Console gaming at college: Xbox One or Sony Playstation 4?

The craze behind keeping up with the latest video console is a normal part of a student's life. (Courtesy of EMR)

The craze behind keeping up with the latest video console is a normal part of a student’s life. (Courtesy of EMR)

It’s a sellout, no matter which new video game console you’re talking about. Both the Sony Playstation 4 and the Microsoft Xbox One left gamers waiting as the preorders and sales left shelves empty the week of their release, and game console sales are – for the moment – healthy. On November 17, 2013, Sony sold more than 1 million units of the Playstation 4 within 24 hours of its release. Despite a price point about $100 higher (the Xbox One is retailing for $499, while the Sony Playstation is going for $399), Microsoft’s Xbox One had similar results: in the 24 hours of its debut on November 21, the Xbox One sold more than 1 million units, and retailers were left waiting to restock their shelves. While video games and college students may not always go together – it’s not a great idea to stay up playing Halo instead of studying for your finals – video game consoles are a common enough dorm room feature that many colleges have how-to pages for device registration right on their websites. Here’s what you need to know about whether or not to have a video game console with you at college – and which of the new systems (if either) better fits your needs.

Video game console in the dorm room

If you love video games, should you take your console to college? While some stigma about video gaming remains, most current college students grew up with video game consoles as a normal part of life. They’re great for relaxation, and they’re popular enough that they make the recommended list of gifts for college students according to media outlets like the Sun Chronicle. The contributor of the article “Help college students this holiday season,” posted on October 8, 2013, recommended a video game console as an ideal gift: “[A] gaming console can help students unwind from the stresses of schoolwork… [and] can also be a great way for them to make new friends who share similar interests.”

In student forums, gamers recommend bringing mostly team or multiplayer games to college for exactly that reason – gaming can help create new friendships and give students ways to hang out together when they need a break from studying. Some students warned, however, not to leave the console in a public space, like a joint living room in a dorm suite, where it could get stolen or broken. 

Will console gaming last?

It’s been seven years since the last big console release – PS3 vs. Xbox 360 vs. Wii – and the world of games has changed a lot since then. Do consumers really want to shell out the big bucks for a console gaming system when they’ve got iPhone and tablet games on smaller, more versatile devices?

Industry analysts are suspecting this batch of consoles may be the last ones to release in the shifting industry: sales were down 22% in console games last year, and 9% the year before that. Competition is coming from places with online game streaming, like Valve’s Steam and downloadable games like Angry Birds. But according to Simon Parkin of the MIT Technology Review, in his November 22, 2013, article “Xbox vs. Playstation: Beginning of the end for consoles?” “The sharp and ongoing rise in smartphone and tablet ownership has also vastly broadened the audience of gamers.” And the consoles are both capitalizing on streaming media: both feature Hulu, Netflix, HBO and ESPN access for subscribers, and the Playstation 4 has a streaming game channel built in. But Parkin also pointed out that the competition for consoles has never been fiercer – along with the smaller handheld games, Smart TVs that connect to the Internet have started to take up some of that gaming space.

So which one’s for you?

You’re sold on the idea of a new console, but you need to decide which one’s for you? Take a look at some quick comparisons from Will Greenwald of PC Magazine in his November 23, 2013, article “PS4 vs. Xbox One: Feature face-off.”

  • Price: Xbox One: $499, PS4: $399. The Xbox One does come with a Kinect camera, while the PS4’s camera costs an extra $60.
  • Controller: Xbox One has buttons that are somewhat awkwardly placed, while Greenwald said Sony’s “DualShock 4 controller is the most comfortable gamepad I’ve used yet.”
  • Games: The most important factor is figuring out what games you want to play and whether they’re exclusive.

Not in the mood to spend that much money? Consider this: the release of a new system is likely to make those old used systems drop at your local game store. Ask if there’s a refurbished Xbox 360 or PS3, and you may be able to buy old games – and accessories (like the Xbox Kinect, which can help you get a workout without leaving the dorm) – on the cheap.

Do you have a preference when it comes to video game consoles? Share with us why you feel that way in the comments!

6 replies
  1. ESTERLY says:

    Whenever you buy a video clip game for your children, you have to check out the ratings marked with ESRB. This will allow you recognize if the game you are acquiring is appropriate for your youngsters or if it has any materials that might not be ideal for children of certain age.


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