Now, I know everyone’s anxious to buy the latest systems on the market and scoop up tons of great games, but there are several factors to consider before taking the “next-gen plunge.” This handy video game holiday shopping guide will help you make the informed decisions and careful planning in order to have the merriest gaming holiday season yet!
Next Generation Video Game Consoles (PlayStation 4, Xbox One)
The PS4 and XB1 just launched a few weeks ago and they’re already some of the fastest selling home consoles in the history of video games, with Sony selling a reported 1 million unit in just Canada and the United States in its first 24 hours. But is the next-gen of gaming right for you? Well here is some important information to keep in mind as you decide…
1. Most Current Next-Gen Games are Available on Older Systems
That’s right. All the biggest games out right now are generally available on the PS3 and Xbox 360. Call of Duty: Ghosts, Battlefield 4, Skylanders: Swap Force, Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag, and various yearly sports releases are all available for purchase on the PS3 and Xbox 360 right now, just to name a few.
More importantly, most of these games offer little to no difference between generational versions. Aside from slight graphics boosts and more online players, most of these major 3rd party games are identical in content and performance. Also to keep in mind, is that most 3rd party developers usually continue to release their latest games on both generations of consoles for about another 6 months, and sometimes even a year later.
2. Some Great Games are Only Available on Older Systems
Keep in mind that there are AMAZING games that are only available on older consoles right now. Smash hit Grand Theft Auto 5 is currently only on PS3 and Xbox 360. This also goes for Batman: Arkham Origins, The Wolf Among Us, and the upcoming story DLCs for BioShock Infinite and The Last of Us. So there is still some life left in the older consoles.
Also, as I mentioned before, most developers continue to support both generation of consoles during a transitional 6-month to one-year period (think DVD holdovers now that we have Blu-ray).
3. Missing Features, and Glitches, and Bugs (Oh My!)
No console launch is complete without hitches. During the first weeks of the next generation, there were several reports of console hardware malfunctions (yikes). With the PS4 experiencing dying consoles due to faulty HDMI ports and other causes, and the Xbox One showing a horrifying disc loader grinding noise, both consoles have had their fair share of issues. There have also been some software issues with the new console OSes being pushed to their limits on their first public outings. Most of these issues are either very small (Sony is reporting less than 0.1% of consoles have failed), or can be cleared up with future software updates (Sony already pushed out PS4 system update 1.51).
Neither console is feature complete at the time of this writing. With each console scheduled to receive more of their advertised features through future updates, you can expect this to be cleared up within a few months.
4. Short Supply
It doesn’t matter how ready you are for the next generation because it all depends on the available stock of consoles from Sony and Microsoft. While both companies are stating that there will be enough systems to go around, it is still uncertain how long this will remain true. Sony has already experienced some supply line stress during its release week and demand will surely increase as family and friends rush out to buy their loved ones the latest and greatest consoles.
Another phenomenon that accompanies every console launch is the dreaded re-seller. These business savvy shoppers buy several consoles, and then resell the extras online at a huge markup. PS4s during launch week were going for as high as $700 on eBay, a $300 markup. Shoppers unfamiliar with the tech, or those desperate enough, might fall victim to these exorbitant prices just so they can get their hands on a system during the hectic holiday season. So, buyers beware.
5. Cost (Hint: it’s a lot)
This is definitely NOT what you want to hear if you’re considering buying a new console, but the cost is high. The PS4 is currently selling for $400 USD; meanwhile, the Xbox One is selling for $500 USD. That’s not including each company’s yearly online service membership or the games. A new console purchase can cost as high as $620 for an Xbox One, Xbox Live membership, and one game (not including sales tax). For game enthusiasts buying for themselves, this might not be a factor, but for family or friends shopping for others, this is a big deal and they should be aware of the cost.
To all those people considering buying a loved one their first video game system, or for those buying for younger children…don’t. I know that sounds awful to say, but realistically a brand new PS4 or Xbox One is a huge investment. If your loved one is a first time or younger gamer (as in under 9 years old), these systems are not for them. With integrated social networking, online games, and a plethora of other features, game consoles are no longer “jam-in-the-cartridge-and-play-Mario” affairs. Besides, with vast and proven game libraries, cheaper prices, and a number of bundles available, a PS3 or Xbox 360 might be the smartest option for young or first-time gamers. Anyway, there will be plenty of time to upgrade in 2014 or 2015 when inevitable price drops take effect.
So, there you have it, several points to keep in mind as you make your holiday purchasing and next-gen decisions. Check back next week for some more in our video game holiday shopping guide series as we give you the info on some of the hottest video games for the holidays.