While we’re all getting pumped up about the PlayStation 4 and whatever Microsoft’s bringing out soon, I’d like to take a few minutes to dull the blade of hype and suggest that buying consoles at launch isn’t so awesome.
I’ve got three key reasons that I’ve pulled from what seemed to be an ever-growing list of ideas. Here’s why buying consoles on day one isn’t such a good idea.
Launch lineups are rarely good.
Man, launch games. On one hand, you’ve got stuff like Halo, Luigi’s Mansion, Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario World. Notice a trend? These games were from console launches that occurred more than 10 years ago. They’re absolute classics, I won’t argue that, but they’re a rare thing.
Looking back on the launch games that accompanied the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and the scene isn’t so pretty. Sure, you’ve got one or two standouts like Resistance: Fall of Man and, I don’t know, Kameo: Elements of Power. But, by and large, launch lineups are an ugly sight.
And the real problem is that most gamers will wind up tired of the limited selection of software available for their newest machine within weeks or, if they’re lucky, months.
Look at the Wii U? Nintendo Land, New Super Mario Bros. U and ZombiU are all great games. But…that’s it. Just like every other launch lineup, things get too sparse, too fast. You have to wait six months to a year before real classics start popping up.
A year or two after the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 hit the market, we had games like Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, Halo 3, Crackdown and Assassin’s Creed. Those are classics. Is anyone still talking about The Outfit?
How about price drops?
Look no further than the Nintendo 3DS to find the source of this launch day hesitation. Nintendo brought their newest handheld to life (barely) with a $250 price tag and a software catalogue more barren than Death Valley.
Six months later, Nintendo was forced to drop the price of their system by $80 (a move I suggested was brilliant back in August of 2011). Those of us who picked it up on launch day at the $250 mark were treated to a round of free virtual console games. Which, well, was okay. I still wish I had the $80 in hand.
The PS Vita’s current price has been a barrier for entry when it comes to a lot of potential consumers since the handheld’s launch. In fact, a price drop is almost a requirement at this point, though Sony hasn’t moved on that just yet.
All systems drop in price over their first few years at market. Deciding when to buy comes down to the current cost of the machine and whether or not it’s valuable. In the case of the launch Nintendo 3DS and its games, $250 was a complete whiff.
Avoiding flawed hardware.
I don’t have to work too prove my point here. Remember the Xbox 360′s launch? Good. Now, remember the Red Ring of Death? Great. That happened a lot.
In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a launch Xbox 360 still in working order. They’re a rare breed, in shorter supply than unicorns and fairy dust. Speaking as someone who lost a console early to the RRoD, waiting would have been a better choice.
We suggest you wait it out.
So, really, unless you’re a diehard fan who absolutely can’t go around six months to a year without having the latest and greatest home console, we suggest you wait it out. Perhaps the only real reason to buy a console at launch is if one of its best features will be dropped in future models. Remember the launch PlayStation 3s? One model was backwards compatible. That one was a keeper.
You’ll avoid flawed hardware, you might see the system drop in price and you’ll be able to jump aboard when there are truly good games to play. Launch games may as well be a genre in and of themselves. A genre you should generally avoid. Steel Diver, I’m looking at you.
Will you be picking up the PlayStation 4 or new Xbox at launch? Or, are you the type who’d rather wait for things to get better?
The photo at the head of this post comes from NASA.