So you’re incredibly excited for the new PlayStation 5/Xbox Series X-S (delete whichever is inappropriate). But apparently, they’ve made about a dozen each of these new world-conquering game machines, because you can’t find one for launch day. You’re not alone: all the new consoles have been plagued with low stock and pre-orders. So what’s to be done?
You have a few options. Not great options, mind you: you’re going to have to either find some way to cope with the wait or spend a lot of money to avert it. But just so you know what they are, let’s walk through them.
Catch Up on Old Games
The release of a new console is a fabulous time to catch up on the last one, assuming that you have it. So if you can’t get a new PS5 or Xbox Series, why not go through the catalog of the PS4 and the Xbox One to see what you’ve missed in the last seven years?
The PlayStation 4 has a fantastic selection of platform exclusive titles, and the Xbox One also has games. Ahem. The PS4 has a pretty clear winner in terms of the games that can only be played there, especially since the games that are exclusive to the Xbox One tend to come out on PC as well. But even so, with such a long console generation, there’s bound to be plenty that you missed in terms of both exclusives and multi-platform releases.
We’ve cataloged the best exclusives for the Xbox One and PS4 right here on Review Geek. If you don’t have a current console (or you only have one or the other and no gaming PC), you might take advantage of the low prices on last-gen consoles and just go to town. However many games you’ve played, there are enough good ones that you haven’t that you could easily be entertained for a year or more.
Buy Games with Free Upgrades
Okay, so you’re set on getting a new PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X or S (God, Microsoft is so terrible at branding!), but you still want stuff to play in the meantime. If you’d like to spend your money in the most strategic way possible, try focusing on games that get a guaranteed upgrade to a new-and-improved version for the next generation.
These games aren’t just guaranteed to be backward compatible on the new hardware, they come with a free download for a new version that will actually take advantage of the capabilities of the next generation. (Hopefully. Developers sometimes get a little slapdash on those ported games.) In a bid to make sure games still sell, several of the titles released at the tail end of the current generation have made this commitment.
Here are all the games confirmed to come with a free upgrade from the PS4 or Xbox One to the PS5 and/or Xbox Series X/S:
- The Ascent – Xbox only
- Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla
- Borderlands 3
- Call of the Sea – Xbox only
- Chivalry 2
- Control Ultimate Edition (not the original version!)
- Cyberpunk 2077
- Dead by Daylight
- Destiny 2
- Dirt 5
- Doom Eternal
- Fable 4 – Xbox only
- Far Cry 6
- FIFA 21
- Gears 5 – Xbox only
- Halo Infinite – Xbox only
- Hitman 3 (digital sales only)
- Horizon Forbidden West – PS5 only
- Immortals: Fenyx Rising
- Kena: Bridge of Spirits – PS5 only
- Madden NFL 21
- Marvel’s Avengers
- Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales – PS5 only
- The Medium – Xbox only
- Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom
- Mortal Kombat 11
- RIDE 4
- Riders Republic
- Sackboy: A Big Adventure – PS5 only
- Sea of Thieves – Xbox only
- Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2
- Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege
- The Elder Scrolls Online
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
- Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines 2
- Watch Dogs Legion
- WRC 9
- Yakuza: Like A Dragon
Other games may be added later, and the PS5 and Xbox Series will probably be backward compatible with some of the games you already own.
If you were hoping to buy a new console in order to give as a holiday gift…well, you might be out of luck. But if that holiday morning (or the morning of the shipping deadline) dawns, and you don’t have a console in hand, you can always just give your recipient the equivalent of the console’s purchase price in cash.
Okay, maybe not actual cash, since it’s not great to send it in the mail, and in-person celebrations this year are going to be non-existent for many people. Maybe a personal check, or a gift card to the recipient’s favorite electronics retailer (Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, whatever), or best of all: a prepaid debit card that can be used anywhere.
The point is that you want to give someone a PS5 or Xbox Series Whatever, but you can’t. If you give them the money to go buy it themselves whenever that becomes possible, they’ll still think of you when they do it. If your recipient is a gamer, they almost certainly have games to keep them occupied in the meantime.
Brave the Secondary Market
If you’re desperate, either on your own behalf or for that special someone, you can try to find a PlayStation or Xbox from a secondary seller. eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, the vector really doesn’t matter: you’re going to be paying hundreds of dollars above the retail price, no matter where you go.
Be aware that in-demand holiday gifts have been a target for scalpers and scammers for all of living memory. If you’re arranging a buy in person, choose someplace to meet with lots of foot traffic. Bring a friend if you can, and inspect the merchandise inside the box before you hand over any cash. If you’re buying online, don’t buy from new sellers without a reputation, and use a service with fraud protection, like PayPal.
This obviously isn’t a great choice. But as they say, time is money, and you can trade the latter for the former. A lot of it.
Maybe Just Chill?
As someone who’s been playing video games for decades, take a hint from me: the launch of a new console is almost never a great time to actually buy one. Most launch games are designed to show off hardware capabilities and little else—it takes months or years before the really great games hit the platform. The rest of them are just ports of existing games from the older consoles.
If you wait into the first half of 2021, you’ll be able to buy a new PlayStation or Xbox at a reasonable price, and you’ll have a much wider selection of games to play when you do.