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PS4 Vs. Xbox One — Which Console Is the Better Deal?

Take a closer look at true cost of ownership for PS4 and Xbox One consoles.
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Xbox One and PS4

There are a lot of things to consider when deciding to buy either an Xbox One or PlayStation 4. Most people default to tech specs as a basis of comparison, and while it’s been long-proven that the PlayStation 4 (PS4) is slightly more powerful than the Xbox One, in all honesty, the differences in game performance are hard to spot unless you’re really looking for them.

If your goal is to play with friends who already own a system, or if there’s a game you’re interested in that’s only available on one console, then your decision has been made for you. But for the slick-dealing casual gamer that wants a budget-friendly next-gen system, there’s only one aspect to consider: true cost of ownership.

Low retail pricing and more potential for deeper discounts make the Xbox One a better buy when shopping for a base console system. Xbox One

The Console Itself

Games have historically been the driving force for console sales, and since both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One can be purchased in a bundle that offers one or more free games, there’s never a good reason to buy the console by itself.

A standard one-game 500 GB PlayStation 4 bundle currently retails for $349.99, and in 2015, the PS4 had a significant deal just about every month, with an all-time low official MSRP of $299 just before Christmas. This price drop lasted only two weeks, but with additional coupons and offers, PS4s were being purchased for as low as $237.

Microsoft is currently trying to grow their market share, and a one-game 500 GB Xbox One bundle is priced at $349 with a $50 gift code, essentially making it $299.

During 2015, the Xbox One could also be found with significant deals every month, and Christmas brought about a low MSRP of $299. By stacking additional offers, some Slickdealers were able to purchase an Xbox One bundle for an impressive $219.

Looking at official MSRPs, an Xbox One runs at about the same price as a PlayStation 4, but more often than not, Xbox One bundles offered extra value in terms of additional games or peripherals for the same, if not lower, price.

Low retail pricing and more potential for deeper discounts make the Xbox One a better buy when shopping for a base console system.

xbox one price

Online Services

For a generation where some games are almost exclusively online multiplayer, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One aren’t quite ready to connect you with your friends right out of the box. Both systems require a monthly service subscription in order to compete against other online players — PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold.

PlayStation Plus has a 1-year membership retail price of $49.99 versus Xbox Live Gold’s $59.99, but for Slickdeals users, that’s not a topic of worry as both annual membership plans can be easily found for $40.

PlayStation Plus will occasionally dip down to around $35, while Xbox Live Gold drops to $30 or below on a much more frequent basis.

In terms of features, both services offer extra value with access to free games every month and special discounts on purchases. The only thing to really consider is upfront annual cost because monthly or quarterly plans are much more expensive. Xbox Live Gold is the better buy with more frequent opportunities to find the annual membership on sale.

Xbox one console

 

Peripherals and Accessories

If you prefer to have friends come over for some good ol’ split screen action, you’ll need to purchase an additional controller (or more), as most console bundles typically include only one controller.

PS4 and Xbox One standard controllers retail for $60 each, though there are certainly deals to be had from popular e-tailers like Amazon or Newegg.

The Dualshock 4 wireless controller for PS4 has been hovering around $47 since the beginning of 2016, while the Xbox One wireless controller is stagnant at near full price from the major retailers. Both controllers have an all-time low of $39 during 2015’s Black Friday, with the Dualshock 4 showing more frequent and sustained price drops throughout the year.

Another major, yet highly optional peripheral to consider is a camera system — Xbox One Kinect and PlayStation 4 Camera. The Kinect currently retails for $100 versus PlayStation 4 Camera’s consistent $43-ish price tag.

Neither camera system is being utilized to its maximum potential by game developers — except for the occasional dancing game — which reduces Kinect and PlayStation 4 to being fancy visual and voice controllers for system menu navigation. These are definitely not necessities, but they do add to the full experience of the gaming console.

With more available and sustained price drops on peripherals throughout the year, shoppers will find that PS4 accessories are much cheaper to buy.

 

PS4 console

Price of Games

Games fluctuate in price based on a variety of conditions, including sales volume, age and current popularity. But an immediate 20% discount off the full $60 retail price on pre-orders and newly released games is the new “regular price” if you’re a paying member of a program like Best Buy’s Gamers Club Unlocked or Amazon Prime.

For third-party (not developed by Microsoft or Sony) titles that are released on both Xbox One and PS4, the first price drop usually happens around six weeks after launch, and then it returns to full price for a while. A system exclusive game, like Forza Motorsport 6 (Xbox One) or Uncharted 4 (PS4), will most likely take longer for its initial price drop because theoretically, these titles are highly popular and usually motivate undecided shoppers towards buying one system or the other.

If you’re not a collector and don’t care about disc or box art, digital versions of games go on sale much more often than their physical counterparts. The PlayStation Store and Xbox Marketplace have regular sales that are accessible to all, and those with PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold memberships get even more deals.

In general, the type of console you own doesn't usually factor heavily into gaming price, unless you're dealing with exclusive or timed-exclusive titles.

xbox one vs ps4 games

 

Backwards Compatibility

PlayStation 4 and Xbox One use significantly different architecture than their predecessors, meaning that many people have libraries of PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 games collecting dust next to an aging, unsupported console. When first released, neither next-gen console had the ability to play previous-gen games, but in the race to provide more features and sell more units, Microsoft and Sony introduced their own unique solutions.

Xbox One now has more than 170 Xbox 360 titles eligible for backwards compatibility, with new titles converted on a monthly basis. This feature is available at no additional cost (considering you already own the game), and even allows cross-platform multiplayer between Xbox One and Xbox 360.

Unlike Xbox One, Sony’s approach to accessing previous-gen games is independent of whether you own the game or not — a monthly subscription service, PlayStation Now, gives members the ability to stream games from a large library of PS3 titles. The fee starts at $20 a month or three months for $45.

Both systems add value by giving you access to last generation’s titles, but the Xbox One does it without additional costs.

xbox one backwards compatability

 

Overall

Only considering true cost of ownership, Xbox One is the better buy, requiring less financial investment than PlayStation 4 thanks to lower pricing on the system itself, online services and backwards compatibility. You'll have to determine actual value based on your own preferences and criteria, but from your wallet's perspective, Microsoft takes the cake.

As long as there aren’t PlayStation 4 exclusive games that are pulling you away, Xbox One is the more money-savvy option to get the full next-gen console experience.

Xbox one console

Images courtesy Microsoft and Sony.

 



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About the Author
Andrew Chen Staff

Andrew Chen is a longtime PC gamer, an automotive journalist and an avid deal hunter. His first PC had an 80 megahertz processor with 4 megabytes of RAM, light years away from the powerhouse gaming rigs he builds today. You can follow Andrew's high-speed sports car adventures over at 6SpeedOnline.com. As a Slickdealer for over 10 years, nothing makes him more excited than getting a freebie!

25 Comments

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This comment has been rated as unhelpful by Slickdeals users
#2
This line of thinking is like buying a car based solely on the cost of ownership. You still have to drive that all electric, money saving, lowest cost to own machine you chose. Gamers buy consoles to play the games they want to play and have the best experience while doing so. I'm willing to pay a little more for higher quality.

PS4 has better specs, better exclusives and is destroying the XBONE in sales ( http://arstechnica.com/gaming/201...les-sales/ http://www.geekwire.com/2016/sony...-february/ )
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Our community has rated this post as helpful. If you agree, why not rep dextbgen?
#3
Quote from T333Hud View Post :
This line of thinking is like buying a car based solely on the cost of ownership. You still have to drive that all electric, money saving, lowest cost to own machine you chose. Gamers buy consoles to play the games they want to play and have the best experience while doing so. I'm willing to pay a little more for higher quality.

PS4 has better specs, better exclusives and is destroying the XBONE in sales ( http://arstechnica.com/gaming/201...les-sales/ [arstechnica.com] http://www.geekwire.com/2016/sony...-february/ [geekwire.com] )
This article IS solely based on cost of ownership. The writer mentioned what you just said in the first two paragraphs of the article. Although you are not wrong, you are not adding anything new.
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Our community has rated this post as helpful. If you agree, why not rep JohanM1228?
#4
Quote from T333Hud View Post :
This line of thinking is like buying a car based solely on the cost of ownership. You still have to drive that all electric, money saving, lowest cost to own machine you chose. Gamers buy consoles to play the games they want to play and have the best experience while doing so. I'm willing to pay a little more for higher quality.

PS4 has better specs, better exclusives and is destroying the XBONE in sales ( http://arstechnica.com/gaming/201...les-sales/ [arstechnica.com] http://www.geekwire.com/2016/sony...-february/ [geekwire.com] )
As dextbgen mentioned in the previous comment, the purpose of this article was outlined in the beginning. There are so many other sites that have compared the specs of the two consoles already, so we wanted to focus more on the true cost of ownership since that's more in our wheelhouse. Hopefully you got something out of it!
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#5
Quote from T333Hud View Post :
This line of thinking is like buying a car based solely on the cost of ownership. You still have to drive that all electric, money saving, lowest cost to own machine you chose. Gamers buy consoles to play the games they want to play and have the best experience while doing so. I'm willing to pay a little more for higher quality.

PS4 has better specs, better exclusives and is destroying the XBONE in sales ( http://arstechnica.com/gaming/201...les-sales/ [arstechnica.com] http://www.geekwire.com/2016/sony...-february/ [geekwire.com] )
Both are solid systems with good games. And as we've seen from the cross platform games, the "better specs" argument is mostly moot, as cross platform titles tend to be nigh indistinguishable unless you play both side by side, which no one would ever do.

I love my PS4, but both my Wii U and my Xbox One get more use. The Wii U for games, the Xbox for media. PS4 is good at both, but not as good as Xbox One at media, and its game library still leaves a lot to be desired. That said, I'm looking forward to playing Uncharted 4 the minute I'm done with school for the quarter.
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#6
PS4 has outperformed the xbox one in sales for a reason. Savvy gamers know to pay a little more for a better gaming experience. With that being said, you can find dirt cheap xbox one deals because no one wants one. This would be good for an entry level gamer on a budget.
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Our community has rated this post as helpful. If you agree, why not rep striders?
#7
I have an XBOX One and have had XBOX 360 before that. Paid Gold membership.

Sony announced the Remote Play feature, tried and I am a convert now. That alone is an excellent feature that works in BOTH PC and Mac.

So if you want Remote Play feature, PS4 up the ante.
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#8
Neither, wait for the upgraded hardware editions.
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#9
Trick question, neither. I got an XB1 last year and have just been disappointed. "Nextgen" with slow, small hdd. An external HDD loads faster than internal.
Not to mention the majority of games are still going at 30fps.
I decided to go back full time to PC gaming. So what if the chair causes me back/neck problems, its 60 fps, until my new monitor comes in, then 144 frames.
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#10
BUT the PS4 has the better GPU, frequently allowing most games to be rendered in 1080P, while XBONE is limited to 900P, so the PS4 takes the win for being the better overall system, although both are severely inferior to even a mid-range Nvidia GTX 960 graphics card from the last generation. Now that the next generation Pascal GPUs are coming out, these consoles are absolute crap in comparison, and no longer can be considered "next gen."
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#11
Mercedes vs Toyota. Cost of ownership, Toyota wins. Overall: Toyota Wins. LOL.

This article doesnt emphasize performance. In terms of graphics and frame rate, it is well known the PS4 is better. It plays the games...better. That is what matters most.

Not to mention he made no mention of Playstation Vue, which I love and helped me cut the cost of cable. 55 bucks a month for 100 plus channels in every room (using Amazon fire sticks)? Thats a big plus. He also didnt mention controllers...the xbox one arguably being superior.
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#12
Or you could build a PC which will easily outperform both consoles.
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#13
Slickdeals.net is a web site about DEALS not technology. Of course this article is based on value and not tech specs and performance. If you want a performance comparison so to Digital Foundry or CNET or whatever technology oriented web site.

The comments above are made by mindless Sony fanboys and PC fanboys who resent any article that favors Xbox One on the bottom line conclusion and feel compelled to defend their non-Xbox platform of choice.

Comments (above) about PC's as a better choice is irrelevant and pointless. The article is about Xbox vs. Playstation. PC's vs. consoles = apples vs. oranges.

The perception of PS4's "superior hardware specs" is pointless hair splitting and massively blow out of proportion. Arguing about 900p vs.1080p (for one or two games)? Are you serious? The great vast majority of multi-platform games are identical on Xbox and Playstation. PC games look somewhat better on higher-end systems that cost much more. ( But again, PC's are not consoles and offer a much different user experience than consoles do and appeal to users on a different level ).

Stop the fanboyism and grow up! Different strokes for different folks. Accept it. Move on.
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#14
This article is a prime example of forgetting the fact that the cheapest deal is not always the best value.

If there are two different deals for the very SAME product, well then yes you probably want the cheaper one, but, in this case, there is probably a reason that the X-box is cheaper than the Playstation.

Saving $10 - $50 on the console hardware is most likely not going to be a wise decision if it means that the console I'm essentially stuck with for the next few years is the inferior one. (I'm not saying X-box is inferior, I'm saying that you need to factor that in before you call the less expensive one a better deal).
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#15
Quote from dextbgen View Post :
This article IS solely based on cost of ownership. The writer mentioned what you just said in the first two paragraphs of the article. Although you are not wrong, you are not adding anything new.
No, the main headline of the article is "Which console is a better deal" - it's unfortunate that they added a sub-heading regarding "cost of ownership" without clarifying that, even if one console costs more to purchase initially, it could still be a better value if you derive more enjoyment from it than you would from the other model.

Also, the real significant cost of ownership for the majority of console game players is not the initial console purchase price, it's the cost of games.

Say, for example, if one platform locked out consumers from purchasing used games and the other one did not that would be huge. I remember reading something about Microsoft's plans to do just that. In the end, Microsoft backed down in the face of consumer outrage - but, the fact that they would even try to do that in the first place is enough for me to never consider X-box products again (beyond perhaps just a controller for my PC).
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