The Nintendo 3DS family of systems has been a boon to families for years. They are sturdy, compact handheld gaming systems with a huge library of cool games. Unfortunately, the way that Nintendo handled the naming, and the branding of the console as they have iterated on it over the years has created a very […]
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
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!
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