xbox and Windows 10 version of the game with a digital purchase. A single account shares the game with all users on the computer. With an Xbox and Windows 10 PC this can save money! However, the small game selection limits the usefulness of Xbox Play Anywhere.

Not all Xbox Play Anywhere titles support cross platform multiplayer. Look for these features on the game’s store page. Some examples of games with Xbox Play Anywhere and cross-play are: Sea of Thieves, Forza Horizons 3, and Ark: Survival Evolved.


That was a whole lot of info right? And we aren’t even close to done! Come check back for part three soon!!


About the Author

Adrian Luff is a lifelong video gamer with three video game obsessed boys and a very understanding wife. He is fortunate enough to have worked in the video game industry for over 20 years building online services for multiplayer gaming. He worked on servers for Battle.net used by the Starcraft, Diablo, and Warcraft games. He also designed the launch infrastructure for World of Warcraft. Adrian leads a team of engineers building robust systems, infrastructure, and developer tools for Twitch.tv (a division of Amazon).

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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Family Gaming For Less!  Part 1 – Where to Buy Games!

We’re sharing tips for saving money as a gaming family in our newest guide! We will help you choose a gaming console, where and how to buy games, and we’ll even talk about accessories. 

We’ll be paying special attention to saving money when playing on multiple systems in the same house.

That’s because finding enjoyable couch co-op games is challenging. Finding couch co-op games suitable for the entire family is an epic quest! Many games now support multiplayer exclusively online with only one player per system. Families are increasingly purchasing one console per family member. It isn’t uncommon to have a house with several Xboxes anymore.

Video game system prices have dropped in recent years but multiple gaming consoles is still an expensive proposition! Picking the right gaming platform can save thousands over the lifetime of that system.

The Game Stores

The first, and probably most important decision, is where you will by your games. There are several online platforms or “digital stores” selling games online. The games they sell don’t have discs or cartridges. They exist only as files on your computer or console. The online stores use Digital Rights Management (DRM) to control how you can use their downloaded games.

These are small details that might not seem important, but you need to know and understand them in order to stretch your budget.

Windows – Steam

Steam is an online store that sells digital games for PC, Mac, and Linux. Steam provides a guide to enable Family Sharing. This feature enables sharing your game library with up to five family members. Only one person at a time can use the library however.

Logging in to Steam kicks other users out after a few minutes. Multiplayer requires purchasing a copy of each game for each player.

Steam games are often on sale. Many games are 20% off at launch, which is appealing on its own.. There are also several Steam sales throughout the year (a Summer sale in May and a Winter Sale in January for example).

You can also buy digital games for use on the Steam platform on other sites. Websites like Humble Store and GreenManGaming sell “game keys” composed of strings of number and letters. You can use these keys to add the game to your Steam library.

The competitive marketplace keeps prices low, but purchasing 4 copies, even at 20% off, is not the most cost effective option.

Windows – GOG

An alternative to Steam is GOG. This is a service that offers DRM-free PC games. GOG games are downloaded as ZIP files or using an optional client named GOG Galaxy. The client downloads, installs, and updates games. It is possible to purchase games from GOG once and copy them to multiple computers since they are DRM free. This isn’t a perfect solution because some games require GOG Galaxy for multiplayer. If that is the case, then each player must have their own copy of the game.

Games using the Steam multiplayer system can only be sold through the Steam store. GOG has made it easy for game developers to use the GOG multiplayer system instead. Usually playing the GOG version of a game means playing with only other GOG customers. That’s fine – maybe even preferable – for family gaming. It will, however, cause frustration if you try to play with friends who own the Steam version of a game. You won’t be able to see those Steam friends!

Editor’s note: GOG used to be called Good Old Games because they focused on keeping older games playable on modern PC operating systems. They recently changed their name to GOG and I had no idea until Adrian corrected me. Just goes to show… I don’t know EVERYTHING. 😉

Nintendo eShop

The Switch is an appealing platform. The same games can be played on the TV at home or on the go. And Switch has a great library of family friendly couch co-op games. But multiple Switch consoles is a budget buster for many families. Nintendo’s DRM restricts digital games to a single console, even when online. Playing together requires that each family member own a copy of the game.

PlayStation Store and Xbox Store

Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One consoles have similar DRM policies. They allow an account to play a purchased digital game on the “primary” or “home” console. Each account picks a single, specific console as home. This can be the same console for multiple accounts. Sony and Microsoft permit the home console to change only a few times however.

Each account can simultaneously play a purchased game on the home console and any other console while online. Buying two copies of a game allows four family members to play – including multiplayer! This is known as “Game Sharing”. This works with two consoles and even four – with two copies of games. 

Buying Multiple Copies of Games

Rewards

There are easy ways to save money on games for any platform. There are free rewards programs available: Nintendo Gold Points, Sony Rewards, and Microsoft Rewards. Each offers about 1% of purchases back as points. You can then redeem points for gift cards or other rewards. Make sure to check the program details as they each have their own quirks.

For example, you earn points using Bing web search and by completing surveys in the Microsoft program. There are many rewards available, including Xbox Live and Xbox Game Pass memberships at discounted prices. Many people find they can pay for a year of both Xbox Live and Game Pass membership just by using Bing search daily.

Sales and Wishlists

Look for the weekly digital game sales on your platform of choice. Savings range from 25% to 75% off. Subscribers to PlayStation Plus often save an additional 10% on sale items. Xbox Live Gold members have a special weekly sale. Patience pays off as most games will go on sale at least once a year.

If you don’t have time to track the weekly sales you can still save. Steam, PlayStation Store, and Nintendo’s eShop for Switch all have wishlist features in their digital game stores. Steam will even email you when something on your wishlist is on sale! There are also many third party sites which offer price tracking like IsThereAnyDeal for Steam, TrueAchievements for Xbox One, and TrueTrophies for PlayStation. Each sites offers multiple notification options. These sites require an account to track your wishlist.

Saving on Digital Games

Using specific payment options can also save money.

Sony offers the Sony Card with 5X points (~5%) on entertainment purchases, including those from the PlayStation Store. The credit card company deposits points in the linked Sony Rewards account each month. This discount stacks with the rewards points earned from purchases via Sony’s digital game store. Redeem points for PlayStation gift cards.

Families may already have a Target Red credit or debit card, offering 5% off purchases at Target. This discount applies to gift cards. Target charges an additional 5% on digital gift cards delivered by email however. Saving requires a trip to the store.

Amazon offers the Amazon Prime Store credit card with 5% back on purchases at Amazon. You must be a paying Amazon Prime member to qualify. Amazon offers Nintendo, PlayStation, and Xbox digital gift cards delivered by email.

Remember gift cards are not subject to sales tax. And the discounted gift cards “stack” with any game sales for more savings!

Gifting Games

Gifting digital games is available on Steam and the Xbox Store. This is helpful as it allows you to maintain a single account with funds. Use this “primary” account to purchase games for the whole family and gift them to your children’s accounts. This also serves as an anti-fraud measure, because you won’t have to add a payment method to your children’s accounts.

Microsoft rewards points are also in a single account when using this approach with Xbox for faster accumulation. Microsoft parental controls also support “request to purchase” on child accounts. However, you can only gift DLC as “request to purchase” does not work. In-game currency such as Fortnite V-bucks require purchasing from the child account. In this situation you can apply a gift card to your child’s account only for the needed amount. Microsoft has said they are working to improve the process.

PlayStation and Xbox Online Services

PlayStation and Xbox require a paid membership subscription to play games online named Sony PlayStation Plus and Microsoft Xbox Live Gold. Each costs US$60 per year. Alternate subscription lengths are also available. Buying a membership for one account will enable online play for anyone logged into that player’s primary or home console. The paying account can also play online from any console while logged into the Internet.

Subscription Services

Microsoft Xbox Game Pass

Microsoft has a Netflix-style service dubbed Xbox Game Pass for US$10 per month. This offers a library of “over 100” games available for download. Game Pass games are available to anyone on the purchaser’s home console. The paying account can also play these games from any console while logged into the Internet.

With Game Pass for the family you have games everyone can play together. Microsoft has stated games they publish will remain in the library. Microsoft adds or removes other games periodically. Game Pass offers a sliding discount up to 20% to buy games in the library based on the game’s age. Game Pass games don’t include DLC but there is a 10% discount to buy it. The Game Pass discount only applies to full price games and DLC.

It is worth mentioning that not all games in Game Pass are family friendly, nor are they all multiplayer titles. Some are older Xbox 360 games that play on Xbox One but lack the high resolution and performance of newer games. There are multiple games from many genres including multiplayer family favorites Zoo Tycoon, Rocket League, and Lego Star Wars. The complete list is available here.

EA Access for Xbox

EA Access is a subscription specific to game publisher EA. It is available for US$30 per year on Xbox One only. Sports gamers can enjoy last year’s version of EA’s Madden, FIFA, hockey, and basketball games. EA also makes Battlefield, Need for Speed, and Plants vs. Zombies series which all have games included. Overall EA Access offers a smaller and older selection of games compared to Xbox Game Pass. Game Pass includes none of EA’s games.

EA Origin Access Basic and Premiere for PC

EA Origin is the PC counterpart to EA Access on Xbox. There are two levels available: Basic and Premiere. Basic is a separate PC-only subscription also for US$30 per year. The game selection is similar to EA Access on Xbox One but includes games from other publishers.

EA Origin Access Premiere is US$15 per month and adds newly EA published games immediately. This can be appealing for gamers who buy several EA titles for PC each year.

Sony PlayStation Now

PlayStation has the PlayStation Now service for US$30 for three months. This offers a library of games for PlayStation 3 plus a few for PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 4. The service streams gameplay across the Internet rather than downloading games to the console. For any multiplayer games you will need a great Internet connection to support four or even two players. Instead of streaming games over the Internet it is rumored Sony will add support for downloading Playstation 4 games to a Playstation 4 console. PlayStation families should check back in the coming months for updates.

Xbox Backward Compatibility

One budget-friendly option for families is backward compatibility on Xbox One. Simply insert a supported original Xbox or Xbox 360 game disc into the Xbox One. The console downloads a small update and the games are ready to play. The list of Backward Compatible games is available from Xbox Community Manager Major Nelson’s site.

There are several sources for inexpensive used Xbox 360 game discs. eBay, Walmart, Best Buy, and Amazon all sell used Xbox 360 games. This can be a cost effective way to expand your family game library. Also, digital copies of almost all backward compatible games are available in the Xbox store.

Game Sharing and Always Online

Game sharing lets you use digital game licenses on two consoles simultaneously. This is key to economical family gaming on both Microsoft and Sony’s consoles. Xbox accounts have a home console. Similarly for PlayStation accounts there is a primary console. Changing the home console is possible only a few times.

The home or primary console can always play games. The second console must be always online and connected to the Internet. If the Internet is not available then the console will not be able to play purchased digital games. If PlayStation Network or Xbox Live are down the second console will also be unable to play. This has ruined Christmas for some people.


That was a whole lot of info right? And we aren’t even close to done! Come check back for part two tomorrow!


About the Author

Adrian Luff is a lifelong video gamer with three video game obsessed boys and a very understanding wife. He is fortunate enough to have worked in the video game industry for over 20 years building online services for multiplayer gaming. He worked on servers for Battle.net used by the Starcraft, Diablo, and Warcraft games. He also designed the launch infrastructure for World of Warcraft. Adrian leads a team of engineers building robust systems, infrastructure, and developer tools for Twitch.tv (a division of Amazon).

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

Follow us on Facebook!

Like us on Twitter!

Follow us on Instagram!

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

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