The best kids games for Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch are fairly varied. The three consoles all offer plenty of different games and experiences, so whether your child enjoys creating masterpieces or, well, destroying stuff in a temper, there’s something here for them.
Honestly, there are dozens of great options but we’ve narrowed things down to nine of the best and broadest picks out there. Some are exclusive to one system but we’ve tried to pick out games that are widely available. The important thing here is that these aren’t just the best titles for kids, they’re also very good games in their own right. We won’t blame you if you find yourself sneaking a go at all of these while the little (or not-so-little) ones are in bed.
Featuring games from a variety of different genres, you’ll be impressed by how far kids’ games have come and how much all the family can have experiencing them. Let’s take a look at the best kids games for Xbox, PlayStation and Switch.
Playable on: Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch
It might feel like Minecraft gets a mention everywhere but it’s for good reason. The game is a phenomenon, bordering on being the title for everyone. Novices can play around with its mechanics and enjoy having a virtual Lego set to manipulate, while more experienced players can build huge metropolises over dozens of hours. For kids, it gives them a chance to let their imaginations run wild in a safe environment.
For the little ones, they get to create something fun in creative mode as the older kids are able to tackle survival mode and see how long they can last up against various threats. Parents can be reassured that Minecraft is available on pretty much every format imaginable so it’s easy to track down.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
Playable on: PlayStation 5
For older kids who’ve grown up watching their parents playing third-person shooters and now fancy a slice of the action themselves, Ratchet & Clank: A Rift Apart is a perfect entry title. Challenging? To a point. Rewarding? Like you wouldn’t believe.
A direct sequel to 2013’s Into the Nexus, it sees the duo renew hostilities with Doctor Nefarious, whose portal-hopping antics leave the universe on such a knife-edge that only Ratchet and Clank can save the day. Scooting between dimensions and employing a vast array of weaponry, it’s perfect family fodder.
When we hailed the game as a ‘Pixar movie come to life’ we weren’t being glib. A PS5 exclusive, 4k graphics, smooth animation and great writing combine to near-cinematic effect, bringing the characters to life in as much glorious detail as the giant colour-soaked worlds they inhabit.
Playable on: Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch
Combine football with vehicles and you get Rocket League. Sounds quirky but it’s a lot of fun. Eight players between two teams have to try and score goals by using their vehicles to hit a ball into the net. It’s possible to play in single-player but its strengths lie in multi-player with cross-platform play, meaning your kids won’t have to worry if their mates have a different console to them.
It’s possible to build up some impressive skills in Rocket League as practice certainly makes perfect, ensuring your child (and possibly you) will keep coming back for more. Matches are only usually five minutes long so it’s ideal for a homework break and new modes and vehicles mean there’s always something to do.
Playable on: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
If your child somehow hasn’t played Fortnite yet, well, they’re going to at some point. The Battle Royale game to beat all Battle Royale games, players have the choice of ‘last man standing’ among 100 players, the ability to create worlds, or to work together to fend off zombie-like threats. It’s aimed at older kids, of course, and its constant flurry of cosmetic skins probably means you’ll need to keep an eye on your child and your credit card, but there’s no denying that Fortnite is something special.
Simply put, it’s a lot of fun and it can teach people a lot about teamwork skills. A true cultural phenomenon, it’s available on all the major formats and it’s free to play. Just keep an eye out for any microtransactions. It can get expensive when you have skin(s) in the game.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Playable on: Nintendo Switch
The family game to end all family games, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe may cause some arguments but they’ll be short-lived. Well balanced so that no one ever commands too much of a lead, it’s good for every age group with an easy-to-learn control system that means even the youngest of kids can figure out how to make Mario go faster.
Not that Mario is your only option, mind, as there are plenty of popular characters from Nintendo games to select from. It’s easily one of the best Nintendo Switch games out there let alone the best one for kids. Enjoy learning how to drift most effectively and also working on your anti-gravity driving as you negotiate some delightfully quirky landscapes.
Super Mario Odyssey
Playable on: Nintendo Switch
A great game to play co-operatively when introducing your child to platformers, Super Mario Odyssey encourages exploration and experimentation thanks to Mario being able to control other characters via the use of Cappy, his sentient hat. It’s wonderfully charming like pretty much all Mario games (and honestly, you can’t really go wrong with any of them) and provokes memories of Super Mario 64 thanks to its open-world approach.
The beauty here is that you can complete the game relatively easily through the usual methods but players can also return to it to collect all the Power Moons, extending its lifespan significantly. Highlights include being able to control a Tyrannosaurus Rex and a tank, too. You and your kids will love how varied it is.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Playable on: Nintendo Switch
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a wonderfully calming experience. Simply put, you live in a world full of friendly animals, piecing together your island however you want it to look while forming a community with the cute animals around you. There’s a mortgage to pay, annoyingly, but you do this by collecting bugs and fish, amongst other things, so it doesn’t exactly feel like real life.
There’s a lot of creativity to Animal Crossing: New Horizons so it’s great for kids to explore in a safe environment and enjoy some imaginative play on the small screen. Just bear in mind it’s tricky to share an island so you may need a few copies if you have more than one child keen to play and you don’t want any arguments.
Forza Horizon 4
Playable on: Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Offering a fictional representation of Great Britain, Forza Horizon 4 is a blast for speed freaks. Players can race around Edinburgh, the Lake District, and various other parts of the country, all in glorious style thanks to being able to acquire hundreds of different cars. Cars range from the most basic examples to the Bugatti Veyron or even Lego versions of supercars so kids who love all things with wheels will adore this game.
Regardless of how much you love cars, there’s a real sense of freedom to Forza Horizon 4 as it’s an open-world game. You can simply drive around and take in the world rather than feel restricted to following set race routes. Features like a dynamic weather system and a regular stream of unlocks mean you and your kids will keep coming back for more with a treasure hunting campaign a particular highlight.
Sackboy: A Big Adventure
Playable on: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5
Normally part of the LittleBigPlanet series, Sackboy has his own adventure now in the form of the appropriately titled Sackboy: A Big Adventure. It’s a fun 3D platforming game where Sackboy has plenty of moves at his disposal including the ability to roll around, nose dive, and flutter jump. It’s possible to chain together some of these moves which is immensely satisfying and fun.
New powerups can also be acquired including a grappling hook and the ability to hover in the air. While it’s not quite as beguiling as anything featuring Mario, it’s probably the closest you can get on a PlayStation console.
Playable on: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch
If your child has an entrepreneurial spirit, they’ll love Stardew Valley. It has players taking over a dilapidated farm with an open-ended approach where you can choose which crops to grow, raise livestock or decide what goods to craft. Spoiler alert: you’ll end up doing a little bit of everything. It’s even possible to socialise with other townspeople, and marry them, if you’ve no current romantic attachments.
Stardew Valley is a game you can lose hundreds of hours to, but it’s also quite educational, giving children a lot of freedom and the chance to learn a bit about business practices in a harmless and non-cynical way. Much like Minecraft, you and your child will end up feeling proud about what you’ve created. It’s a good feeling.