Penny Pinching with Consoles 101:

Lesson 1: Console online memberships

I wanted to start off this series with an intro to the most basic way to save money on console games, free games and discounts through memberships.  Both the Playstation 4 and Xbox One offer yearly memberships (in both monthly and yearly flavors) that will allow you to play your games online.

Now if you’re new to consoles, you’re probably wondering why you would need to pay extra money just to play your games online.  Well… besides the addition of new features, most of your money here goes towards to the hardware and services that allow your online games to work… online.  Both Microsoft and Sony have realized that the idea of paying for memberships supporting hardware and services you can’t see isn’t very appealing. So they both decided to add some extra value.  Here’s how things work.

Xbox One/360 – Games with Gold

  • Microsoft’s online membership is Xbox Live Gold, they have a variant called Xbox Live Silver, but it doesn’t really get you anything
  •  If you subscribe to Xbox Live Gold (59.99/year or 9.99/month) you’ll get 4 free games per month.
    • The free games are distributed as:
      • 2 Xbox One games
      • 2 Xbox 360 games
    • As the Xbox One supports certain Xbox 360 games through backwards compatibility, Xbox One owners can play all 4 free games each month

 

Playstation 3/4/Vita – Playstation Plus

  • Sony’s online membership is Playstation Plus.  It’s a bit different in that you only need it to play games online on Playstation 4.  Playstation 3 and Vita owners can play games online without Playstation Plus
  • If you subscribe to Playstation Plus (49.99/year or 9.99/month) you’ll get 6 free games per month
    • The free games are distributed as:
      • 2 Playstation 4 games
      • 2 Playstation 3 games
      • 2 Playstation Vita games
    • As the three current Playstation consoles don’t share games.  Your 2 Playstation games are locked to the console that they are listed for.
      • That being said, there’s a small loophole to the above statement. Sony has a “cross-buy” feature that they allow developers to use. This feature works as follows:
        • If Developer X makes a game Y for both Playstation 4 and Playstation 3, the title would normally be listed as two separate games.
        • With “cross-buy”, Developer X can give you both versions of game Y for the price of buying just one version
      • So… If a Playstation 3 game supports cross-buy with the Playstation 4 version, your Playstation Plus copy of that game will give you the Playstation 4 version as well.

 

In addition to all of the free game benefits mentioned above, both Xbox Live Gold and Playstation Plus offer exclusive discounts for subscribers. These discounts vary by day/week/month but it’s a great way to buy new games at a discount when you’re tired of playing what you got for free.

So… That’s a lot of information!  Which is why this is lesson one of many, but I hope you enjoyed the read and possibly learned something! If you have any questions or comments, leave them below!

  • Burdmayn out *flapping noises*

 

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Playstation Vita Hands-on

In the past two days I have had two separate opportunities to play the PSVita. My first chance was at Best Buy and the conditions weren’t exactly ideal so I wasn’t blown away. Today I had my second chance at a local Gamestop and boy did my opinion change. So without further ado, let’s get talking about the Vita.

The very first thing I took note of was the build of the system. Almost the entire body is made out of glossy plastic but the Vita still manages to look and feel like a high quality gaming machine.  Upon picking the system up, I was amazed at how light and easy to hold it really was, this is most likely due to the plastic body and indented rubber grips on the back of the console.

My first instinct was to try out the buttons and thumbsticks and I was very impressed. Both the D-pad and face buttons are a little on the small side, but they’re very responsive and have a satisfying click to them upon being depressed.  The thumbsticks look and feel just like the ones most people have grown accustomed to on modern day home console controllers.  They actually rotate around like a joystick instead of being a sliding pad like on the PSP. This leads to very satisfying control, though they aren’t as long as a normal joystick which takes a little bit to get used to.  The left and right triggers felt softer than the face buttons upon depression but were still very responsive.

The OLED screen on the Vita shines with absolute brilliance. Colors really pop and the games look absolutely stunning in person, you won’t come away unimpressed.  The front screen and back panel on the system also serve as touch screens, and they both felt just as responsive as a high quality smartphone. This is a very good thing, seeing as the front screen is used as a means of menu navigation for just about everything.  Games make use of the touch screen as well as other features, but I’ll talk about those in a different article once I’ve had more time with the system.

I spent about 5 minutes apiece with the demos for Uncharted, Wipeout 2048, and Gravity Daze.  Each game looked absolutely breathtaking, they were almost on par with Playstation 3 games in terms of graphics and overall quality.  They each made use of features like the front and back touch panels and accelerometer,  and they did so very well.  That being said,  none of these extra features felt like they added enough to the gameplay to use them more than a few times.

So while I was left with a strong impression of the system overall, i do have a few things I’d like to nitpick.

The glossy plastic used for the body of the system looks great, but it is an absolute fingerprint magnet.
The right thumbstick feels like it’s a little too close to the bottom most face button, especially if you have big thumbs.
The game demos I played seemed to take a long time to load (the store manager informed me that they’re played off the memory card, which might be the cause of the load times)

Despite these few nitpicks, I was absolutely blown away by the Vita. It left such a strong impression on me that I switched my preorder to the First Edition bundle which comes out a week early. If you want to try it for yourself, most Best Buy and Gamestop locations have demo systems available for you to play.

I didn’t get a chance to try out every aspect of the Vitq, but I’ll be doing some in-depth articles (including an unboxing video) once I have my own system in a little over a week.   Before then, I’ll be working on a buyer’s guide for the Vita which should be up within the next few days.

Thanks for reading!