It’s easy to get sucked into the frenetic shiny-new-thing buying cycle—especially when it comes to gaming. Nintendo’s Wii U is in the wild, and thanks to Microsoft and Sony, there’s a powerful new generation of consoles right around the corner. The graphics are going to blow your mind, the games look epic, and you should form your allegiance and pre-order immediately … right?
Not so fast. Your “old” gaming hardware has tons of life in it yet. No matter which system’s flag you’re flying, here are some big reasons you should be looking back, not forward.
1. Older Games Are Way, Way Cheaper
The last new game I bought was Borderlands 2 for the Xbox 360, which I was really looking forward to at the time. I paid about $60 for an unopened copy on launch day. Almost a year later, it’s still unplayed and worth a tiny sliver of what I paid for it.
It takes time to play games—sometimes a lot of time. Buy a game new and by the time you’ve finished its 30+ hour campaign (200+ hours if we’re talking RPGs), the title will have lost most of its buzz—and its resale value. If you aren’t the collecting type, there’s no sense in hanging onto a game after you’re done with it. Any way you cut it, playing the latest games on the latest and greatest console a very expensive hobby.
Think how many unexplored worlds and unconquered conquerable things are out there in older games, just waiting for you to explore them and/or slay them dead. A ton, that’s how many.
2. Forgotten Hardware Is More Hackable
Sometimes when an old system is left high and dry by its creator, it’s actually a good thing. The Wii is a perfect example of an older console that’s got plenty of life left in it thanks to this. Now that Nintendo has moved on with its current-gen Wii U (and dropped most of the original Wii’s network support), the company is no longer concerned with defending it against soft-mods and hacks that expand the old system’s utility considerably.
Hacking the more sophisticated hardware of an Xbox 360 or PS3 isn’t impossible, but it isn’t for the faint of heart. (Disclaimer: Any of this voids your warranty, don’t try it if you’re in over your head, etc.) And this phenomenon isn’t unique to console gaming—it goes for mobile gaming too. You can do a lot with a jailbroken iPhone or iPad. Apple tweaks iOS with incremental updates that plug up holes for would-be jailbreakers. An older version of iOS is much more friendly to your interest in thrusting open the gates to Apple’s high-walled garden.
3. Go To Retro Gaming Heaven
Console modding and iOS jailbreaking both open up a glorious portal to retro gaming: Emulators. Emulators are virtual consoles that run adapted, virtual copies of games, known as ROMs. With emulators, you can play old NES and SNES games on something like a Wii without re-buying them virtually through Nintendo. Heck, you can even play Sega, PlayStation 1 and Nintendo DS games on the thing.
No, we’re not endorsing rampant, thoughtless piracy … but emulators are really the only way to port the older games you love onto the system you want to play them on.
4. Find Crazy Good Deals
Whether it’s consoles, smartphones or tablets, people tend to totally freak out the moment new hardware is announced. Use your patience to prey on the weak. Check Craigslist and eBay for absurd deals, like the like-new Wii I snagged a few weeks ago for $30.
The dawn of a new console is a great time to stock up your gaming catalogue. If you’ve ever considered collecting games, look for people liquidating their assets and selling off entire collections in bulk. And keep your eyes peeled for rare games and special edition hardware. Considering the steep price of Sony and Microsoft’s new consoles ($500 and $400, respectively, before extra controllers, etc.), budget-minded gamers will continue to offload their current-gen goods like there’s no tomorrow.
5. Skip Early Adopter Pitfalls
Microsoft and Sony’s unreleased new consoles are looking more equally matched now, but the tide can change quickly. Both consoles will be playgrounds for next-generation online gaming, which is increasingly a cornerstone of new titles. If you’re planning on choosing between the two, hold off for a while. Squeeze a little more life out of that now “ancient” gaming system. Play the stuff you missed along the way. Check out quirky indie titles that you didn’t quite get to.
You’ll have a much clearer picture of the Xbox One vs. the PlayStation 4 once they’re both out there in the wild. And you’ll see which console gets the most traction from the gamers you know and play with—you all are in it for the long haul, after all.
But for now, sit back and enjoy the past. There’s plenty of life to wring out of that old hardware yet.
Nintendo Wii image via Flickr user tico_24, CC 2.0