The one thing every parent should know before gifting game consoles

nintendo 64 kidThese kids were just moments from playing Nintendo 64. That’s not the case with modern game consoles.

It’s Christmas Day and you’re the nicest person: you splurged on an expensive video game console for your friend/relative/significant other. 

As you sip on a hot cup of whiskey-laced Christmas Coffee™, your friend/relative/significant other rips open the box and their face lights up with joy. A new game console! Everyone’s very excited.

Unfortunately, that excitement quickly fades as the setup process begins:

  1. First, there’s the joy of unpacking the box. Look at all this shiny new stuff!
  2. Then there’s the process of hooking up the game console to your TV. Less fun maybe, but a necessary step on the way to new video games!
  3. And finally, the console is hooked up. Time to play some new video games! Right? Right?! Nuh uh.

It’s 2015, so it’s actually time to update your system with the latest firmware.

Xbox One firmware updateMicrosoft

And then video games, right? Nope! You’ll need to install each game individually if you bought them on disc, and then they’ll almost certainly require some form of downloaded update. 

And then video games? Maybe? Please? Maybe, if you don’t have to update the software that runs your gamepad. On Xbox One, that process requires plugging in each controller individually and updating it. Seriously!

(NOTE: Follow Microsoft’s instructions right here if you want to update the gamepads.)

Long gone are the days of plug-and-play game consoles.

Nintendo Wii U firmware updateNintendo

Even Nintendo’s latest console, the Wii U, will require a massive update when you first hook it up — the result of dozens of major and minor upgrades the console has received through firmware refreshes.

The processes vary a bit from Xbox One to PlayStation 4 to Wii U, but they’re all essentially forcing you to do the same thing: plug in your system and download software from the internet that enables the game console to do basically anything, from play games to watch Netflix.

And that’s why you, intrepid gift giver, should go above and beyond and set up that console with new firmware before gifting it. 

This is blessedly simple across all three game consoles: simply plug the system in as if it were yours and follow setup instructions.

In case this is your first time, here are explicit instructions from each console maker directly:

You may have to create a temporary login, but they’re easily deletable; the person who gets the game console will thank you. Or maybe they won’t! But at very least you’ll feel pretty good when they can simply turn the system on and enjoy it for what it is — a game console — rather than what it isn’t — an expensive paperweight that needs an hour or more to talk to the internet before it can do anything.

Happy holidays!

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