The PS5 and Xbox Series X|S have been out in the world for over a year, meaning we’re firmly inside the next-gen gaming era, and if you don’t have one of these systems yet, it can feel like you’re missing out. But are you, really? It has me wondering, when is the best time to buy the latest gaming console?
The elephant in the room here is, obviously, both the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S are incredibly difficult to find. Many of us would have bought these consoles already if they were as easy to buy as their games. But let’s pretend you have the opportunity to buy one of these consoles. Today. Should you do it?
Why we’re not talking about the Nintendo Switch
The Switch is a bit removed from this conversation. There’s no doubt that it’s the third option in the current gaming era, but, unlike the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S, it’s an established console at this point. The Switch is rapidly approaching five years on the market; in that time, its library has grown to encompass a wide selection of exclusives, Wii U-ports, AAA third-party experiences, and indie titles.
Not only that, the console now comes in three different options; the OG model (now with improved battery life), the OLED Switch, and the Switch Lite. In many ways, the Switch’s history presents an argument that waiting a bit to buy into the latest gaming era is probably a safe move. (Also, if you’re debating whether or not to buy a Switch, do it! It’s great!)
You might want to wait for the refresh console
Consoles usually go through a refresh during their time on the market. The first model released (or models, in this generation’s case) are the “prototypes,” if you will; expensive, flashy, something the company intends to stick in people’s minds as it introduces something new to the world.
After some time, though, the company rolls out a refresh. Think of the PS4 Slim and PS4 Pro — you either have a less-expensive version of the original console, or a more expensive, upgraded option. It’s nice to have the choice, since some of us value power and performance above all, while others want to game without breaking the bank.
Of course, there’s no promise that Sony and Microsoft will issue refreshes for their consoles this cycle. This is just historical precedent. But even if these companies decide to stick with their consoles until the PS6 and Xbox, uh, whatever Microsoft ends up calling it, those prices will inevitably come down.
It might be difficult to imagine after 2021, but we’ll live through a time with ready access to new PlayStations and Xboxes. And, hopefully, that leads to a price cut at some point in the console’s lifecycle. If not, though, a used console could net some savings. In either case, waiting will save you money in the long run.
You might want to wait for the PS5 and Xbox Series libraries to expand
Don’t get me wrong, there are some compelling next-gen games out there, but the library is still small. That’s not to say there aren’t a whole host of games to play on a PS5 or Xbox Series X|S, because there are tons; it’s just that the list of games you can only play on those consoles isn’t very long.
Last-gen consoles are still popular, and game makers are continuing to produce games for those systems alongside the new ones. That works out for everyone: If you have a PS5, you can take advantage of better graphics and performance. However, if you only have a PS4, you can still play that game, just optimised for your older hardware. Speaking of which:
Why you should consider your current console situation
This is a big one for me: Whether or not you should buy a new console right now likely depends on what you already have to work with. If you have a PS4 or Xbox One, you have access to a giant library of games, many of which are still being released right now. Your current setup is likely more than enough to keep you entertained and hooked on the latest titles.
If it’s performance you’re looking for, that’s another question. If you have a PS4 Pro or an Xbox One X|S, then you have a lot of power to play with. Sure, these consoles might not handle 4K at 120 fps, but they can play in 4K. The PS4 and Xbox One, on the other hand, definitely sacrifice performance due to their hardware. If you’re all about the quality, there’s a good argument that upgrading to a PS5 or Xbox Series X|S is in your best interests.
To me, it comes down to this: If you’re not desperate to play one of the PS5 or Xbox Series X|S’ exclusives, and you already have some type of last-gen console, there’s no need to buy a new one right now. If you have the funds and want that extra power, by all means, buy the console, but if you’re weighing the options, know that your current PlayStation or Xbox is perfectly capable of giving you a modern gaming experience. After all, think of all the games you could buy for the price of a new system.