Christmas is just days away, and so is the look of glee on the faces of our loved ones as they unwrap brand-spanking-new Xbox One X consoles, PlayStation 4 systems, and Nintendo Switch handhelds. Can you guess what else is just days away? Server overloads.
That 24-hour stretch from Christmas Eve to Christmas Day is when the Western world unboxes more game consoles than any other time. Sadly, the world of yesteryear is gone. Consoles are not self-contained, feature-complete hardware in the box. They require software updates, so that also means more systems connecting and more gamers trying to download updates and games for their new systems.
By taking a little while after junior's in bed or sending mom to the store for some last-minute ingredients and getting that console update done, you're saving your gamer a headache and a heartache on Christmas morning.
Depending on the console, the update can be a couple megs or a couple gigs, so give ample time. Go through the basic setup for the system and the updates should start all on their own.
Games Need Downloading, Too
If you've picked up one of the many console bundles available this fall, you may want to see if that's software or hardware. There's a good chance the included game is a download code. It should say so on the box somewhere in the fine print. If that's the case and you have a younger gamer whose account you control, you can get the download running for them ahead of time.
This is a little tougher if you're buying for a teenager or adult who has their own account and who has notifications setup. They might just have to suffer, otherwise they might see the game pop up in their library or get a notification that the download is complete. But hey, at least you don't have to run around town trying to find a memory unit the day after Christmas like we did back in the days of the PlayStation, Dreamcast, and GameCube systems.
Once you run the update, carefully re-package the system like you found it, wrap it up, and no one will be the wiser.
What about other gadgets?
Other gadgets aren't typically as susceptible to this as game consoles, which are downloading the exact same updates from the exact same sites. Computers are usually downloading updates from a variety of sites, while things like phones and tablets are often contacting carriers. But even then, if you're sure you picked up the right version of the iPhone in the right color, it might not hurt to pop the thing out of the box and set it up. But don't peel off the shipping plastic that covers the screen. That's the best part.
Whatever the gadget, this kind of stuff, if done carefully, can save some time and pain and make sure people are gaming instead of grumbling on December 25.