Getting started with console gaming in Canada
By: Vincent Tran
Published on: August 22nd, 2023
When getting started with gaming it may be hard to know where you can begin. There are many different consoles and places where you can play video games, which may cause some confusion.
There is also the fact that there are thousands of video games out there for you to buy and invest time into, therefore it may be difficult to understand how you even start gaming.
To avoid confusion and help guide you on your path, this article will outline some of the basics you need to know to begin your journey with console gaming and explore the vast world of video games.
Where is everyone playing?
Most gamers and other Canadians are likely playing on the most recently released consoles: the Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X and S, and the PlayStation 5.
Each console comes with its own perks and incentives, so it’s totally up to you to decide which one appeals to you the most or suits your current situation the best.
How much does each console cost?
*Console prices from Best Buy Canada as of July 2023
The Nintendo Switch comes in three variations with different price points:
- Original model: $399.99
- OLED model: $449.99
- Nintendo Switch Lite: $259.99
The Nintendo Switch is a unique console because it can act as both a handheld gaming device and also one that you can hook up to a TV or monitor. The Nintendo Switch Lite, the cheapest variation, is the only one that is solely a handheld device and can’t be connected to a TV or monitor.
While the original model and OLED model share many similarities, there are some differences that justify the OLED model’s higher price. The main difference is the display on the OLED model provides better colours, picture quality, and overall performance in comparison to the original model.
The Xbox Series console comes in two variations:
- Xbox Series X: $599.99
- Xbox Series S: $379.99
The Xbox Series X comes with one terabyte of storage for all your games. The Xbox Series X can run the latest games at a high-performance level and is the optimal experience for Xbox gamers. The Xbox Series S is the cheaper option and comes with 512 gigabytes of storage. The Series S console is a less powerful, digital-only console, whereas the Series X can run physical game discs at high resolution.
The PlayStation 5 also has two different variations:
- PlayStation 5 disc console: $649.99
- PlayStation 5 digital console: $599.99
Both PlayStation 5 console variations have the same specifications and both can run the same games at the same exact output, the only difference being the more expensive version can play physical games, while the digital console doesn’t have a disc drive and can only play digital games.
The Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series consoles, and PlayStation 5 all include cables and at least one controller for you to begin playing with your initial purchase, but also offer other accessories to add or enhance your gaming experience.
The Nintendo Switch offers users many different accessories to allow for a different experience while playing or for more players with one console. These accessories include:
- Joy-Con controller: $99.99
- Nintendo Switch Pro controller: $89.99
- Joy-Con charging dock: $39.99
- Nintendo Switch Dock: $74.99 or $87.49 for OLED model
The Nintendo Switch allows customers to purchase Joy-Con controllers which can be used for one person with both or can be used by two people, as they are two separate controllers. The Nintendo Switch also comes with a Pro controller which looks more like a traditional video game console controller.
Xbox Series consoles
The Xbox Series consoles also offer multiple options for customers to invest into their console. These options include:
- Xbox wireless controller: From $74.99 upwards
- Xbox rechargeable battery: $29.99
- Xbox wireless headset: $129.99
Xbox offers their users many different controller colours and design schemes so you can fully customise your gaming experience on Xbox. They also offer a rechargeable battery for your controller so you don’t have to keep inserting batteries into the controller, as well as a headset for more immersion in your games.
The PlayStation 5 offers many different accessories to improve your experience with the console. These things include:
- DualSense controller: $89.99 (Midnight Black, White) or $94.99 (Cosmic Red, Galactic Purple, Starlight Blue, Nova Pink, Grey Camouflage)
- PlayStation 5 console covers: $69.99
- PlayStation 5 HD camera: $79.99
- PlayStation 5 DualSense wireless controller charging station: $39.99
- Pulse 3D wireless gaming headset: $129.99 (White, Black, Grey Camo)
With these accessories you can play with more people on the same console or customise the look of your console with the console covers. You can also enhance your gaming experience through the headset and camera that is offered.
Exclusive video games
A big part of the console gaming market are exclusive, first-party games. These are video games that are only available on a certain platform and gaming companies have these franchises exclusive to their consoles to draw in customers. If you would like to play some of these franchises, you will have to buy the console where it is available.
Nintendo is well-known for their cooperative, party-type games. Nintendo games are ones that you will likely enjoy playing with others, but they also have some high-quality single-player games as well. Nintendo game franchises include:
- Mario (includes Mario Kart, Mario Party, etc.)
- Super Smash Bros.
- The Legend of Zelda
- Animal Crossing
- Nintendo Switch Sports (building off the popular Wii Sports)
Xbox also has their own exclusive franchises that are enjoyed by millions of users, much like the other consoles. Some Xbox franchises include:
- Gears of War
- Microsoft Flight Simulator
Like Nintendo, PlayStation is well-known for its exclusive franchises and many gamers buy a PlayStation console just so they can play these games. Some PlayStation exclusive franchises include:
- Marvel’s Spider-Man
- God of War
- Ratchet and Clank
- Ghost of Tsushima
- The Last of Us
- Gran Turismo
Third-party video games
Third-party video games are games developed for most or all consoles. This is the majority of the video game landscape with developers shipping games to multiple consoles for everyone to enjoy.
Most third-party video games are available on all consoles, the Nintendo Switch, Xbox, and PlayStation, however, the vast majority of third-party games are available on both Xbox and PlayStation, not always Nintendo. Some of the most popular third-party video game franchises include:
- Call of Duty
- Sports games (FIFA, Madden, NBA 2K, NHL, UFC, etc.)
- Assassin’s Creed
- Grand Theft Auto
Online play and bundles
With console gaming you can not only enjoy offline, single-player adventures, but you can also connect online and play online multiplayer with other gamers across the world. However, to do so you will have to pay extra for certain services. These services come with online play, but also offer other perks to entice subscribers.
Nintendo offers users two options for online play: Nintendo Switch Online and Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack. Both offerings come with an individual deal which costs $24.99/year and $63.99/year, respectively, as well as a family membership which you can share with seven other people that costs $44.99/year and $99.99/year.
A basic Nintendo Switch Online subscription will grant you online play for Nintendo Switch games as well as access to classic games from old Nintendo consoles namely the Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and Game Boy among other perks.
A Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack membership grants subscribers all the benefits of the regular Nintendo Switch Online option while granting expansion packs to certain Nintendo Switch games and an expanded classic games library including games from the old Nintendo 64, Game Boy Advance, and SEGA Genesis consoles
Xbox offers console gamers two great options to get into gaming with their Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, priced at $12.99/month and $18.99/month, respectively.
Xbox Game Pass gives Xbox gamers access to online play, special discounts and deals, as well as thousands of new and classic games ready to be downloaded and played. Xbox Game Pass is also unique in the fact that they release certain games, mainly Xbox first party games, on the service the day they come out.
This means that a new game that comes out and is generally priced at $79.99 or $89.99 for a single purchase, is available on Xbox Game Pass if you’re subscribed to the service. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate also gives subscribers a great offer of paying $1 for the first month of their subscription before having to pay $18.99/month afterwards.
PlayStation offers its users PlayStation Plus which comes with three subscription tiers: PlayStation Plus Essential, PlayStation Plus Extra, and PlayStation Plus Premium. Here’s a rundown of each tier of PlayStation Plus:
- PlayStation Plus Essential
This option allows users to play online multiplayer with their games and also gives subscribers other perks such as special discounts, cloud storage, exclusive content, and monthly games. Every month, a few games are added to PlayStation Plus and subscribers are able to add them to their library at no extra cost and are able to keep them as long as they are subscribed to PlayStation Plus.
PlayStation Plus Essential offers three payment options priced at $11.99/month, $29.99/every three months, or $69.99/year.
- PlayStation Plus Extra
PlayStation Plus Extra has all the benefits of the Essential tier, however it gives users access to a large catalogue of hundreds of PlayStation 4 and 5 games. These games are available for you to download directly on your console and games will be added or removed on a monthly basis.
First-party, exclusive PlayStation games such as God of War, Ghost of Tsushima, and Uncharted are available as well as third-party franchises such as Assassin’s Creed, Final Fantasy, and Kingdom Hearts.
PlayStation Plus Extra will cost $17.99/month, $49.99/every three months, or $114.99/year.
- PlayStation Plus Premium
This is the most expensive option available, but also offers the most to subscribers. The Premium tier gives subscribers access to everything that the Essential and Extra tiers have, while also giving users a large library of classic PlayStation games from the PlayStation 1, PlayStation 2, and PlayStation Portable consoles.
You are also able to play games via cloud streaming, which means you can play certain games without downloading them if you have a good enough internet connection to do so. You can download most games available on PlayStation Plus Premium, except for the PlayStation 3 titles which are primarily available to play through cloud streaming.
Check out this website for the full game catalogue available for both the Extra and Premium tiers.
PlayStation Plus Premium costs $21.99/month, $59.99/every three months, or $139.99/year.