While the PlayStation 5 is the fresh and exciting console, the PlayStation 4 is still on the market. The question is, should you buy a PS4 in 2021?
Let’s look at some of the reasons that buying a PS4 still might be worthwhile for you, along with some cautions about buying the console late into its life.
It’s difficult to give an exact price for the PS4 at this time, due to supply chain issues and varied bundles/deals across retailers. However, in general, the sticker price of the PS4 Slim is $300, while the PS4 Pro is $400.
The major difference between these is that the PS4 Pro can play games at 4K resolution due to its more powerful hardware. Unfortunately, Sony hasn’t dropped the price of either system after the launch of the PS5.
In contrast, the PS5 Digital Edition (which lacks a disc drive) is $400, while the standard PS5 is $500. Pricing aside, there are still reasons to consider a PS4 if you can’t find a PS5 (or just don’t want to go next-gen yet).
It’s no secret that the PS4 grants you access to a vast catalog of games. This includes the best PS4 exclusives like God of War and Ratchet & Clank, third-party titans like Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed, indie games, and remasters of classic PlayStation games.
If you don’t already have another console or a gaming PC, the PS4 still provides a great way to play tons of games. However, the PS4 is a harder sell in 2021 if you’re primarily looking for exclusives.
Thankfully, the PS5 is backward-compatible and thus able to play almost every PS4 title. This means if you own a digital game on PS4 (or a PS4 disc and the standard PS5), you can play it on your PS5 while taking advantage of the more powerful hardware.
If you missed out on the PS4, the PlayStation Plus Collection is an even more attractive perk. This benefit, available to all PS Plus subscribers who have a PS5, gives access to several top PS4 games like Persona 5, Resident Evil 7, and Bloodborne at no additional charge.
PlayStation Plus costs $60/year, making it an additional cost to consider. But if you want to play a lot of these titles, waiting for a PS5 and subscribing to Plus is more cost-effective than getting a PS4 and buying them individually.
PS4 games run faster on PS5, thanks to its built-in SSD. Just keep in mind that the PS5 comes with a limited 825GB of storage, so those PS4 games will add up quickly.
Also, PlayStation Now is available on PC and allows you to stream many top PS4 (and earlier) titles on your computer, as long as you have a decent PC and internet connection. So if you already have a PC and just want to try a few exclusive games, a PS4 might not be worth it for you.
In January 2021, Sony Japan confirmed that it was ceasing production of almost all PS4 models. This was unexpected, since the company had earlier claimed it would support the PS4 for several years.
This means that if you want to buy a new PS4, you should do so quickly. Once the existing supply dries up, it will be difficult to find one. But if you do get a PS4 now, how long should you expect game support to last? To estimate, we can look back at the last console generation.
The PlayStation 3 was released in 2006 and discontinued in 2016 in North America. It received cross-generation titles until the end of its life. For example, 2015’s Call of Duty: Black Ops III was the last Call of Duty title released for the system, though it was a watered-down version with no campaign mode.
This was similar for exclusive games. MLB The Show 16 was the final PS3 version of the yearly series published by Sony. Prior to this, 2014’s LittleBigPlanet 3 was the last major Sony-published title on the system.
The PS4 arrived in 2013, when the PS3 was seven years old. Since the PS5 launched in 2020, this puts the PS4 on the same timeline as last generation—though the existence of the PS4 Pro (launched in 2016) complicates this a bit.
Sony has confirmed that Horizon Forbidden West will release on PS4 in 2021. However, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, another upcoming 2021 title, is PS5-only.
We would thus expect the PS4 to receive cross-platform titles through 2022 or early 2023. Don’t expect any major Sony-published games on the system after 2021. The PS4 Pro may receive a different treatment, however.
Looking at all these considerations, is the PS4 worth buying right now? It depends on your situation.
If you want to play a lot of titles that are available on PS4 and don’t have another game console, then the PS4 is still a good buy. The PS4 Pro is more future-proofed, but since its price is close to a PS5, we’d recommend sticking to a PS4 Slim. If you do buy a PS4, consider buying a second-hand model from a reputable seller to bring the cost down.
With a PS4, you can still enjoy cross-play with PS5 players in many games. Plus, you can take most of your games with you when you upgrade to a PS5 (either through backward compatibility or free upgrade offers).
If you see yourself buying a PS5 in the next year, we’d recommend waiting for that instead. It doesn’t make much sense to spend $300 on a PS4 now, only to spend $500 on a PS5 shortly after. In the meantime, you might consider trying a few games using PS Now on your PC.
If you’re not interested in PlayStation exclusives at all, consider a Nintendo Switch instead. That system is four years old, but it offers a lot for $300. You get a system that you can play at home or on the go with a wide variety of first-party Nintendo titles, plus third-party ports and indie games.
The Switch will likely receive support for longer than the PS4; just keep in mind that it’s not as powerful. As a result, cross-platform games like Doom Eternal and Overwatch are not as smooth on Switch.
As we’ve seen, there are some situations where it makes sense to buy a PS4 right now. But if you don’t fall into them, it’s smarter to wait for a PS5 instead of paying for an older system.
Buying a modern console, especially once more games arrive for it, is a better investment of your money. It just requires a little patience for now.
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