Whether you spent your childhood blasting asteroids on your Atari or rescuing the princess with Mario, game systems have come a long way since we were kids. PS4 is one of the most popular systems available currently, and boasts titles that’ll please gamers young and old — however, for parents who haven’t picked up a controller in a few years, knowing which games are both enjoyable and appropriate for children can be tough. We put together a guide on choosing great PS4 games for your kids as well as a list of the best picks and what they’re all about, so read on to get in the game!

Our Top Picks

How to Pick The Best PS4 Games For Kids

1. Recommended Age

Whenever you’re choosing toys and games for your kids, it’s wise to take a look at the recommended age of a potential purchase. When purchasing video games, the reason for this is two fold.

  • Content Ratings: As we know, video games are no longer something that’s considered strictly a pastime for kids. Instead, there are games for people of all ages and interests, and some adults even play competitively in eSports. While that level of accessibility is great, it also means you’re likely to come across some titles that aren’t appropriate for children due to graphic violence, harsh language, or sexual content. Fortunately, ESRB ratings take the guesswork of what kids will encounter in games, giving parents an easy guideline for what’s appropriate.
  • Difficulty Level: Even though some games may not feature content that’s inappropriate for younger kids, the style of game play may be a bit too complex to be easily understood or enjoyed by younger children. This can lead to a title collecting dust while easier, more age-appropriate picks stay in frequent rotation.

2. Genre

Whether they involve jumping around and navigating levels, following a story, or prompting a player to build their own unique world, most video games fall into basic genres. Often, kids tend to have a favorite genre of game — some are more interested in music and rhythm games, others love creating castles and fighting monsters in Minecraft, and others yet would rather take a turn at a racing game. Here’s a quick and dirty guide to game genres that covers the kid-friendly basics:

  • Platform: Think Mario and Sonic — these fun games encourage kids to make their way through levels to a goal while avoiding a series of obstacles
  • RPG: Also called role playing games, these usually include heavy storytelling elements and include some strategy and turn-based combat; not all RPGs are kid-friendly, but many are
  • Building: Frequently based around resource allocation and management, these games prompt players to build structures, towns, and even creatures with items they collect
  • Music/Rhythm: Sometimes requiring additional peripherals like microphones, instrument-themed controllers or dance pads, these games encourage kids to use their sense of rhythm and dancing and singing abilities when following along with popular songs
  • Racing: Fairly self-explanatory, usually involving solo or group race scenarios as well as mini-games and head-to-head competition options

3. Subject Matter

Every child is different, and just as the subject of books, television shows, and movies makes a difference in their interest level, the subject matter of a game can affect how able it is to hold your child’s attention. A platform game about dinosaurs, for example, simply may not hold the same appeal as a superhero game to a child who idolizes heroes; his paleontological pal, however, might go gaga for gigantoraptors. Figuring out what a game is about is usually as easy as reading the case description, but if you’re still lost, reading a synopsis online can be helpful.

4. Difficulty Level

Playing video games can be a fun way to pass the time, but getting stuck on a level or mechanic that feels impossible to understand isn’t fun at all. This is especially true for younger kids, who may feel frustrated and left out by games they can’t master which older siblings seem to play easily. Although it’s hard to guess a game’s difficulty level without actually playing, titles from franchises like Pixar that thrive on kid-friendliness usually have mechanics that younger players can grow into without too much frustration.

5. Franchise

This one might seem a little bit confusing at first, but it’s an important part of making sure you’re choosing the game your child is looking for. Many popular games are part of a franchise, which means that they’re part of a related series created by the same company. Some franchises have fairly similar titles; as an example, Dragon Age, Dragon Quest, and Dragon’s Lair are three totally unrelated game franchises created by different companies that could easily be mistaken for one another when glancing at their names. If your child is a super-fan of one specific franchise, knowing its titles can help you buy the right game on your first try.

6. Number of Players

Playing PS4 can be a fun way for your kiddo to bond with friends and spend time with siblings, but if a game doesn’t make room for enough players, someone might be stuck feeling left out. It can he helpful to know how many players can be accommodated by a game before buying, as well as whether or not an online multiplayer mode exists for the game. At least one of the games on our list is a one-player game, so be sure to double-check the number of people that can play if you’re going for a crowd-pleaser.

The Winners

#1

Playstation Minecraft

Best Overall

Although the graphics of this stupendously popular world-building game are quite simplistic, the game’s open world design gives kids an opportunity to bring their imagination to life. Minecraft has been a cross-platform chart topper for several years, placing kids in a virtual sandbox in which they can use blocks to create shelter, defend their camp against monsters, create objects through crafting, and learn to navigate the world around them. It can help kids practice planning and critical thinking, and even the combat content is relatively tame compared to many cartoons. The game supports up to four players offline; an online multiplayer mode exists which supports up to seven players, but parents should note that this requires a PSN (PlayStation Network) subscription at an additional cost.

Recommended Age: 10+
Genre: Building
Subject Matter: World building, exploration, and combat
Difficulty Level: Low to Medium
Franchise: Minecraft
Number of Players: 1 – 7

#2

Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2

Upgrade Choice

Plants vs. Zombies continues to be one of the most popular family-friendly tower defense strategy games in the world — it’s spawned a variety of sequels, some of which are vastly different from the original game. Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 and its predecessor Garden Warfare are a bit more action packed, trading placid plant placement for a third-person shooter atmosphere that’s high energy and keeps kids on their toes. It’s best enjoyed in online multiplayer mode, which can accommodate two teams of up to twelve players each for an all out garden melee, but multiple co-op and solo friendly play modes make the title well rounded in all circumstances.

Recommended Age: 10+
Genre: Tower defense
Subject Matter: Using garden plants to defend against invading zombies
Difficulty Level: Medium
Franchise: Plants vs. Zombies / Popcap
Number of Players: 1 – 4, with online multiplayer accommodating two teams of 12

#3

LEGO Worlds

Best Budget Buy

For over a decade, the LEGO video game franchise has been a natural favorite for kids, personifying some of their favorite films and books with blocky LEGO characters and adding comical elements that are just right for their growing sense of humor. LEGO Worlds doesn’t rely on another franchise for content, instead giving kids some of the same open world elements as competitors like Minecraft and Terraria with the LEGO aesthetic they’ve come to love. They’ll be able to build shelters, vehicles, and even creatures with which to interact, bringing their own world to life with results that may defy their expectations. It’s a great game for solo play, but there’s also a co-op mode that accommodates one additional player in split screen mode — it’s available online and offline.

Recommended Age: 10+
Genre: Building
Subject Matter: World building and exploration
Difficulty Level: Low – Medium
Franchise: LEGO
Number of Players: 1 – 2

#4

Rayman Legends

Best Game For Family

A classic platform game series packed with magical and musical elements, Rayman Legends is back with a title that’s friendly for kids but fun for the whole family. Kids can test their skills through a variety of speed and skill-based challenges, and can even see how they measure up against other players via online leaderboards. The Rayman Rocks feature prompts them to follow the rhythm and music of a bass, drum, guitar, and more. Since mastering the timing is the key to winning, it’s a good game for helping kids find their rhythm – and having a good laugh at parents as they take a turn. They’ll be able to play co-op with up to four players, and the game continues seamlessly even if a player joins in or exits the game.

Recommended Age: 10+
Genre: Platform
Subject Matter: Musical adventure
Difficulty Level: Medium
Franchise: Rayman
Number of Players: 1 – 4

#5

Dragon Quest Builders

Best PS4 Game For Builders

The Dragon Quest franchise is one that some RPG-loving parents may have grown up with — it’s been around for a whopping 30+ years, and has spawned a multitude of games, anime, manga, and novelizations beloved by the series’ fanbase. One of their latest offerings, Dragon Quest Builders, is an ideal pick for younger players. While it hangs on to some of the combat elements familiar to the original series, it focuses largely on world-building and puzzle-solving as a means of progressing through the game’s story. It incorporates elements of role-playing and adventure games that are suitable for kids in terms of both content and ability, and boasts an expansive crafting system and massive world to explore. Though this is a fun solo game, parents should note that there’s no co-op mode available with this pick.

Recommended Age: 10+
Genre: Building/Adventure/RPG
Subject Matter: Medieval world-building adventure
Difficulty Level: Medium
Franchise: Dragon Quest
Number of Players: 1

#6

LEGO Harry Potter Collection

Best PS4 Game For Harry Potter Fanatics

Exploring the vast world of Harry Potter through books and films is a beloved pastime of fans, but a game that places players right into the center of the action engages them in a new, fun way. The LEGO Harry Potter Collection includes two previously released titles which span Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s 7 years at Hogwarts. They’ll be able to cast spells, make potions, solve puzzles, complete wizarding lessons, learn to duel, and have more magical fun solo or co-op in this role-playing adventure that’s packed with all their favorite characters and places as seen built in iconic LEGO blocks. Both titles have seen graphical improvements since their initial release, with more attention given to lighting and environmental detail.

Recommended Age: 10+
Genre: Adventure RPG
Subject Matter: Magic, wizardry, Harry Potter stories
Difficulty Level: Low – Medium
Franchise: LEGO / Harry Potter
Number of Players: 1 – 2

#7

LEGO Disney Pixar's The Incredibles

Best PS4 Game With Superheroes

The LEGO Disney Pixar’s The Incredibles is good superhero game combines action-packed thrills with a satisfying victory over the bad guys; a good superhero game for kids does it while minimizing violent animations, adding fun storytelling elements, and providing opportunities for critical thinking. Kids can play as the Incredibles, using their iconic powers to create huge LEGO buildings and achieve victory over the super villains holding power over the city’s denizens. They can play alone or in two player co-op mode as they take on characters and locales featured in both The Incredibles and The Incredibles 2, and of course, there’s no shortage of the giggle-worthy one-liners LEGO games are known for.

Recommended Age: 10+
Genre: Platform / Building
Subject Matter: Superheroes
Difficulty Level: Low – Medium
Franchise: Lego / Pixar / The Incredibles
Number of Players: 1 – 2

#8

Cars 3: Driven to Win

Best PS4 Racing Game for Kids

It’s going to be a few years before they’re doing any real-life stunt driving, but they can still have a blast tackling awesome challenges as their favorite racers with the Cars 3: Driven to Win from the beloved Cars movie series. They’ll be able to race against the movie’s ultimate competitor, Lightning McQueen, and practice fun aerial tricks, barrel rolls, driving on two wheels, and more. Players can race against the game’s computer-controlled AI characters, or take a turn competing with family and friends. It’s an ideal first racing game thanks to the generous difficulty settings — easy mode is great for younger kids, but once they’re winning without a challenge, you can kick it up to medium for a new learning curve.

Recommended Age: 10+
Genre: Racing
Subject Matter: Racing and stunt driving
Difficulty Level: Low – Medium
Franchise: Cars / Disney / Pixar
Number of Players: 1 – 4

#9

Carnival Games

Best Educational PS4 Game

There’s a lot to love about a night at the carnival — exciting rides, delicious food, and, of course, lots of fun skill games at which to test your luck. This simple Carnival Game from 2K explores 20 fun mini-game favorites with a cute carnival theme. Players will be able to shoot hoops, take a trip to the cosmic bowling alley, race cool flying “drones”, and even take down troublesome clowns alone or with up to four pals. Just like a real carnival, they’ll be able to earn tickets; here, though, they’ll trade them in for a variety of wild and wacky outfits in which to dress their game-playing avatars.

Recommended Age: 10+
Genre: Platform / Mini Games
Subject Matter: Carnival games
Difficulty Level: Low – Medium
Franchise: 2K
Number of Players: 1 – 4

#10

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best PS4 Game For Star Wars Fanatics

With a new generation of Star Wars films is born a new generation of Star Wars fans. The Force Awakens quickly became one of the most beloved sci-fi films in recent history, leaving lots of room for the team at LEGO to translate the captivating story into game form while retaining their signature tongue-in-cheek humor. The deluxe edition of
of the action-packed role-playing game, LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens offers season pass content, and even comes with an exclusive mini-figure of fan-favorite character Finn. There’s also exclusive playable content that offers insight about the film by following adventures that took place between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, so it’s a can’t-miss for the hardcore fan.

Recommended Age: 10+
Genre: RPG / Action / Building
Subject Matter: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Difficulty Level: Medium
Franchise: LEGO / Star Wars
Number of Players: 1 – 2

#11

LEGO Jurassic World

Best PS4 Game With Dinosaurs

The Jurassic Park series of films has captivated generations of viewers with action-packed scenes that translate quite ideally into game form. There’s a twist here, though — In LEGO Jurassic World game players aren’t just inhabiting human characters this time, they’re creating their very own LEGO dinosaurs to inhabit Isla Sorna and Isla Nubar. They’ll tackle free play missions, collect dinosaur DNA, and even create original dinosaurs through crossbreeding. They’ll also be able to relive the classic storylines seen in all four Jurassic Park/World films either alone or in co-op mode, seeing their favorite characters brought to life in LEGO form.

Recommended Age: 10+
Genre: Adventure / Building
Subject Matter: Dinosaurs
Difficulty Level: Low – Medium
Franchise: Lego / Jurassic Park
Number of Players: 1 – 2

#12

Paw Patrol On A Roll

Best PS4 Game For 5 Year Olds

It can be tough to find games that feel suitable for the youngest of players. Mature content and complicated mechanics can make some picks inappropriate for first-time players, but this sweet Paw Patrol game is an ideal pick for 4 – 6 year old players who need a game that’s easy to operate and will love bringing their favorite pups to life while playing. They’ll be able to complete 16 fun rescue missions with all eight of the Paw Patrol puppies, seeing eight of the locations featured in the show’s Adventure Bay. Each of the Paw Patrol pups has their own special ability, and two pups work in tandem to complete each mission. Parents should note that while this game is ideal for one child, there’s no co-op mode, so it can’t be shared.

Recommended Age: 4+
Genre: Platform
Subject Matter: Rescue adventure
Difficulty Level: Low
Franchise: Paw Patrol
Number of Players: 1

#13

Just Dance

Best PS4 Game For Music Lovers

Whether they’re experts at busting a move or they’ve got two left feet, players jump at the opportunity to play the Just Dance games. They translate top 40 hits into a rhythm game that can be played with a controller, and the difficulty level can be scaled to players’ ability. Just Dance 2018 uses a smartphone and the Just Dance Controller app to play, and features 40 of the year’s most popular tunes. Players simply load up the app once the game is synced to the PS4 and they’re ready to start “dancing”! The game can be played alone, with friends, or online in World Dance Floor mode where experienced players can compete to earn rewards. Parents should note that an Internet connection is required to play this title with the Just Dance Controller app.

Recommended Age: 10+
Genre: Dance
Subject Matter: Music / dancing
Difficulty Level: Low – High
Franchise: Just Dance
Number of Players: 1 – 6

Quick Decision

Playstation Minecraft – Best Overall
Combines an open-world play experience that’s customizable to their imagination with opportunities to strategize and think critically

Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 – Upgrade Choice
Far more graphically detailed than its predecessor and revamps the concept with third person shooter elements that create new interest in the series.

LEGO Worlds – Best Budget Buy
Combines the cool, quirky aesthetic of LEGO games with the fun sandbox-y feel of other popular building games, adding unique content that plays to the series’ trademark sense of humor.

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For your budding moviemaker, we’ve rounded up our best choices of motion animation kit for your easy picking.

Hannah H.

Hannah H.

Hannah is both a parent and a freelance journalist and author. You go, girl! She is an impeccable wordsmith and her warm and witty outlook on life makes her pieces a joy to read.

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