December 24, 2018 07:00 PM NPT
By: Ayush Pandey
Photo Courtesy: Agencies
From Xbox, PlayStation to Nintendo. Here's what you need to know before buying a gaming console.
In the early 2000s, knockoffs of Nintendo’s NES that played games like Super Mario Bros took the Nepali market by storm. It was then that the young understood the idea of a home entertainment system or a console. But the console craze started to fade away and modern console gaming never really took off.
Buying a separate device “just” to game on became a "no-no" and we started gaming on what we already had instead - mobile phones and PCs. However, console gaming recently is actually rising and getting popular in Nepal. So, if you want to jump to a console gaming bandwagon right now, here's what you should know before buying a gaming console.
PlayStation vs Xbox vs Nintendo
Let’s take the odd one out first i.e. Nintendo. Nintendo released it’s hybrid console Nintendo Switch about two years ago and is one of the fastest selling gaming consoles. But Nintendo Switch is difficult to find in the Nepali market. Equally hard is finding physical games for Switch. Getting a Nintendo Switch is recommended if you have an international payment gateway in order to buy games via Nintendo eShop or can wait for a while for the physical games to arrive. Nintendo Switch usually retails for around Rs 43-45k and can be found on very few retail shops of New Road and a couple of online stores.
Among the others two, it’s safe to say that Nepali people have always favored Playstation brand because of the popularity of PS2. Xbox is still an alien brand to many. It’s not really that hard to find someone who knows about the Playstation but has never heard about Xbox. But it’s not to say that Xbox is a bad console to buy by any means. There are advantages and disadvantages to each.
Sony and Microsoft offer two different consoles under the same brand - one is powerful and newer than the other one. Sony’s consoles are PS4 Slim and PS4 Pro, the latter being the powerful and the newer one. Microsoft’s consoles are Xbox One S and Xbox One X, the latter being the most powerful console right now. As much as they are powerful, they are equally expensive. Both PS4 Pro and Xbox One X is said to deliver 4K resolution in certain games whereas base PS4 Slim and Xbox One S caps out at 1080p.
Why buy PlayStation 4 Slim over Xbox One S?
PS4 Slim is a powerful console than Xbox One S. It usually runs games at higher resolution than Xbox One S and often at better and consistent FPS. Going the technical route, PS4 Slim has a 1.8 TF GPU whereas Xbox One S has a 1.4 TF one.
PS4 is officially sold in Nepal through authorized retailers. This results in better support, availability, and pricing. The Xbox One S, on the other hand, is not officially available in Nepal and is sold through various third-party resellers which results in high variation of the retail price.
Physical games for PS4 are widely available in Nepal. You can easily find physical copies for new releases through various retail stores. If you want to go the used route, there are hundreds of used games already available on Hamrobazaar for sale or exchange. There’s even a Nepali group in Facebook related to PlayStation games exchange. In short, there’s an established community exclusively for PlayStation in Nepal. Same cannot be said for Xbox.
PlayStation has a better and higher number of exclusive games. The game that won Game of The Year 2018 i.e. God Of War is only available on PS4. The exclusive games catalog includes critical hits like TLOU, Horizon Zero Dawn, Yakuza series, Spiderman and much more. On the Xbox side, there are some great exclusive games like Halo 5, Gears of War 4, Ori and The Blind Forest, Cuphead and Forza. But they pale in quantity as well as in quality compared to PS4s offerings.
Why buy Xbox One S over PS4 Slim?
Xbox One S usually retails for less than what PS4 does. PS4 Slim can be found for around 38k whereas Xbox One S can be found for about Rs 32k-35k.
Xbox One S has a built-in 4K Blu ray player whereas PS4 Slim doesn't. If you were to buy a dedicated 4K Blu Ray player alone, it could end up costing same as an Xbox One S.
Xbox One S has back compatibility with Xbox 360 and Xbox GO. This means you can play your older Xbox games on Xbox One without having to pay again. PS4 also has backward compatibility but it’s only for PS2.
The Game Pass of Xbox is an unbeatable service. It provides 150+ games for a monthly price of $10 ( about NPR 1100 ) which you can download and play until the subscription remain. The best part is that it includes all the Xbox exclusive titles like Forza, Halo, Sea of Thieves etc, and every future Xbox exclusive title will also be available on game pass. However, it’s near impossible to find the Xbox Game Pass gift card in Nepal. As a result, if you lack a proper international payment gateway method, you might have a hard time even paying for this service. PlayStation also offers a similar service but doesn’t have newer games and exclusives.
The Xbox One has Play Anywhere program through which you can play the game on both PC and Xbox by paying for just a single copy. Games like Gears Of War 4, Forza Horizon 4, Shadow Of War, Resident Evil 7 etc support this service. If you already have a PC to game and need a secondary living room device for your family to play games on, Xbox One S might be a great deal.
Should you buy the expensive and powerful variants?
It really depends on what you need. If you simply want to game and don’t really care about the FPS and resolution, go for base PS4 Slim or Xbox One S. They are trustworthy and are way cheaper than their powerful brothers. PS4 Pro and Xbox One X can cost north of Rs 50k and isn’t really worth much if you don’t have a 4K TV. However, these powerful variants are future proof. Future games will always run and look better on these powerful consoles.
Two things you need to know if you are new to console gaming:
You’ll have to pay for multiplayer
All three consoles - Nintendo Switch, Sony PS4, and Xbox One S have paid multiplayer. You have to pay a monthly fee to be able to play online games on this platform. Even the free games like Fortnite requires you to buy the online service. This service can be subscribed via online payment or using a gift card which is widely available on online gift card shops. A year of Xbox Live Gold gift card will cost around NPR 6k-7k. The pricing of PSN Plus gift card is highly varied depending on the region selected in a console. The price ranges from NPR 2.5k - 7k per year. Sadly, I’m yet to find a single shop that sells Nintendo Online gift card in Nepal.
Games are expensive
Console games are quite expensive to buy, be it physical disc or digital copy. A newly released game will cost about 6k-7k. Older games are usually comparatively cheaper, retailing for about 3k. Used games will vary from being Rs 1.5k to being Rs 4.5k. If you are a gamer on a budget, buying used physical games is recommended. On the Xbox only side of thing, Game Pass is a great deal for gamers on a budget.