To Buy or Not to Buy: Why Copping a Console at Launch Is a Risky Move

To Buy or Not to Buy: Why Copping a Console at Launch Is a Risky Move

Hundreds of new PlayStation 4 owners have reported their consoles being afflicted by the blue light of death. Actually, it's a whole rainbow of ominously pulsing lights. Blue, orange, white, and red lights have all been identified with console malfunctions. 

The lights indicate a console that is down, overheating, or not connecting through HDMI output. Some gamers have reported that their new consoles failed to boot up at all, arriving DOA. 

Sony has acknowledged the problem, but no guaranteed fix has been listed. Instead, Sony has released a trouble shooting guide walking users through options that may fix the affected consoles. 

"We are aware that some people have reported issues with their PlayStation 4 systems," a Sony representative told The Huffington Post. "We are closely monitoring for additional reports, but we think these are isolated incidents and represent a very small percentage of total units shipped to consumers to date.”

That 'small percentage' of users affected? Less than 1%, but that's still 10,000 PS4s that have been purchased and shipped that exist as $400, parallelogram shaped beacons of buyer's remorse.

A comparison to the Xbox 360's red rings of death seems inevitable. Granted, the pulsing blue light hasn't reached the same pandemic levels as the 360's RROD. Hundreds of thousands of 360s were red-ringed. Some reports put the 360's failure rate as high as 54%. 

From a skeptic's vantage point, the PS4 has only been out for a week which leaves Sony plenty of time to disappoint new console owners. Hardware malfunctions, launch libraries suffering a lack of standout titles, and the cost of brand new consoles all seem like an itemized manifest of suck.Launch woes point to a larger question gamers should ask themselves before parting with their hard earned paper: 

Is Buying a Console at Launch a Chump Move?

At launch, you're buying a console at its most expensive, its glitchiest, and its most restrictive. Consider the Xbox 360 launched models at $300 and $400, and the PlayStation 3 launched at $500 and $600, and those prices are seven and eight years old, respectively. In September 2008, the Xbox 360 60GB dropped to $300. In 2009 it was reduced again to $250. And in 2010, a 4GB 360 Slim fell to $200. Black Friday is coming and you can expect that number to hit yet another low.

The price of a console is only going to depreciate as special bundles are made available post-launch, with price drops guaranteed within the months and years to come. The Xbox One initially required the Kinect to be plugged in at all times, a policy Microsoft has since amended. This should be a clear tell that Microsoft is planning on selling an Xbox One bundle sans Kinect for a lower price point in the months to come.

Both consoles suffer from initial day one restrictions that will inevitably be patched through software updates. At launch, PS4 owners are provided a basic built-in video editor, but the footage is compressed to the point of becoming hazy. Users looking to capture higher-quality footage are, for the moment, screwed, thanks to the PS4 copy-protecting digital video output. Sony has stated that a future patch will disable the copy protection, but, again, that's at some point in the future.

RELATED: Sony and the PlayStation 4: What You'll be Getting Day One (Video)

For those hoping to livestream to Twitch at launch with the Xbox One will have to wait until 2014 when Twitch Integration finally goes live. Xbox One users will still be able to watch Twitch livestreams of gameplay with the Twitch Xbox One app. The reason behind the delay?

Microsoft wants "...to ensure the initial Twitch on Xbox One broadcasting experience meets the expectations of the Twitch community, so while this feature won't be available right away, we'll let you know as soon as it is ready."

Which is commendable. Xbox One owners would rather have a finished product at a later date than a half-assed one at launch. Still, it's one more feature that you don't have access to on day one.

Combined with anemic launch titles that are mostly going to be cross-platform ports of current titles and games that are glorified tech demos meant to show off the horsepower for the new systems. In five years no one is going to be talking about Knack in much the same way no one talks about Kameo: Elements of Power.

$400 for the PS4. $500 for the Xbox One. $60 per game. Oh, there's also a good chance that your console may be about as dependable as a dumpster fire in the vacuum of deep space. 

Ubisoft's vice president of sales and marketing, Tony Key revealed why most launch titles end up feeling so lifeless compared to the consoles they're meant to showcase,

"Right now, all publishers are transitioning their development resources. For a game like Assassin's Creed: Black Flag, most of the sales are still going to be on current generation platforms. We can't make a version for PlayStation 4 or Xbox One that's so wildly different that we can't market them together."

"So, for now, developers and designers are focused on making a game that works really well on all of the systems - but as we transition resources to the next gen, it's going to be more difficult to do that because the power of these machines is going to allow so much more creativity."

RELATED: How Much Would You Pay for A PlayStation 4? Brazilians Need to Decide

After the delay of both Watchdogs and South Park: Stick of Truth to spring 2014, Ubisoft shoulder checked both the PS4 and Xbox One by denying them a highly anticipated launch title in Watchdogs. 

So what's the compulsion to cop a console on day one? Bragging rights? The technophile's love of standing in seemingly endless lines? Acquiring yet another device that streams Orange is the New Black?

Whatever your reason, we implore patience. When you purchase a console at launch, you're essentially purchasing a potential machine. Both the Xbox One and the PS4 are intended to last a full decade from their releases, if, of course, this console generation lasts that long and doesn't topple over and implode on itself like a dying star.

Cross platform, major studio titles will still be released for both the 360 and the PS3 with little difference in terms of graphics for years to come. Sure, the Xbox One and PS4 exclusives will look gorgeous, but it's going to take a few years for the machines to be utilized to their full potentials.

A few years from now both the Xbox One and the PS4, will be awash in exclusives that merit the investment of a new console. You'll be able to cop a system, for less money, alongside stronger titles that showcase the PC-level capabilities of each console. Your system will also be a more resilient one. Once launch bugs have been worked out, you'll be left with a longer-lasting system for less money.

RELATED: The 25 Most Underrated Games of the Last Generation of Consoles.

Purchasing a reduced PS3 or Xbox 360 and taking advantage of nearly half a decade worth of titles like Uncharted seems like the more prudent choice, but who's ever won a console war by being prudent. 

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