It’s never too late to buy a new console (photo: Sony)
A reader establishes the four stages of a console’s life and advises when the best and cheapest time is to buy a new one.
Regardless of the importance that the 202nd decade of AD brings to humanity as a whole, in terms of games, it promises to be one to remember. If nothing else for the fact that the outgoing Xbox and PlayStation systems are passing their respective canes to their successors.
The updates of the generational console are fascinating things and are subject to both rage and hyperbole and scrutiny. But, as much as we all expect the launch of a new super system, not everyone buys one at the launch. Sony and Microsoft have not hidden that they are working on new hardware and yet the marketing monsters behind their current offers have continued unabated.
For example, even though the monthly sales of the system have slowed down for the PlayStation 4 in the last holiday period, Sony still managed to sell millions of things; even at a stubbornly high price for this point in its life cycle.
Which brings me to the question in question: when is the best time to invest in a new and contemporary console. I think there are four different phases.
The launch window buyer
There is nothing more exciting than owning a new console on the “first day.” That feeling of having cutting-edge console technology before 99% of your friends is hard to beat, and not because players are shameless fans (or not only because of that), but because sharing that new console experience with friends is a wonderful thing. .
I have not been strictly a Day Wunner, but I had the privilege of owning an import Dreamcast before the PAL launch in 1999, so I can guarantee how amazing it feels to have the system before everyone else you know. The emotion is tangible and when you jump first you certainly influence the system chosen by your friends.
However, despite all the excitement, the drawbacks are numerous. A very thin library of titles that generally does not ignite the world. For every Halo: Combat Evolved there are five quality games Killzone Shadowfall or Ryse. Then you have your cross-generation games that are barely distinguished from the previous generation (see Zelda: Breath Of The Wild and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag) or have been truncated due to the rapid development of a new engine (FIFA has a form for this) and the benefits of the update from the perspective of the game are less.
Add to this the most modern frustrations of half-baked interfaces, missing functions and defective systems (Red Ring of Death, Yellow Light of Death, Fall-Joy-Cons) and it almost feels like a console beta tester because of its money. And yes, it is a lot of money to buy a machine at launch or nearby.
You can even get a motion camera that you never wanted too.
But despite all this, nothing in the games compares to the excitement of having a newly launched game box.
Xbox One S: almost an impulse purchase (photo: Microsoft)
Poachers in mid-cycle price drop
Since most people do not buy a console at launch, given the drawbacks, the next phase I see covers a wider window of two to three years.
During this time, we generally see several important changes in the life cycle of a console. The first is that important initial price drop. Depending on the success of the system, this can be between six months and two years (unless it is a Nintendo Switch). At this time, the library is more diverse, with more essential gems that make better use of modern technology.
Old games are also cheaper. The console can even have its own Platinum / Classics / Budget / Bargain container line, so you can spend your library on your new console quickly, easily and economically.
You will also see hardware revisions, which will be widely publicized as Switch Lite and Xbox One S or implemented with little fanfare, in the same way that some of the various revisions of Mega Drive, Saturn, PlayStation 1 and PS2 leaked. In any case, it generally means better economies of scale and more cost reduction.
Most importantly, that game that takes you to the limit may finally be available. For me, after lowering its price and the Kinect sensor, Halo 5 took me to the limit for the Xbox One. For the Wii U it was Super Mario 3D World, for PlayStation 3 it was LittleBigPlanet 2, for PlayStation 2 it was GTA 3, for Xbox 360 was Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 (don’t ask). In those cases, a game that I considered unmissable along with a more affordable price made me take the plunge.
Buyers of late offers
Buying a console at the end of your life is a strange thing. How do you know he is at the end of his life? Usually, rumors about his successor are accelerating and the release schedule tends to become more vague and thin, as its price tends to fall more than ever.
You’ve seen it in every generation, where a contemporary console can be picked up for relative misery along with some games. This is the main benefit of waiting until this stage. Either because he hesitated to make the leap to the generation as a whole or because he had opted for a rival machine before, there is much to gain by raising a console when he is in his twilight years.
I remember buying a completely new GameCube for £ 30 in Currys when they were making room on the shelves for the Xbox 360 that will be launched soon in 2005. That is an extreme example. More common is seeing new consoles for about a third of their launch price or less than £ 100 second-hand, just like the Xbox One now.
Interestingly, the PlayStation 4 seems to have resisted this trend, stubbornly clinging to a price of around £ 249 that the thin version launched years ago, only £ 150 less than its launch price.
And this is what prompted me to write this piece, since my wife was incredible enough to buy me a PlayStation 4 for Christmas. With the PlayStation 5 less than a year ago, does that provide good value? I would say yes. The console library is enormously impressive and since exclusives such as God Of War, Horizon Zero Dawn, Bloodborne and many more can be obtained for less than ten percent if you buy, you can accumulate a large library very quickly.
Add to this a large selection of games that will be released in the first half of 2020, including The Last Of Us Part 2, and it is still a good time to become a PlayStation 4 owner. Several million players in recent months seem to be in agreement.
Sometimes, buying a console in agony can be the best time!
It may take a while until Switch is cheap (photo: Nintendo)
The Dead Console Dealers
Okay, death sounds too final in this context, since many consoles are compatible after the launch of its successor, but there is no argument regarding saying that they abandoned conventional support such as Windows 7.
Without new games, except for some inherited launches, you will be forgiven for thinking that the ship had sailed on a console that is no longer current, but you will be wrong.
Of course, there would be no new triple A launches, the online arenas could become increasingly scarce and you may have seen your latest system update, but if you are immersing yourself in what is essentially a last generation system, then you are In for a gift.
If you used to think that games and systems were cheap, they will now be literally at bargain levels. Okay, you won’t find much news (especially if production has stopped) but they will all be very cheap, with even cheaper games. As an example, just take a look at the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 actions now on your local CeX. You could get the three main games of Gears Of War and Uncharted and still have a change of £ 10. And that’s just for starters!
Just don’t leave your console software acquisition idle for so long that it becomes “retro”, at which point titles will likely start to get expensive again …
So when is the best time to buy a console?
I am precisely escaping and I say it is up to you! I have enjoyed buying games at every stage of life from various systems. I had a Dreamcast around its PAL release; an Xbox 360, PlayStation 2 and Xbox One all purchased and enjoyed during the first price drops; a GameCube, PlayStation 3 and now PlayStation 4 in its last years; with a PlayStation 1 and SNES both purchased after being supplanted by their successors.
It all depends on the games you love and what you want from your system!
By reader Daniel Driver
Swooper D (gamertag)
swooper_d (PSN ID / Steam ID / Twitter)
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