The PS5 and Xbox Series X are the most sought-after gadgets of the year, and they’re both nearly impossible to buy anywhere. You’ve probably spent many an afternoon frantically refreshing multiple browser tabs to no avail, getting increasingly frustrated at your chances of joining the next generation of gaming. But it’s time to put your credit card down and take a break.
The latest Sony and Microsoft consoles are excellent, delivering some of the best visuals, performance and load times we’ve seen from console gaming. But there are plenty of reasons you should skip the hysteria of trying to buy one during this hectic launch window, and there’s no shortage of great alternatives to the PS5 and Xbox Series X. Here’s why you can wait on the next-gen console craze.
Whether you buy a PS5 or Xbox Series X, you won’t be playing many games that you can’t already play on other platforms. The PS5 has some compelling true exclusives in Demon’s Souls and Astro’s Playroom, but the former is a remake of a beloved 2009 action game, and the latter is a delightful but short pack-in platformer. Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Sackboy: A Big Adventure are two of the PS5’s flagship games, but you can also get them on PS4.
This argument holds even more true for the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, which currently don’t have a single game in their lineup that you can’t also play on your Xbox One or PC. And nearly all of this year’s big third-party releases, including Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Watch Dogs: Legion and Cyberpunk 2077, are available on PS4 and Xbox One, complete with free next-gen upgrade options for whenever you do make the switch. Sure, these titles will look and run better on next-gen hardware, but you can play them right now on the console you currently own without scrambling to splurge on a PS5 or Xbox Series X.
If you’re new to console gaming, you could try to score a PS4 or Xbox One and save yourself some cash in the process. The previous-generation consoles aren’t very easy to find these days either, but you can currently find the $299 PS4 Slim at Walmart and the $399 PS4 Pro at GameStop. Xbox One models are harder to come by, but you can score a refurbished $369 Xbox One X model from GameStop. We’d recommend holding out for the new consoles if you’re in this camp, but these options exist if you’re in a pinch.
As with any shiny new gadget, being an early adopter during a brand-new console generation can come with a price. Current PS5 and Xbox Series X owners have already reported a litany of issues, from random shutdowns to issues transferring data. These things generally get patched over time, meaning the new consoles will likely be much less prone to failure by the time you actually get your hands on one.
Also, if history is any indicator, these might not be the last versions of the PS5 and Xbox Series X we see on store shelves. Nearly every home console released in the past 15 years or so has gotten some sort of hardware refresh during its life cycle, usually with slimmer designs and sometimes cheaper prices. Sony and Microsoft took things even further last generation with the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, which delivered increased performance and 4K gaming support a few years after the original consoles launched.
As such, don’t be surprised to see even better — and better-looking — versions of the latest PlayStation and Xbox machines a few years from now. Heck, we’d pay up just for a PS5 Slim that shaves down Sony’s absolutely monstrous design.
There are plenty of great alternatives to the PS5 and Xbox Series X, whether you want something to tide you over until stock comes back or want to skip the new consoles altogether.
PC gaming is becoming more mainstream than ever, and if you’re willing to invest in a solid gaming computer, you’ll be able to enjoy many of the benefits of next-gen consoles and so much more. For example, the popular Alienware Aurora can be configured to deliver a comparable 4K gaming experience to the PS5 and Xbox Series X — complete with the new Nvidia RTX 3070 graphics card — for around $1,600 to $1,800.
That’s a big investment, but you’re also getting a full Windows computer that can be used for working, video editing, web surfing and just about anything else. And if value is a concern, the system’s starting $909 configuration will still deliver solid performance for most mainstream games (just don’t expect to play at 4K).
Getting a good PC also opens you up to the biggest library of games out there. You can get modern blockbusters such as Doom Eternal, Cyberpunk 2077 and Star Wars: Squadrons, or dip into decades of gaming history with classics like Half-Life and Quake. And with multiple storefronts such as Steam, Epic Games Store and Origin, PC gaming offers lots of choice — and lots of opportunities to save on games during frequent sales.
You could also go the opposite route and pick up a Nintendo Switch. The $299 Switch remains a no-brainer for just about anyone who enjoys games, with a versatile design that doubles as both a home console for the TV and a handheld system for when you’re on the go. There’s also the $199 Nintendo Switch Lite if you want a cheaper, handheld-only experience. These systems don’t come close to the PS5 and Xbox Series X in terms of sheer performance and fidelity, but they feature one of the best game libraries you can find on any platform.
Nintendo’s console is home to all-time essentials such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey and Animal Crossing: New Horizons as well as beloved third-party titles like Minecraft, Skyrim, Rocket League and Hades. And if you’re looking to get a console for a younger gamer, the Switch’s relatively affordable price tag and abundance of kid-friendly games might make it a better pick than the PS5 or Xbox Series X.
If you’d rather get lost in virtual reality than sit in front of a TV, you can pick up the excellent $299 Oculus Quest 2 for the price of an Xbox Series S. This all-in-one VR headset is fully standalone, meaning you don’t need to set up any pesky wires or sensors (or have a powerful PC) to get sucked into great games like Beat Saber, Superhot VR and Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge.
Finally, there are cloud gaming services that allow you to stream lots of big blockbuster titles on the screens you already own. One of the biggest players in this space is Google Stadia, which allows you to buy popular games like Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate and Watch Dogs: Legion and play them on your laptop, phone or Chromecast Ultra via the cloud. Amazon is also entering the cloud arena with Amazon Luna, which allows you to subscribe to specific “channels” that start at $5.99 per month and get access to major games like Control, Sonic Mania and Metro Exodus on your computer, iOS device or Fire TV player.
And if you’re looking for an affordable substitute to the Xbox Series X, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is well worth a look. This subscription service lets you stream nearly 200 top games, including Gears 5, Batman: Arkham Knight and Minecraft Dungeons, directly to your Android phone or tablet for $15 per month. Game Pass Ultimate is an especially good value if you also have an Xbox One or PC, as you’ll be able to download and play hundreds of top console and Windows games as well.
Cloud gaming has its caveats — you’ll need a solid Wi-Fi or cellular connection for smooth gaming, and even then you may notice some latency compared to playing on a console. But these services are a great way to try out big blockbuster games without forking out a ton of cash upfront.
The PS5 and Xbox Series X are both superb gaming consoles — and they’ll only be better by the time you finally get your hands on one. Don’t panic if you’re not able to find one right away, because there’s plenty of great stuff to play in the meantime on the hardware you already have.
The PS4 and Xbox One will continue to get great new games over the next year and beyond, allowing you to build up a library that you’ll eventually be able to carry over to your PS5 or Xbox Series X. And it’s well worth considering the many great alternatives out there, whether you want to dive into the vast world of PC gaming or give cloud streaming a go.
Either way, don’t let the hysteria around trying to find a PS5 or Xbox Series X distract you from the many excellent games you can be playing right now.