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5 hidden costs of game consoles

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(Credit: Associated Press/Nam Y. Huh)

You've scrimped and saved, skipping lunches and selling old games on eBay, and now, finally, you've got the $400 or $500 you need for a next-generation console.

But despite what the price tag might say, that's not quite enough. In fact, it's not even close.

Buying a console these days is just the beginning of an ongoing set of expenses. Ultimately, you may spend more than twice that on subscriptions, peripherals, and other items that seem superfluous when you first unbox a system, but become essential over time.

The problem is a universal one among today's game machines -- and prices vary from system to system -- but if you're planning on buying a new system, here are a few things you'll need to start saving up for.

Online subscription fees
Nintendo won't charge you for multiplayer gaming, but its offerings in that department are pretty slim. If you want to play online with your PS4 or Xbox One, though, it's going to cost you.

A one-year subscription to Xbox Live Gold runs $50 (which is certainly better than the one-month fee of $10). PS3 owners didn't have to worry about paying for multiplayer, but when you upgrade to a PS4, things change. A PlayStation Plus subscription is now required for online play, and it carries a $60 price tag.

Of course, both Xbox Live and PS Plus also give you access to free games each month (PS Plus is killing it this year), so there's at least some reward for this financial pain.

And if you're hoping to play some older games on your PS4 with the launch of the streaming PlayStation Now this summer, start saving for that as well. While Sony hasn't revealed the pricing structure for the service, an image spotted on Gaikai's Website earlier this month indicates streaming prices could range from $5 to $6 per title.

Extra controllers
Gaming is a social activity, and while those social features are increasingly geared for online play, nothing beats the joy of playing a game in the same room as a friend or family member.

If you're getting a console, you’ll only get one game controller in the box. Odds are you're likely going to need an extra one. That's going to run you $60 a pop.

Also, if you want to use your favorite headset with your Xbox One, that's going to require a headset adapter, which tacks another $30 onto the price.

Hard drives
No matter which new console system you get, you're likely going to run out of room on your hard drive thanks to mandatory installation policies and games that gobble up as much as 50 GB each. We here at Yahoo Games are already running Xbox Ones at about 70% capacity.

If you get an Xbox One, you're essentially stuck. The device doesn't support external hard drives at this time (Microsoft is “working on it”) and there's no replacing the internal 500 GB one without voiding your warranty. Get used to deleting games, for now, especially if you plan on buying a ton of software.

PS4 owners have it easier, in a sense, as they can swap out that system's 500 GB hard drive with something larger. Of course, that'll cost you. Doubling that capacity will run you anywhere from $68 to $130, depending on the drive you choose. If you want to quadruple your storage to 2 TB, be prepared to spend $200-$250 more.

Wii U owners get a bit of a break in that they can purchase an external hard drive and hook it up to their system. A 2 TB external drive can run for as little as $80.

Batteries
PS4 owners get a pass here. Sony was kind enough to make the DualShock 4 controllers rechargeable through the PS4 itself, meaning you don't have to worry about keeping a supply of AAs in stock. The Wii U Gamepad is similarly rechargable, but you'll need batteries for the Wii controller that's just as essential.

Xbox One owners? You're out of luck. You can invest in disposable batteries, but depending on how often you play, that can get expensive over the long run. Rechargeable batteries are the way to go. Sanyo's Eneloop get some of the highest marks from critics, and you can get four batteries and a charger for about $30.

Helpful hardware
In addition to the things you'll need to get a complete gaming experience from your console, there are several other items that, while not essential, will be hard to pass up.

If you want to enjoy the non-gaming entertainment features of any of the systems, you'll face subscription fees for services like Netflix, Amazon Prime or Hulu Plus. And you'll probably want to invest in either an Xbox Media Remote ($25) or a third-party PS4 BluRay remote ($20) to make navigating the menus easier.

Other possible expenses for PS4 owners? The PS4 Camera isn’t included with the system, but is essential for photo/video sharing as well as voice commands. It will run you $70 these days

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