3 Things to Ask Yourself Before Buying a Video Game Console

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These are interesting times for die-hard gamers. The marketplace is evolving, but there will still be plenty of new video game consoles purchased this holiday shopping season.

It used to be easy. There were two and sometimes three major consoles, and every few years gamers would upgrade to the latest model of their platform of choice. It's a different world these days. Whether you're in the market to buy a new system for yourself or as a gift, let's go over three questions that every potential buyer needs to ask.

1. Will It Be Cheaper If I Wait?

Sony (SNE) will cut the price of its PS4 system in Japan come Oct. 1, and while there's no indication that it will also slash prices in the U.S. and Europe, it's hard to fathom Sony's console selling for roughly $292 in Japan and higher everywhere else.

The PS4 has now been on the market for nearly two years, making a price cut ahead of the holiday shopping season a possibility. If Sony moves, it follows that Microsoft (MSFT) and perhaps even Nintendo will follow suit. With the holiday shopping season set to heat up in a few weeks, it wouldn't be a surprise if a price war breaks out, rewarding those who wait to make a purchase.

2. Do You Really Need a Console?

Die-hard gamers will swear by their platforms, but mainstream audiences might see things differently. Some folks are spending more time on consoles streaming online video than playing games, making it possible that a set-top-box media player would be the better and significantly cheaper option.

You can't play "Call of Duty" through your Roku box or Chromecast stick, but it could be the more cost-effective investment if you find yourself spending more time playing apps on your smartphone or tablet than you do with your console controller.

3. Are There Other Ways to Get Your Game On?

It's probably not a coincidence that the next generation of Apple TV is emphasizing enhanced video game apps. Folks usually associate iOS and Android apps with casual games along the lines of "FarmVille" or "Clash of Clans," but Apple TV and a new gamer edition of Amazon's (AMZN) Fire TV are out to raise the bar.

Apple TV and Fire TV make the most of high-def TVs to go beyond what you can do with your smartphone. They work with third-party controllers. The new Apple TV with its Siri remote and compatible controller offers everything from "Guitar Hero" to "Rayman." You're not just crushing candy anymore.

We're also getting to the point where virtual reality systems will start to get cheaper. Whether it's niche leader Oculus Rift or an accessory along the lines of Samsung Gear VR for Galaxy Note owners, there's a whole new gaming experience on the horizon. In short, non-console options are starting to grow more viable, making a multiyear investment in a new PS4, Xbox One, or Wii U a cloudier decision.

Right now, nothing compares to an Xbox One or PS4 gaming experience. The same may not be true in just a couple of years.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns and recommends Amazon.com. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. Check out our free report on one great stock to buy for 2015 and beyond.
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