Editor’s note: Our resident gaming expert, Monica Zalaznik, takes a break from her regular beats to bring you some perspective on whether it’s worth the hassle (and the online wait) to secure a Sony PlayStation 5.
BUCKHANNON – The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X came out in November 2020, but chances are, you haven’t seen one — the supply hasn’t been able to meet demand.
Shoppers looking to purchase the new systems not only have to pay for the expensive hardware, but they also have to fight just to buy one. Because of COVID-19, both Microsoft and Sony were hesitant to offer the new consoles on shelves, at least in bulk. Systems are being sold in limited quantities in stores, but most are available online to avoid large gatherings.
Purchasing something online has become the norm and some people may think it would be easier to secure a system that way, rather than counting on your local Walmart or Best Buy, but that has not been the case. Websites frequently crash because they can’t handle the sheer number of people trying to snag a console, and if you do get one in your cart, it can be taken away if you aren’t fast enough completing the purchase.
And, to make matters worse, you’ll be competing against not just fellow gamers, but scalpers who profit by purchasing the systems at their retail cost and then selling them at a higher rate via online auctions.
This headache and expense are not for everyone. The truth is, there are not a lot of games exclusive to next generation consoles — so far at least. Several games have been given an upgraded PS5 or Xbox Series X version, but those can still be played on the previous generation of systems, usually quite enjoyably. Even some of the most anticipated new titles — such as Horizon Forbidden West or Halo Infinite — will be released on PS4 and Xbox One.
But there will be people who want to play Ratchet and Clank, Demon Souls and Spider Man: Miles Morales as soon as possible. I am one of those people, and after months of trying, this summer I finally secured a PS5 of my own.
The PS5 undeniably runs better than the previous version. Apps open faster, load times in games are shorter and the graphics look better. Certain games from previous generations run much better on the PS5, even if they don’t have an official PS5 version. Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, in particular, ran with fewer problems than a launch PS4.
A new console is a big investment; gaming is not an inexpensive hobby. Both consoles have a digital version, which means you have to buy games online, with no disk drive, that are cheaper, in the range of $300. The higher end consoles with a disk drive cost $500.
Some retailers have also decided to sell these systems in bundles, with games, controllers, gift cards and service memberships that further increase the price. The retailers claim these bundles were implemented to dissuade scalpers from buying up their supply of consoles.
Despite the slow start, this console generation looks exciting. The video game industry has been hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic, but 2023 looks like a stacked year for gamers. Some people will want to have their consoles raring to go, ready for future installments of their favorite titles — like God of War — as well as new original titles like Elden Ring. Other players will look at the current libraries of games exclusive to next gen systems and decide it isn’t worth spending the money quite yet.
My tip — Evaluate how much usage you would get from one of the new systems before making the plunge. If there are no games on these new systems that pique your interest enough to shell out several hundred dollars, it might be worth waiting. If you have a launch PS4 that sounds like a jet engine when it turns on — like this writer — and you know you will use the system often, it’s worth it.