Best console for a 13 year old boy (Xbox or PS3)

Published in Interesting

A friend of mine just asked me:

"Just wanted to ask you a question about gaming consoles. My son is turning 13 this week and I was thinking of getting him a gaming console. I just thought I'd get your recommendation on what you thought was best, xbox kinect or PS3? Also some are 4GB some are 500GB do I need all those GB?"

Xbox vs PS3 for a 13 year old boy:

The Xbox is cheaper to buy (depending on where you get it/specials) but has the downside that you have to pay for a "gold" subscription which allows you to (amongst other things):

  • Play online
  • Chat
  • Connect with Facebook
  • Get exclusive content and demos

The PS3 will allow you to play online for free, this can save a lot of money over time. There is also a subscription service for the PS3 call "Playstaion Plus" gives you:

  • Full game trials
  • Some free full version games
  • Special content
  • Discounts
  • Early access
  • Automatic content downloads and updates

So basically the Xbox cost less to buy, but costs more over time. As an Apple user, I prefer to pay a little more for a top quality device and then have lower ownership costs, that why I can't help but like the PS3 here.

The games:
Another thing to consider is the games. Many games are exclusive to one console, if you son specifically wants to play a certain game you may need to have the right console. This has helped propel the Xbox into a slight edge of the PS3 because although they both have a large game library of AAA games and arguable some of the best games are on the PS3, there are some "must have" exclusive games for the Xbox clinching the deal for some people.

Kinect vs Move:
The winner here is kinect, mainly because of the games that use it. In most cases a 13 year old boy will find plenty of fun times on either console moving as he plays. The move is better suited to shooting games where the player actually shoots a replica gun at the screen whereas the kinect "watches" the player movement and allows the freedom of not actually having to hold a controller. The move on the other hand has the reputation of being more accurate. Again the key things here are probably not actually the systems, but the games and cost of ownership and if you son is going to be playing first person shooters (and he will) then the motion control will be less of an issue.

Hard Disk size:
The hard disk on a console is used for two things: saving user data and spreading up games by writing them to the hard disk instead of using the DVD, this also makes it more convenient when you don't have to constantly swap DVDs. If the cost difference isn't too much, then a hard disk is well worth it. You can also use a USB thumb drive or external hard disk which tend to be much cheaper, so there's room to expand if you want the cheaper first purchase.

Personally I like the PS3. Better hardware, nicer interface and lower long term costs make it my choice. Just be sure your son doesn't badly want to play a game which is Xbox only.

The next generation:
Also important, as I write, the Xbox One and the Play Station 4 are almost out. These new consoles will bring the price of the older consoles down when they are released. The Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 will still be great for a 13 year old boy and you only need to consider the newer consoles for the cool factor that your teenage son will get by being an early adopter. You will have to way this up for yourself against the cost of buying the new console and not having the huge library of great games the older consoles have which you can buy second hand.

One more thing:
Oh, and one more thing. The iPad. I know you asked about a gaming console for a 13 year old right? Well, talk to him, he might be interested in an iPad. The amount of super high quality titles available (often with significant educational value) for the iPad is amazing. It can also send its signal to your TV (when you use an apple TV). But when there is something important for you to watch, he can play on the iPad without busting you chops for TV access. Personally, unless he is set on a "gaming console" I would chose the educational value and long term cost savings (the games and apps are CHEAP) of an iPad over a "real" console. Sure the AAA games are not as long and immersive of those on the consoles, but you also get a lot of functionality that a console doesn't have, plus with a user base far greater than Xbox and PS3, it's fast becoming top notch gaming system. Just check this page on when to buy an iPad first.

Summary: Xbox vs PS3 (vs iPad):
At the end of the day, I choose the PS3 over the Xbox even though the Xbox is perhaps the more popular console with more versatile motion controller and some must have titles (but the PS3 has these too). I would also make a case for an iPad. As a parent and gamer, I think every child should have an iPad. I feel strongly on this, and no, an Android tablet isn't good enough, especially if you are putting it in the hands of your child. Regarding the new consoles, the Playstation 4 looks like it has the edge in price and support from the Xbox One, but only time will tell.