Setting Up the Gaming Console You’re Giving for the Holidays

Video game consoles like the Nintendo Switch, Sony PlayStation 5 and Microsoft Xbox Series X or S are one of the most popular—and best—gifts. However, if you haven’t ever used one yourself, you might be surprised by the amount of time required to set them up. If you want the recipient of your gift to be able to tear off the wrapping paper and start gaming right away, there are a few steps you should take before you gift a game console.

Why do I need to set up a game console before I gift it?

Modern gaming consoles are basically computers. And like computers, they get regular updates to fix small bugs and security holes as well as add new features. Between the time a console is manufactured and the time you buy it, there has almost certainly been a firmware update that needs to be installed before anyone can play online.

Depending on your internet connection, these updates can take up to an hour or so to download and install—which isn’t any fun to sit through. (If you don’t have fiber yet, now might be a good time to upgrade.) Worse, if there are lots of people trying to update consoles at once—like, say, over Christmas—then the servers can crash and stop it from happening.

By setting up a games console before you gift it, you ensure the recipient can plug it in and start playing immediately—a present unto itself.

How to set up a video games console

Whether you’re setting up a Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X or S, the process is much the same.

  • Carefully remove the console from its box. You’ll probably want to repackage it after, so try not to tear any of the cardboard. Use a craft knife to cut any tape.
  • Plug the console’s power cable in and connect it to your TV using the included HDMI cable. (Note: The Switch Lite is a handheld console, so doesn’t connect to a TV.)
  • If you want the fastest internet speeds, connect the console to your router using an Ethernet cable.
  • Power the console on.
  • Work through the setup process. Both the PlayStation 5 and latest Xbox models have iOS and Android apps that make following along easier, as you don’t have to enter text using a controller. If you run into any issues, consult the console manual.
  • Enter your Wi-Fi password when prompted.
  • Agree to any user agreements and download the latest firmware update. There should be no need to create or log in to a user account. (You can skip it if you’re prompted to.)
  • Once the firmware update has completed, power off the console and repack it in the box.

Now the games console should be ready for your recipient to open and enjoy. But let’s talk about a few other things to know if you’re gifting someone a console.

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How to add parental controls to a console

The Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5 and newest Xboxes all have parental control options, so you can stop your children from playing certain games and keep an eye on how much time they’re spending gaming.

You’ll need to create your own account on the console and then follow the necessary setup steps. Here’s how to do it for:

Both Nintendo and Microsoft have an app, so you can control the parental settings from your smartphone.

Should I give physical or digital games?

Unless you’re gifting someone a digital-only console, like the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition or Xbox Series S, physical game discs still have a few advantages:

  • Physical games are quicker to start playing right away. You’ll only need to download updates rather than a full game.
  • If they’re unopened, you can return them if they’re not the right choice.
  • Everyone likes having more presents to open.

If you’re going to give digital games from the PlayStation Store, Microsoft Store or Nintendo eShop, make sure you have a fast enough internet connection. Modern video games are typically huge files, so if you don’t have fiber or a fast cable connection, they can take hours to download—and you might even hit a data cap!

Can I install games before gifting a console?

You can, but you could blow the surprise if the recipient already has an account on the previous generation console, as you’ll need to log in to that account to purchase new games. And if you know their account details and login, they’ll get an email notification giving the surprise away. If this is their first games console from the manufacturer, your surprise is safe.

If you also have an account on the console, you can install games using it. Otherwise, the best thing to do is get physical disc-based games—and a fast internet connection, so any necessary updates download in moments.

Is there anything else I need when I gift a game console?

Other than a great internet connection, so they can play online without any issues, there are really only two things your recipient will need to start gaming with their new console:

With all of this done, the games console should be ready to give to the lucky recipient. If you haven’t tracked one down yet, here’s how.

Make sure your gamer has the gift of a Frontier Fiber connection

Your internet connection can make all the difference. Frontier Fiber—now with speeds up to 2 Gig—is your not-so-hidden advantage. Frontier Fiber was rated #1 internet service provider for online gaming in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report. Ready, set, Frontier Fiber! Check here to see when it’s available at your address.

Product features and availability may have changed and are subject to change.

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