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Best game console for 2020: PS4 vs. Xbox One vs. Switch

"Jacob Audet" (2020-08-02)

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The next generation of console gaming arrives at the end of this year, when the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X hit stores. Expect them to be the classic impossible-to-get holiday gift, arriving in small quantities and marked up by online resellers. 

As exciting as those consoles look, however, the current gaming landscape is arguably stronger than ever. The Switch, which debuted in March 2017, is Nintendo's biggest hit since the Wii, with its unique ability to let you play games on your TV or on the go. And anyone who buys games for the PS4 or Xbox One can be secure in knowing they'll work on the PS5 or Xbox Series X (respectively) going forward.

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Make no mistake, you don't need a dedicated console for gaming these days. PCs are the best way to enjoy games with all the graphical bells and whistles turned on (at least for gamers with deeper pockets and the patience to tweak settings and optimize drivers). And "gaming as a service" is already available in the form of Apple Arcade, as well as game streaming services like Microsoft's Project xCloud and Google's Stadia -- expect those options to increase in a future where 5G and superfast broadband are the norm. 

Read more: Best gaming PCs for 2020

But if you're homebound because of COVID-19 and looking for a less passive distraction than bingeing endless hours of TV shows, dropping $200 to $300 on a plug-and-play game console has its appeal. We've updated and streamlined our recommendations for the current marketplace in mid-2020 below, focusing on the big three platforms -- Switch, PS4 and Xbox One -- along with some affordable retro gaming options, too. 

Just note one important caveat: Demand for all three has spiked to unprecedented levels because of the coronavirus pandemic, so these remain harder to buy than at any point since they first launched. Don't be afraid to opt for used or refurbished models, and don't pay any prices that are exorbitantly marked up beyond list price.

Top-notch gaming on TV or on the go

Nintendo Switch

Óscar Gutiérrez/CNET



Dec 2019

The Switch lacks the flashy visuals and many of the triple-A "hard-core gamer" titles (Red Dead Redemption 2, the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077) that you'll find on the Xbox One and PS4. But you'll be too busy playing a long list of exclusive Nintendo franchises like Zelda, Mario and Animal Crossing to care. Unlike rival consoles, it can also hot-swap between playing on your TV and gaming on the go -- just pop it in or out of the included charging cradle. So, while you're unlikely to take ia Switch on a plane in the age of COVID-19, you can move between rooms when other family members need the TV without skipping a beat. 

Yes, plenty of great old-school NES and SNES games are here, as are vast numbers of kid-friendly titles like Pokemon and Minecraft -- but the Switch has more M-rated games like Wolfenstein II and The Witcher 3 than all previous Nintendo platforms. (Yes, Fortnite is here as well.) The only problem? The Switch has been nearly impossible to buy for months, which is why many people have been opting for the Switch Lite instead (see below).

See complete Switch coverage at GameSpot.

$390 at Amazon

$300 at Best Buy

$300 at Adorama

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Excellent exclusive games

Sony PlayStation 4

Aloysius Low/CNET

The PlayStation 4 has trounced the Xbox One in the sales charts since both debuted back in November 2013, and with good reason: The PS4 started off at a lower price, and was laser-focused on producing a great gaming experience, with an impressive list of exclusive franchises like , and