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Old school still cool for some gamers

Courtesy of Microsoft.

By Marc S. Witkin, Point Park News Service:

Malik Cosby would love to have the new Sony PlayStation 4 game console, but he doesn’t see the point of rushing to get one when so many quality games and systems already exist at a much cheaper price.

Cosby, 23, of the West End, has its predecessor, the PS3, and he recently bought a $25 Nintendo GameCube just for fun. The game he really wants does not come out on the new machine until March anyway.

“I’d love a PlayStation 4, but as of right now, I just don’t need one,” Cosby said. “Ever since they pushed Watch Dogs back until March there isn’t really a game out for PS4 at the beginning that makes me need one. “

Recent launches of new gaming consoles, including Microsoft’s Xbox One, have some hardcore fans waiting in line and cashing out hundreds of dollars for the machines and new games. But more than a few people like Cosby see opportunity in scooping up older systems and titles that others are leaving behind.

Despite the new hardware, the older Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 combined for nearly 2 million units sold worldwide in November, according to sales data from

More than 6.6 million games for the two older systems were sold in the last week of November alone. Both older platforms have been promised versions of many popular upcoming titles through 2014, including the highly anticipated Metal Gear Solid V, giving budget gamers comfort in waiting to upgrade.

To put the savings into perspective, if you can even manage to find a PS4 in stores, it costs $400 new in the box, while  an Xbox One and its included Kinect camera costs $500. Games for the systems retail at $59.99, with few cheap used copies.

A used PS3 – even the newest “Super-Slim” model — goes for as little as $100 on eBay. An Xbox 360 can be found for $80. Retro gamers can snatch a used GameCube on eBay with a bundle of games and controllers for about $50.

That’s not to say there’s no demand for the new systems. Sony says it has sold more than 2 million units of the PlayStation 4, while Microsoft said its Xbox One has sold more than 1 million units over a slightly shorter time.

For some gamers like Bill Hench, waiting is just simply too much to ask. He was at GameStop in Oakland for the Xbox One’s midnight launch in November.

“I’m an Xbox gamer primarily,” Hench said. “I try to get all the systems and play everything, rather just blindly ride some bandwagon. But I just prefer Xbox. Everything I’ve bought from them has just been a little smoother, with an online experience that feels more polished.”

Hench, 34, lives in South Side Slopes, and describes himself as someone who’s “been gaming since the Atari 2600.” Despite the Xbox One’s infancy, he feels confident in its potential based on the games that are available.

A million buyers rushed to get the PlayStation 4 -- but many playing the PS3 say they're willing to wait. Courtesy of Sony.
A million buyers rushed to get the PlayStation 4 — but many playing the PS3 say they’re willing to wait. Courtesy of Sony.

“My first game will definitely be Forza Motorsport 5,” Hench said, referring to the newest entry in the popular Xbox-exclusive racing game series. “I wish Titanfall was out. I’m super excited for that, but I think Forza will be a great place to start.”

Luis Damian, a 21-year-old University of Pittsburgh student living in Oakland, said he is excited for the new generation of Xbox too, and was lined up next to Hench to get one.

“I’ve been an Xbox fan for a while,” Damian said. “Even though they did have that backtracking with the banning of used games and stuff, I didn’t really care because I was already set on getting an Xbox One. For me, I think it’s more like a fan thing: Once you’re set one something, you stick with it.”

Many of the more popular games available at launch for the PS4 and Xbox One, such as Assassin’s Creed IV, NBA 2k14, and Call of Duty: Ghosts, are just graphically updated versions of games that were already available on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. And that trend will likely continue for some time.

Some gamers said this gives them little reason to upgrade their hardware, because they aren’t missing out on their favorite software yet. Because these older versions are currently selling better than their next-generation counterparts, they also benefit from much larger online communities.

“I’ll probably buy a PS4 eventually,” Ben DiGregorio said. “But realistically, it’s not worth the $400 right now, just to play a slightly prettier Call of Duty.”

DiGregorio, 23, of Point Breeze, cited the small amount of unique launch games and the lack of desired features as his reasons for keeping his distance from the new game consoles.

“The only game I really have time for is Call of Duty,” DiGregorio said. “But I’m still enjoying the hell out of CoD: Black Ops II, so I don’t even plan to buy the new one, and if I did, I’d just get the PS3 version anyway. Both of the new systems lack USB media playback and backwards compatibility, two things that really lowered my interest in them.”

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