I’ve always had a soft spot for games in my heart. I mean what kid wouldn’t want to pretend to be Sonic, the lightning fast blue hedgehog or Mario, the seemingly ordinary Italian plumber? Yet, to be Sonic in the early 1990s, I had to have the game console Sega Genesis. To be Mario, I had to have Super Nintendo. Even at a young age, I felt overwhelmed and confused. Which system was the best? And, how could I get a good deal on one?
These are the same questions I asked myself again when I heard about the anticipated release of the Xbox One and PS4 set for November 2013. So what should avid gamers and occasional game enthusiasts expect? Supposedly, a better console with improved graphics, memory, and other upgrades. Sadly, this also means that your current system will drop in value; but to those who don't yet own one, it can be quite a bargain. Shall we all say, "Happy birthday to moi?!"
However, before you start making extravagant shopping plans for your next trip to the store or online retailer, you should consider the following:
Console Comparisons: Which is the Better Buy?
| Xbox One
|Memory||8 GB of RAM DDR3 500GB hard drive||8 GB of RAM GDDR5 500GB hard drive|
|CPU||8-core x86 processor||x86-64 AMD 'Jaguar' 8 cores|
|Internet Connection||Internet required only for first set up.||Not required.|
|Game Sharing+ Used Games||Not enforcing any restrictions.||Not enforcing any restrictions.|
There’s much that can be said about the PS4 and the Xbox One, but the basic gist here is that the PS4 is the better bargain. Price-wise, it is $100 less than the Xbox One, which will make it more affordable for a wider audience. Last week, Microsoft had announced plans that required Xbox One users be logged in once every 24 hours to be able to play games offline. To those without internet access or a terrible connection, this presented a problem. There were also restrictions on game sharing. Let’s face it, some of us don’t like to play games by ourselves, and we all love to mooch off our friends instead of dropping $60 for a game we’ll only play a few times. With critics and users attacking this decision, Microsoft's president of the interactive entertainment business, Don Mattrick recently released a statement on the Xbox blog saying , "There is no 24 hour connection requirement....There will be no limitations to using and sharing games. It will work just as it does today on Xbox 360." This has helped to settle the two main factors behind why people were against buying the Xbox One.
So, if I’m in love with my Xbox 360, would I upgrade to the pricier Xbox One? If you had asked me this two days ago, I would have said no. But now I'm a bit on the fence. I would be reluctant to buy one mainly because of the higher price, and the fact that the Xbox One requires the Kinect camera to always be plugged in. If you don't care about the cost or potential privacy issues, the Xbox One would be a good choice.
If I was low on cash and needed a new console, would I switch over to the PS4? Yes way!
How about PS3 vs. PS4? If you leisurely play games and want to get a new system soon, the PS3 is the best option. It will be less expensive when the PS4 comes out, and it's been on the market for years, so you’ll have an arsenal of game selections to choose from. Since the PS4 is new, game offerings will be limited. You’ll have to wait if you want a variety of titles to play. Also, the PS3 currently has a large online gaming community. If you’re interested in playing with a variety of users, the PS3 is the best bet for now. On the other hand, if you’re a hardcore gamer, you most likely already have the PS3. So it’s natural to want to upgrade for a better processor (CPU: 3.2 GHz Cell Broadband Engine vs. CPU: 8-core X86 AMD Jaguar), memory (256MB XDR Main RAM vs. 8GB GDDR5 RAM), among other things. If you want to play a specific or exclusive game that’s only available for a certain console, your choice of systems will be dependent on the game. Purchasing PC games may be another option to consider.
Now to the real question, how do you go about getting a good bargain on these overpriced game consoles?
Best Time to Buy Game Consoles
The Christmas holiday season or Black Friday are great times to buy game consoles, particularly game console bundles (which usually includes the game console, extra games, and accessories). For example, during the 2012 holiday season, Microsoft discounted Xbox 360 holiday bundles by $50. During Black Friday 2012, some merchants discounted their game consoles for up to 40% off. The Microsoft Xbox 360 4GB Kinect Bundle was sold for $200 at Target (currently being sold for $289 at Amazon). At around the same time, The Ultimate PS3 Value Bundle, which included the 350GB PS3, a set of game collections, and a 30-day PlayStation Plus trial membership was sold for $199.99. (Currently, the console alone is $269.99 at Amazon.) This year, early leaks tell us that the PS4 will be released on 11/26, three days before Black Friday - a move that is absolutely not mere coincidence.
Another good time to get a game console is when a new console debuts. With the upcoming release of the PS4 and Xbox One, prices for the PS3 and Xbox 360 will start decreasing a little prior to and more so after the the new consoles come out. In fact, prices have already fallen since May. The Xbox 360 was discounted by $20 (dropping from $200 to $180) and the PS2 was marked down to $180 as well. Industry analyst Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities has been predicting the PS2 and Xbox 360 will be lowered by at least $50 with the debut of the PS4 and Xbox One. Merchants have to clear out their inventory to make way for the latest and hottest selling items. They don’t need old systems sitting around collecting dust.
Other Ways to Get a Good Deal
Go the used route. You can buy used and new consoles on Amazon or eBay for a discounted price. GameStop also sells refurbished consoles and will offer you store credit if you choose to trade in any of your older games and consoles. Currently, you can get 10% more in-store credit on trade-ins on purchases when you sign up for a PowerUp Rewards PRO membership for $14.99. If you sign up for the FREE PowerUp Rewards membership, you’ll get 20 points per dollar spent on pre-owned or traded-in games, accessories, and consoles. GameStop also provides a full refund on pre-owned merchandise within the last 7 days the item was purchased or an exchange for the same item within 30 days. Another option is trying other stores that sell used goods around your neighborhood, such as Half Price Books, which sells pre-owned games and consoles on top of the books they normally carry. Selection varies by stores.
Just wait. That’s right, you’ll have to be patient. Usually game console prices start dropping after being on the market for 2-3 years. But what if you want that new game that just came out? You’ll need the new Xbox One instead of the Xbox 360 for that right? Not exactly. For a short period of time, several new games will also be released for your “older” system.
If you really want to save money without all the hassle, use common sense. You don’t have to wait for years to get the best bargain, just don’t pre-order or buy the newest game console, Xbox One or PS4 during their respective launch dates. It’s like buying clothes at regular price when you know it will be on sale in a few months. Trust me, you don’t want to be the one kicking yourself when your friend gets the same console and maybe some free games for a cheaper price months later. That’s never fun.
So what if you DON'T want to wait and would like to get your PS4 or Xbox One the first day it comes out? Fear not, all is not a lost cause! Check out the post, "The Best Place to Pre-Order Your PS4 and Xbox One" for a list of top merchants and the deals they are offering.
Photo credit: mmorpg.com
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