The next generation of video-game consoles finally hits the market next month. And after about eight years between upgrades, the pent-up demand for new systems from Sony (NYSE: SNE ) and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) could be huge. If you believe GameStop (NYSE: GME ) , the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 launches are tracking at "much stronger" numbers than the last generational upgrade.
However, as with most tech introductions, all of those early adopters will pay a high price for the newest gear -- and not just in dollars. That's why it might make sense to hold off on buying that next-gen device in favor of the current generation.
It costs how much?!
Price will probably be the single biggest hurdle for most gamers. Sony's PS4, the "cheap" one, will retail for $399. Microsoft's Xbox One, with its built-in motion detector, weighs in at a hefty $499. For perspective, either console option would take up more than half of the $750 that consumers tend to spend on all of their holiday shopping each year.
You can save a bundle by picking the current generation instead. For example, GameStop is selling used Xbox 360s for $120 through Oct. 24, and is letting go of used PS3 systems for just $150. Customers also get a $20 used game of their choice when they purchase one of those previously owned consoles. The closeout sale is a smart move for GameStop, which would love to clear its inventory before the wave of trade-ins hits next month. But it also could make loads of sense for gamers who don't already own both consoles and want to stretch those holiday shopping dollars.
Plenty to play
It isn't as if the current generation is dying off, anyway. Sony and Microsoft both plan to support their retiring boxes for years to come. Microsoft, for example, expects to release 100 new games for the Xbox 360 through 2016.
Sure, you won't be able to play some titles that will be exclusive to the next-gen systems in 2014. But that list is tiny compared with all the fresh gaming content that you can play on your current-gen system. Activision Blizzard's new Call of Duty game, Ghosts, and Electronic Arts' Battlefield 4 are just two prime examples that are coming this fall. And some massive new hits are already available, including Take-Two Interactive's (NASDAQ: TTWO ) Grand Theft Auto 5, and EA's FIFA 14. It will take some time for the next-gen library of games to build to a critical mass, and meanwhile the content choices for the current generation is as deep as ever.
So many bugs
Sticking with today's technology also saves you the headache of dealing with the inevitable launch bugs. The new consoles will incorporate lots of upgraded online interactivity, which raises the likelihood that servers will be overwhelmed, patches will be required, and hardware might not work as advertised -- at least until the issues get fixed.
GTA V fans got a taste of that struggle this month, when the game's online launch went haywire, deleting characters and forgetting game progress along the way. After several tries at patching the problem, Take-Two hopes to have the issue solved in the coming week.
Foolish bottom line
Gamers can avoid a few hassles like those if they wait for the dust to settle before purchasing an Xbox One or PS4. Yes, the next-gen systems will finally bring console gaming to a new level starting in November. But that doesn't mean there isn't still plenty of fun to be had with today's models.
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