PlayStation: Is It Time To Upgrade Yet?

Is it time to take the plunge on the PlayStation 4?
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PS4 console

We’re coming up on two years since the PlayStation 4 was introduced to the world, and while it has been the sales champ of this generation, lots of gamers have yet to take the plunge to the new console. Is it finally time to make the jump to the PS4, or is the old PS3 workhorse still holding its own?

Games

While all new consoles have lots of functions beyond gaming, and that’s cool, your gaming console should be, first and foremost, a gaming console. Many developers are still releasing great titles for both of Sony’s current machines. Want to play Madden NFL 16 or Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain? No problem, there are PS3 versions of both games available. This year may be the last time that we see that happen though. There are only a handful of confirmed upcoming game releases for the PS3, while many games are already planned for the PS4. The PlayStation 2 saw a long and fulfilling life after the PS3 was released, but this happened for two reasons: first, the PlayStation 2 was the top selling video game console of all time, and second, the PlayStation 3 was really slow to take off due to its high initial price point

The PlayStation 3 has not seen the success of the PS2, nor has the PS4 had the difficulties of the PS3. For these reasons, don’t expect the PS3 to be a viable product much longer, as the stream of games will likely start to dry up next year. However, if you already have another current generation console, like the Xbox One, you'll still have access to the vast majority of current games. Only a handful are exclusive to the PS4 and, as Slickdealer MaxPayne4400 points out, there aren't necessarily enough of those games to warrant a console purchase. Still, if you're a serious fan of the Uncharted series, you'll need a PlayStation 4 to play it. uncharted 4

Switching consoles does mean a loss of your PS3 library of games (unless you leave both systems connected of course), which is certainly frustrating. But since Sony has no plans to add backward compatibility to the PS4, there’s simply no way around it if you choose to upgrade. PlayStation does offer the PlayStation NOW service, which allows you to play a large library of PS3 games, but it costs money, and the fact you may already own a game doesn’t make it any cheaper. For Slickdealer 4u2c, the lack of backwards compatibility is a deal breaker. But it may not be for you.

Controllers

The PS4 controller is a revolution compared to previous iterations. The grips and sticks have received a welcome redesign, leading to better overall comfort and better control over the analog sticks. The triggers are larger, which is welcome if you are a serious FPS player.

The controller also includes a touchpad, which can be used in some games with smartphone-like taps or swipes, and a Share button for accessing the system's social media functions. The controller also includes a light bar, primarily designed for use with the PlayStation camera for motion control, but the bar will change colors based on who's playing or what game is being played. It doesn't really mean much without the camera, but it looks cool.

Bottom line, the PS4 controller is a major upgrade over the PS3.

Social Media/Broadcasting

A large part of the PS4’s focus is dedicated to the more social side of gaming. If you like to broadcast or view gameplay on Twitch, then the jump to PS4 will give you a lot. You can currently broadcast your gameplay through either Twitch or Ustream.

You can also share some games with friends on the PS4, even if they don’t own the game. They can actually take over your gameplay via their system in order to get a taste of a game or, and this is Sony’s pitch, to help you through a part of the game if you’re having trouble. While I don’t really see that being a thing, it’s still a pretty cool feature.

Sony is reportedly beta testing their next major system update, 3.0, and while the official feature list has not been released, rumors include the addition of YouTube to the streaming options, as well as the ability to post game clips to Twitter. Most of the updates appear to bolster the social side of the system. This brings us to an important upgrade question: what are you friends playing? The social media aspects of the PS4 are cool, but they’ll only be useful to you if you have a community of friends who also have the system.

PlayStation Plus

PlayStation Plus was a nice optional add-on when it debuted with the PS3. It gave you new games to play for free every month and various discounts. Many of the services that Xbox required an Xbox Live subscription for, like the ability to play online, were part of the PS3 for free.

With the launch of the PS4, most of those free services, like online play, have been moved behind the paywall of PlayStation Plus. So basically, the nice optional add-on is essentially required once you upgrade to the PS4. If you’re a PS3 player who doesn’t currently use PlayStation Plus, you’ll want to include it in your cost calculations for the PS4. 

Technical Specs

The PlayStation 4 is technically superior to the PlayStation 3; that’s kind of the point of there being a PlayStation 4. However, the technical improvements are not nearly as impressive as they have been in previous console upgrades. While having 16 times the RAM of the PS3 is a significant upgrade, it may not be enough to make your decision alone.

Price

PS4 controller Retail price on the PS3 is around $249 these days, but depending on which game you want packed in, price can vary. We've seen deals around $149 with a game or two packed in, though we've also seen the price as low as $100. 

Retail price on the PS4 is $399. You can get various games packed in for the same base price, so at the very least, you’ll see the game savings. Keep your eyes open for retailers to pack in additional games, or accessories like a second controller. Some also offer PlayStation Plus subscriptions as well. Bundles are the most common way for retailers to offer promotions. You’ll end up paying a higher final price, but the bundles will still save you a lot of money if everything in the bundle is something you’re going to want to own anyway. We've seen deals as good as $319, but that's for just the console. Current bundle deals aren't going any lower than about $349. With Black Friday closer than you think, keep an eye out for a killer PS4 deal, or just set up a Deal Alert and we'll send you an email when new deals pop up.

Bottom Line

With the major games moving away from the PlayStation 3, the fact is that you will soon run out of new games to play. Unless you have access to another current gaming console, it’s probably worth keeping your eyes open for the best PS4 bundle you can find, and grabbing it when you have the chance.

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Images courtesy of Amazon.com


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About the Author
Stephen Libbey Contributor

Stephen is a veteran of the consumer electronics industry where he was a sales manager for numerous products, everything from basic stereos to whole home automation systems.  Most of the people he knows in that industry call him Dirk, but that’s not important.  He is an avid gamer, occasional podcaster, coffee snob, and watches much more TV than is probably healthy.  Today he is a freelance writer specializing in his various geek obsessions.  You can join his obsessions on Twitter, @childe_dirk

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