How to Shop for Gaming Deals

How to Shop for Gaming Deals

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How to shop for deals on gaming consoles

We expect to see new consoles from Microsoft and Sony during the 2020 holiday season, so if you can, you should wait until they drop in price instead of spending cash on the current generation of consoles. And now that Amazon has reportedly pushed Prime Day 2020 from July to September (or October), we expect to see even lower pricing on the current models.

But if you’re stuck inside and want to start gaming right away, we’ll likely see deals on existing consoles throughout the year. Wirecutter Deals editor Nathan Burrow says currently aging models will probably be offered for cheaper than ever before as 2020 progresses. And according to Wirecutter editor Thorin Klosowski, “Buying this late in the console cycle means you get access to huge libraries of games at affordable prices.”

You have relatively straightforward options if you’re shopping for a PlayStation 4: the standard PlayStation 4 and the slightly more powerful PlayStation 4 Pro. Both can play any PS4 game (there are no Pro-only titles, and Sony has said there won’t be) as well as Blu-ray movies, but only the PS4 Pro can output in 4K, Thorin says. Both feature a 1 TB hard drive, and you can easily upgrade either model to a larger drive without violating your warranty.

Like the PS4, there are two versions of the Xbox One: the standard Xbox One S and the more powerful Xbox One X. While both models can output 4K video content (streaming and Ultra HD Blu-rays), only the beefier One X can support true 4K gameplay. With an improved processor, extra memory, and a better GPU, the One X is significantly more powerful than the One S, and it really shows when you play. You definitely get more out of the Xbox One X with a 4K TV or monitor, but they’re not required to enjoy good movies and games. There’s also a slight cosmetic difference, as the Xbox One X is black and somewhat larger than the white Xbox One S (and the Xbox One X is quieter).

If you’re worried about losing out by buying PS4 or Xbox games right before a new hardware release, there’s no need to fret: Both the upcoming Xbox Series X and PS5 will be backward compatible (to an extent). Xbox has committed to large-scale compatibility that reaches as far back as the original Xbox games. Meanwhile, PlayStation says that “the overwhelming majority of the 4,000+ PS4 titles will be playable on PS5.”

Nathan also predicts that, due to stock issues across the country, we’ll see more deals on digital gaming offerings in the run-up to Prime Day 2020.

Nintendo Switch consoles have also been hard to get ahold of due to stock issues. Thorin advises purchasing the standard Nintendo Switch rather than the handheld-only Switch Lite, but you might consider settling for the Switch Lite if you want to play now. If you can wait until Nintendo’s stock is replenished, we prefer the Nintendo Switch: It has a larger screen than the Switch Lite as well as more features, like removable Joy-Con controllers and the ability to connect to your TV. However, Thorin also notes that the cheaper Switch Lite is a good option if you’re shopping for someone who plans to use the Switch only when they’re on the move, since you can’t connect it to a TV at all.

If you’re shopping for one of Nintendo’s older handhelds, you can still find the 3DS XL, 2DS, and 2DS XL in stores. The 2DS XL is our favorite, since it has the nice clamshell design of the 3DS XL but forgoes the gimmicky 3D features, which saves you some money. These models might be dated, but they’re a great choice for younger gamers. Parents will appreciate the vast library of quality, kid-friendly titles that are available for a fraction of the price of new games on the Switch, Xbox, and PlayStation.

Should you buy just the console, or the bundle?

These days, game consoles often come with a free game in the box, usually in the form of a download code (though it’s not unheard of to find a great bundle that includes physical disks). During sales, it’s common to see retailers toss in an additional game or two to sweeten the deal.

Before you bite on a bundle deal, check the price of the system and make sure you’re not paying more for a game you don’t really want. Stores may claim that the extra game is valued at $60, but if it’s been on sale for a few months, you might be able to get it separately for $20. At that point, if the bundle is $40 more than the standalone console, you’d be overpaying.

Buy accessories and subscriptions instead of games

The best bundle extras to look out for are controllers, since they don’t regularly drop in price the way games do. If you can get a DualShock 4 controller for the PlayStation 4 or an Xbox One controller for less than $35, go for it. Likewise, if you spot the normally pricey Nintendo Switch Pro Controller on sale for around $50, you should jump on it.

The same goes for annual subscriptions to PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold. If you can buy either for $40 or less, you’re getting a great deal—and this year, Nathan thinks we’ll continue to see one-year membership subscriptions to PlayStation Plus on sale for less than $40. By opting to invest in subscriptions instead of physical games, you’re not forgoing the games altogether: Many subscriptions offer discounted or free game downloads on a monthly basis.

However, Wirecutter editor Arthur Gies suggests looking at subscription game passes as an alternative to yearly memberships. “These subscriptions allow players to download and play all of the games from a catalog that changes and grows over time—as some games leave, new games appear,” he writes in our guide to last-minute video game gifts. If you want to skip the Xbox Live or PS+ memberships, Arthur says the Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Now are great substitutes, since they offer hundreds of on-demand games for a nominal fee.

How to shop for deals on PC-gaming upgrades

Good deals on gaming laptops and other prebuilt systems are usually few and far between, but you can occasionally find discounts on parts like RAM and processors, some of which can make a real impact on your PC’s performance. If you’re buying additional RAM, be sure to match the type of memory already in your system. Likewise, if you’re replacing all of your RAM, make sure it’s compatible with your system, and that there’s enough room for the new RAM in your case. The best way to confirm that your new RAM—or any other upgrade you’re considering—is compatible is to plug your current components into the build tool at PCPartPicker. It’ll help you filter out any non-compatible component in its database.

For PC gamers, few components matter more than the graphics card, but if you don’t have 16 GB of fast RAM and an SSD yet, make those your priority. If you still have 8 GB of RAM and use a 5400 RPM hard drive, no other upgrade will provide a bigger boost. Our SSD picks have trended upward in price in recent months, and we’ve seen fewer sales—but by the time Prime Day rolls around in September, we expect that the demand driving the increases will have dwindled enough that we’ll see some nice deals from Amazon. Wirecutter senior staff writer Andrew Cunningham says that 500 GB and 1 TB drives not only provide the best value for your money but also have enough space to store plenty of games.

Source: NY Times – Wirecutter
Keyword: How to Shop for Gaming Deals

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