A new dawn is upon us, gamers! Fancy, expensive, and more importantly, new video game systems are set to launch this week and next. Sony's Playstation 4 is first out the gate on November 15th, with Microsoft's Xbox One nipping at its heels on November 22nd. The lines in the sand have been drawn, blood has been spilled over the course of many E3 tech demos, and battles are forged daily on the charred battlegrounds of Twitter and GameFAQs and NeoGaf. Soon, very soon, the systems will be out in the wild, and in the hands of hungry gamers.
Unless you didn't get a chance to pre-order one of them. In which case, you are boned. (You are more than welcome to spend several hundred dollars more to scalpers on eBay and Craigslist, though!)
But maybe that's not such a bad thing. History has shown that, time and time again, the launches of new video game systems are rarely - if ever - truly successful. Here are ten reasons NOT to buy a next-gen video game system at launch!
10) The Price
A Playstation 4 will set you back 400 big ones; an Xbox One, 500. Hopefully I don't have to write yet another list detailing all the different things you could purchase with that kind of money. Suffice it to say that brand-new video game systems are almost never priced to move.
Except maybe the Ouya. But the less said about Ouya, the better.
Far be it from me to criticize what other people do with their money, especially a not-entirely insignificant though not-earth-shattering amount like 500 bucks, but keep in mind yet another key fact that repeats itself time and time again for video game systems: The prices tend to drop. Typically within a year, and typically at amounts around 50 dollars or more.
Take a look at this Wikia list that charts all the various price drops for video game systems since the mid-'90s. The timing where the price drops occur may fluctuate (the Xbox 360 held firm at around 300 dollars until 2008, while the PS3 jumped up and down with several different models until the PS3 Slim was released in 2009), the message is pretty clear: it pays to wait.
I mean, hell: I'm a big Nintendo fanboy and idiot nerd who spent 350 dollars last year on a Wii U, only to realize I would've been better served if I'd waited until a month ago when they slashed the price of the 32GB "Deluxe" set to 300, and gave it a sexy Legend of Zelda skin to boot. AND included a game I actually wanted, Wind Waker HD, instead of Nintendoland. Grumble grumble.
Of course, if you just HAVE TO HAVE the newest and bestest and fastest gaming system with the most graphics, well, that's your call. Just make sure to prepare yourself for....
9) Launch Games Are Almost Always Disappointing
There are two types of games that appear at the launch of a new system: ports of games you can already buy elsewhere, and a select few "Exclusive" games you can only get on that system. Sometimes, those "Exclusive" games are amazing, and make your purchase of a new system worth any amount of money! Sometimes those launch games are Super Mario 64, a revolutionary title that redefined video gaming itself! Other times, those launch games are Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire, which are pieces of shit.
Some people say that this game is "underrated." Coincidentally, a lot of people who say the word "underrated" with a straight face are idiots.
Most of the time, though, the launch games are somewhere in between. Think of stuff like Perfect Dark Zero for the Xbox 360. Mehh. Or Resistance: Fall of Man for the PS3. Ehhhh. Not terrible games, but not worth several hundred dollars. They can currently be found sullying the $4.99 bargain bins at any game store. For the PS4, Sony is hinging on you and I being excited about Killzone: Shadow Fall and Knack. Not bad. On the Xbox One, Microsoft is hitching their wagon to Forza Motorsport 5 and Ryse: Son of Rome. Okay, sure.
Okay, so maybe Killzone: Shadow Fall turns out to be amazing, or Ryse: Son of Rome is more than the gore-fest it appears to be. But I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that neither of them is probably going to be as strong and rewarding as The Last of Us or Grand Theft Auto V, both of which are only available on our crummy, outdated, markedly inferior Xbox 360s and Playstation 3s.
8) Graphics Aren't Everything
So, let's cut the crap - the reason you or anyone you know would ever want or care about an Xbox One or Playstation 4, right at launch, is because they look pretty. And, yeah, they look REALLY fucking nice!
Here's Battlefield 4 running on a Playstation 3:
And here's Battlefield 4 on a Playstation 4:
The difference is pretty astronomical! Lookit all those particle effects! That dynamic lighting!! All that detail!!! OH MY GOD!!!
Which is all fine and dandy, but judging from nearly every review of the game out there, all the extra polish and nice features that are exclusive to the next-gen console versions doesn't significantly improve the game. No sir; the reason that Super Mario World and Sonic the Hedgehog still hold up as classic games is BECAUSE they're still classic games. They looked pretty goddamn amazing compared to 8-bit games in 1991, which is why everyone bought the damn things, but even a significant leap in graphics isn't enough to become a fixture in the gaming pantheon of greatness.
The Playstation 2 had a strong library of some of the best games ever made, but nearly all of them - save for the timeless Ico - were released well after the first year of the system's life. I guess you could make the argument that buying a Playstation 2 when it launched eventually paid off, but remember that trying to buy a Playstation 2 at launch was a special sort of madness. "Manufacturing delays" meant that shipments to nearly every major territory were cut in half, and the system flew off shelves in record time and quickly popped up on the then-revolutionary auction site eBay, charging outlandish amounts.
7) The Hassle
With that in mind, let's think about less of the new system's "cost" in pure dollars, and put another metric to it. Right now, as of this moment, if you want an Xbox One or a Playstation 4, and you have not already pre-ordered it, be prepared for one hell of an ordeal. We're talking about camping outside of major retailers all night, in order to barge into the store when they open. And even post-launch, getting one of these things is going to be a nightmare. Be prepared to spend a lot of time calling and bugging the hell out of the Target clerk, week after week, for any information about when they're next shipment arrives. Driving frantically around town to every Gamestop and Best Buy in the area, "just in case."
Of course, this can be mitigated by simply ponying up the extra markup the system will surely garner on eBay and Craigslist and so forth. So ask yourself if you really want a PS4 or an Xbox One, then be prepared to pay lots and lots of money or endure a painstaking hassle in order to claim one.
And then - and then! - should this monumental escapade prove fruitful, and you have in your possession a shiny new video game system, rejoice! Until maybe a week or two later, when the thing breaks.
6) Failure Rates
Yup! Any PS3 or 360 owner shudders when they hear the letters YLOD or RROD - that would be the Yellow Light of Death and the Red Ring of Death, respectively. Both were rampant problems for early adopters of both systems, and both required costly repairs. Even in 2007, nearly two years after the launch of the Xbox 360, retailers estimated that the system had a failure rate as high as 33 percent. That's right; one-third of every 360 owner got the dreaded Red Ring, foiling their latest Gears of War kill streak.
I was a big dummy who bought a Wii U at launch because I needed a guide like this, and the damn thing broke within a week. Granted, Nintendo was super nice and sent me a new one free of charge, but I was right in the middle of Mass Effect 3 and didn't appreciate the box staring at me, reminding me that my system could not play it because it was broken. Like my spirit. And my heart.
In subsequent revisions of the PS3 and Xbox 360, many - if not all - of the hardware defects were ironed out, and resulted in consoles that consumed less power, failed a lot less, and cost less to boot. So there's that to think about.
But whatever; you can roll the 400-500 dollar dice and take the risk. 1 out of 3 failures means that 2 awesome people had Xboxes that didn't break, right?