Posted August 5, 2020 by Andrew Cathie in Feature
 
 

You Should Never Buy A New Console At Launch


As someone that has bought multiple consoles at launch, I think you should never buy a new console at launch. New generations of consoles mean new experiences, but they also mean new problems, some of which may not become apparent until a while after launch. You’re entering at the most expensive point, with the least assurance and therefore when there’s the most risk that things can go wrong. Why should you avoid buying a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X at launch?

Price

The beginning of a new generation is when consoles are at their most expensive. It makes sense, the product has just launched and demand is high, so there’s no deals at that time. The price won’t get any higher (unless you buy from third party scalpers), but there’s the potential that the price will soon drop after launch. While the 3DS is a drastic example of that, with its price plummeting by $80 USD mere months after launch, it’s incredibly common to see console bundles with games or a slightly lower price by the end of the first year of the generation. By buying at launch, you’re literally getting the worst possible deal on your console.

Hardware Defects

What else do you have no way of knowing at launch? If there are going to be widespread defects or issues at a hardware level. A repeat of the Red Ring of Death seems unlikely, but joy-con drift and other hardware issues have reared their heads over the years. None of these were identifiable at launch, but all have frustrated those who had them, sometimes with resistance from console manufacturers when it comes to free repairs. By waiting on buying a console, there’s a bit of time for any inherent issues to appear before you jump in, minimising they risk of problems you’ll face.

Game Droughts

This one’s pretty self explanatory, but I have yet to see a generation that didn’t have some form of drought in the first year after release. Developing games for a new generation is hard, and if you miss the extremely tight deadline of launch day, there’s little reason to not push your game back to the holiday season of that year. Some games might even be outright cancelled or just disappear into the ether, just like Megaman Legends 3 or Deep Down. By holding off on buying a console, you avoid these droughts, instead building a small backlog of games that can keep you entertained in any further droughts.

Hardware Revisions

As we’ve seen with just about every generation of consoles in history, hardware revisions are just a matter of when, and not if. You know a hardware revision will come and that it will likely improve on the original console in some way, shape or form. It might be smaller and quieter like the PlayStation 4 Slim, it might be a little bit more powerful like the Xbox One S or it might add some new connectivity options the original release was missing like when the Xbox 360 added HDMI connectivity. All you need to do is wait and you’ll get a better, likely more reliable, and definitely cheaper version of the console you want.

These are some compelling reasons to avoid a console launch, especially when many of these reasons simply require waiting 9-12 months after launch. What do you miss out on by skipping a launch? Not much. You obviously won’t get to play some games at launch, but given the number of cross-generation titles being announced, that number will be lower than ever. You also don’t get to be part of that initial zeitgeist, but given the benefits you’re reaping, I think that’s a pretty reasonable price to pay.

I say all of this as someone that will jump on next generation at launch because I have to. If I want to continue reviewing games into the next generation, I’m all but required to pony up the cash and get in early. If it wasn’t for that however, I wouldn’t be touching this coming generation of consoles until Holiday 2021. I’d have a few different games to play and catch up on, I’d likely get the console and a couple of games for the same price I’d have paid for just the console at launch, and everyone else will have effectively tested the hardware reliability out for me already. Weighting up the risks and benefits, you should never buy a new console at launch.


Andrew Cathie

 
Rocket Chainsaw's premier Fantasy-loving Editor. I basically play anything and everything that looks like it could be fun or interesting.