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If you are planning to invest in your first family game system, an older console may be a real treat for the kids as well as your budget.
Currently, Sony’s PlayStation 4, Microsoft’s Xbox One, and Nintendo’s Wii U are the new generation of consoles, each costing between about $200 to $500 for the console; accessories are extra. New games average about $60 a piece, and the selection of games can be limited, especially for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
Later model versions, on the other hand, can be purchased for a fraction of the cost. A pre-owned or refurbished Xbox 360 might cost $130, and come with several games and controllers, depending on where you purchase it. You can occasionally find an older generation Wii with games and controllers for less than $80 on eBay or Craigslist.
If your children are teenagers, chances are they’ll know what they’re missing if you decide on an older console. The new consoles are designed for the most popular games and interactive play is common with the high school crowd, so a used game system might be a disappointment.
However, if your family is young and you’re just beginning to explore the world of video gaming, it’s a great time to buy a used game system. Understanding the following information when choosing a system will help.
Check out the titles. Certain games and characters are proprietary to different systems. For instance, Mario Brothers games are designed for the Wii and the Playstation, but are not available on the Xbox. So check the labeling.
Comparison shop. You can find deals on used consoles at retail outlets like Game Stop and at online auction sites like eBay. Some deals even include extras like games and controllers. Teens sell their used systems on Craigslist. Make sure to check auction site reviews of sellers before buying and don’t forget to consider shipping costs. If buying a system from someone locally, agree to meet in a public place and ask questions of the seller, such as how heavily the system was used, whether game controllers work, and if all the parts are available.
Take a test drive. Not sure which system you like best? Ask other families what works for them, and if possible, test-drive the systems at your friend’s home. Ask about parental control settings, family timers, and game play quality. The best reviewer will often be a fellow parent (or teen).
Do your homework. There is more than just one version of the Xbox 360 — including the Core, Arcade, Pro, and Elite models — each with its own variations. The Wii and PlayStation also offer several versions. If your kids are wanting to play games online (popular once they hit middle school), save games, and more, you’ll need to understand what you are buying.