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Gifting a console or games this year? Here’s what you need to know before wrapping them up

Seriously, no one wants to spend Christmas day downloading games and updating consoles.

holiday consoles
Image: KnowTechie

The next-generation of consoles is almost here, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad time to gift the video game consoles that are available today. The prices for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One X, and Nintendo Switch have never been better, with killer bundles and most importantly – lots of stock.

The thing is, you need to remember that modern consoles are closer to PCs than ever before. You can’t just take them out of the box and start playing immediately, as you could with the cartridge-based consoles you might have grown up with. That means you should update them to the latest version of the console operating system, firmware, controller firmware, and if there are any games in the box – install and update those too.

You’ll want to start this process in plenty of time, especially if you only have the hours that your little ones are sleeping to accomplish this. Console updates alone can take overnight, depending on your internet speed, and that’s without factoring the time to download and patch any games.

If you’re gifting a console or games this year, here’s what you need to do before wrapping them up

downloading updates on consoles

Image: Kevin Raposo / KnowTechie

Nobody wants to spend Christmas Day staring at the “Updating” screen. I mean nobody, not your lucky gift recipient, not you, and certainly not your extended family, who would rather be watching reruns of Die Hard or Home Alone than stare at the PlayStation’s sluggish update screen.

That means some work for you ahead of time, at a time when your internet isn’t being saturated by streaming video and other tasks.

Here’s what to do if you are gifting a console

Step 1: Okay, this one is kinda optional but it’s a nice touch. What’s the first thing your giftee is going to notice once they unwrap their new snazzy console? If you guessed “complain that it looks like somebody already opened it,” give yourself a gold star. Then head on over to Amazon, to order some replacement security seal stickers to make that box look factory new again.

Step 2: Open the console box carefully, and that includes carefully slitting the existing security sticker with a sharp knife. Don’t worry too much if you can’t peel the two halves off afterward, you can just put the replacement sticker over them and hopefully it won’t be noticed in the excitement.

Step 3: Plug in the console as if you were the owner, and follow all instructions to update to the latest operating system. We’d recommend using an Ethernet cable for this step, as it’ll get the fastest downloads, but it’s also a good idea to put the WiFi network details in as well, so your recipient doesn’t have to set that up after unwrapping.

If you’re unfamiliar with the console you just bought, here are instructions from all three major manufacturers to update:

You’ll have to create a temporary login, but you can delete these afterward, and then the person you’re gifting the console to won’t have to spend upwards of an hour letting their shiny new console updated. You’ll also feel pretty good that you did it ahead of time, before the millions of other people updating their consoles for the first time on that day.

Also, make sure to charge the controllers. The DS4 with the PlayStation uses a microUSB to charge, Xbox One controllers just need AA batteries unless you buy the Charge n Play accessory, and the Switch controllers charge wirelessly when they’re attached to the main console.

Now that the console and accessories are updated, what about games?

man playing games on computer

Image: Unsplash

Well, that depends. If the console came with digital downloads, you’ll need the account details of the recipient to download them, as you wouldn’t want to attach them to another account. If you don’t feel comfortable asking, or if this is their first console from that manufacturer, it’s better to leave this unclaimed so they can install them once they decide on a username.

If the console comes with Blu-ray based games, you can go and install those ahead of time so they can play something while the digital ones download. Just stick them in the drive and let it transfer data onto the hard drive, and start any updates to the game over the internet. That could take hours, so leave the console plugged in and connected to the internet.

What do you think? Gifting a console this year? Plan on taking this advice? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Maker, meme-r and unabashed geek. Hardware guy here at KnowTechie, if it runs on electricity (or even if it doesn't) I probably have one around here somewhere. My hobbies include photography, animation and hoarding Reddit gold.

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