Video Game Buying Guide for Black Friday 2009

Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3

If you read our earlier article on the Hot Holiday Toys for 2009, you probably noticed that we didn't mention any video games. With all the gaming choices these days, covering only the basics deserves a guide of its own. We'll start out with basic descriptions of each of the three big consoles and two hand-held systems out right now, and then revisit each one to list the best deals we've found on them this year.

Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3
Of the three modern generation consoles out right now, the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360 are pretty similar in terms of power and catalog of current games. They're both more traditional consoles, aimed at older and mature audiences with fewer family and casual-oriented games. The following is a brief, basic list of what distinguishes them:


Xbox 360 Games (from left): Forza Motorsport 3, Gears of War 2 and Braid
Microsoft Xbox 360
  • There are two versions of the Xbox 360:
    • The Xbox 360 Arcade
      • Retails for $199.99
      • Does not come with a hard-drive and only has 512MB (0.5GB) of internal memory
      • Is not backwards compatibile with original Xbox games

    • The Xbox 360 Elite
      • Retails for $299.99
      • Comes with a 120GB hard-drive
      • Is backwards compatibile with some original Xbox games
  • Popular, console-exclusive games include the Halo, Forza Motorsport and Gears of War series
    A complete list of all Xbox 360 exclusive games is available here
  • Generally lower cost than equivalent PS3 package by about $50
  • Does not play Blu-Ray discs


PlayStation 3 Games (from left): Gran Turismo 5, Metal Gear Solid 4 and Final Fantasy 13
Sony PlayStation 3
  • There are multiple versions of the PS3, the only difference between them is the size of their included hard-drive
  • Popular, exclusive games include the Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy and Gran Turismo series
    A complete list of all PlayStation 3 exclusive games is available here
  • Generally more expensive than equivalent 360 packages
  • Plays Blu-Ray discs
  • All models backwards compatible with original Playstation games, some models with Playstation 2 games (20 GB, 60 GB, and CECHE 80 GB versions)

You'll notice that there are different models or versions of each of these consoles, with different amounts of storage capacity and some other features added or removed. In general, as long as the console has some amount of storage included, any model should be fine for most gamers.

All PlayStation 3 models come with a built-in hard-drive. The Xbox 360 Arcade costs $100 less than the Elite version, however due to its lack of a hard-drive and minimal internal storage, it is not necessarily meant for a user who plans on downloading and playing more than a couple of online Xbox Live Arcade games (as these games must be downloaded to the console and are rather large in size).

The cost of adding a hard-drive to an Xbox 360 Arcade varies from $50 for 20GB to $135 for 120GB. Because of the relatively high cost of adding a hard-drive, we strongly recommend spending the initial $100 and purchasing the Xbox 360 Elite model.

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Next Page - Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DSi and Sony PSP

November 22, 2009

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