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A few weeks ago, when I was engaged in a conversation with my younger brother about the upcoming next generation consoles, my mother interjected with a question that’s thought provoking: “Which of the systems is worth getting?”
When she asked the question, I thought for a moment and responded that were I to make a recommendation I would get either a PS3 or an Xbox 360 and put off getting an Xbox One or PS4. I didn’t go beyond that simple response, but in this column I’m going to make a case as to why it would be better to get a PS3 or Xbox 360 than spending good money for their successor consoles.
There are three distinct advantages that I believe the existing consoles have over their next generation counterparts. These advantages, in order of importance, are price; availability of games; and, paradoxically, substantive support from both Sony and Microsoft for the current consoles. Let’s consider each one.
When shopping for any type of good, the first thing that hits us is price. It’s very noticeable and is usually an accurate reflection of the good’s value to the prospective consumer. If the pricing between similar products is virtually identical, then value must be determined on what each good has to offer the consumer, such as additional perks and features that makes it more appealing.
Thankfully, the price differences between the Xbox One and Xbox 360, and the PS3 and PS4, are pretty stark. If a consumer only had $400 to spend on any one of these systems, the PS3 and Xbox 360 both offer some great options. For example, Sony offers a variety of PS3 bundles that include a game (or games, in some instances) and a high-capacity hard drive for less than $300. The Xbox 360 also has a games bundle with a high capacity drive for less than $300. If a consumer wanted both systems, he or she could grab both the Xbox 360 4GB and PS3 12GB flash drive models for $400 and worry about games later.
Getting a PS4 will set a consumer back the entire $400 just for the basic system, whereas with the Xbox One a consumer would need to get another $100 just to buy the base system.
If a consumer was even more budget-minded, he or she could buy a used Xbox 360 or PS3 at a variety of outlets and still have money to spare for games. As far as I know there are no used Xbox Ones and PS4 on the market.
As gamers, we all know that games are what makes or breaks a system. As this current generation is winding down, it seems that many developers are pulling out all the stops to exit on a high note. There are a considerable number of games that will be coming out for the Xbox 360 and PS3 that as of yet have not been announced for the either of their successors.
The most obvious game that will be getting considerable amounts of gameplay is Rockstar’s next entry in the revered Grand Theft Auto franchise. Grand Theft Auto V is looking to be the biggest and boldest game in the series with the ability to control three different characters and cause some mayhem in the sprawling city of Los Santos. IGN had a chance to play the game and based on its impressions it looks to be stellar.
Another game that is coming out and garnering a great amount of attention is Batman Arkham Origins. Although the game is being handled by a different developer, the game stays true to the series roots with its innovative combat system, plethora of characters from the Batman franchise, and being able to explore Gotham City before the events leading up to Arkham Asylum and Arkham City.
Some other games that will only be making their way onto current generation consoles are Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, Dark Souls 2, Rayman Legends, and Beyond: Two Souls (although it is only coming to PS3). In addition to these great games, both current generation consoles have great games already out, such as Borderlands 2, Skyrim, Bioshock Infinite, The Last of Us (exclusive to PS3), and Halo 4 (exclusive to Xbox 360).
Many of the games that are coming to the Xbox One and PS4 will also be available on the Xbox 360 and PS3. Call of Duty Ghosts, Battlefield 4, Watchdogs, and Assassins Creed IV are going to be released within the coming months for the Xbox 360 and PS3. Final Fantasy XIV A Realm Reborn, which is coming to the PS4, is already available for the PS3. Diablo III, which is also coming to the PS4, is already available for the PS3 and Xbox 360. And Metal Gear Solid Ground Zeroes will be released for all four systems in 2014. There is no doubt that many of these games will look better on Xbox One and PS4, but is getting better graphics worth the price of upgrading to a newer console?
Certainly the Xbox One and PS4 will be getting exclusives that will not be available on Xbox 360 and PS4. On November 22, Xbox One consumers can look forward to exclusives such as Dead Rising 3, Forza 5, and Ryse: Son of Rome. PS4 consumers will be able to play Killzone, Shadowfall, Knack, and Drive Club when they get their hands on the system November 15. While these games will be fun and graphically superior to some of the current generation games, many of these games will have to compete with the likes of Grand Theft Auto V, Arkham Origins, Dark Souls 2 and the multiplatform releases mentioned.
SUPPORT BY MICROSOFT FOR XBOX 360 AND SONY FOR PS3
The last advantage that I believe the Xbox 360 and PS3 will have over their successors is that neither Microsoft nor Sony is going to discontinue supporting these platforms anytime soon. Both the Xbox 360 and PS3 have millions of users and it is reasonable to assume that a significant number of these users will not be upgrading in the short term. Sony and Microsoft will continue to provide support and updates for these users for as long as there is a demand for their respective systems. Indeed, Yuhsef Mehdi, Xbox chief marketing and strategy officer, said in a recent interview that he anticipates the Xbox 360 to be around for at least “the next three years.” This is a far cry from Microsoft’s quick abandonment of the Xbox when the Xbox 360 debuted.
Sony’s behavior is even more predictable. Sony has a penchant of continuing to support its ageing systems well into the next generation of consoles. The original PlayStation ended its eleven year run six months before the release of the PlayStation 3. The PlayStation 2 is finally being retired after being on the market for twelve years and ten months before the release of PlayStation 4. While I will not say that Sony will keep the PlayStation 3 on the market for more than a decade, it can be assumed that the company will at least support the PlayStation 3 for a few years.
In addition, both companies released new iterations of its current consoles. Microsoft recently released a slimmer model of the Xbox 360; Sony just released a flash drive only 12GB PlayStation 3. If these companies intended to cease support of their current consoles it would make no sense to release new versions of them.
It’s definitely an exciting time to be gamer because the next generation is nearly here. Everyone expects the Xbox One and PS4 to post huge sales numbers once they are released, but it would not be surprising if sales of the Xbox 360 and PS3 continue to outpace their successors. In this aspect, the Xbox 360 and PS3 are the biggest competition for the Xbox One and PS4. They have good reason to be as both systems offer great value at a lower price and a wide array of games. Anyone who can’t afford to upgrade – or doesn’t want to upgrade – will hardly be missing out by staying with the current generation for a few more years.