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PS Neo, Xbox Scorpio Might Make Me Buy a Gaming PC (Op-Ed)

The PlayStation 4 Neo and the Xbox Project Scorpio have been confirmed to be real, which means we'll see more powerful game consoles by the end of next year rather than in 2020.

Firm release dates and prices for the new consoles weren't announced at Sony or Microsoft's E3 press conferences yesterday (June 13), but these upgraded consoles will support 4K games and monitors, work with virtual-reality (VR) headsets and play games at smoother frame rates than the existing PS4 and Xbox One.

Credit: Nick Bush / Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Nick Bush / Tom's Guide)

That's wonderful for gamers who want their consoles to be on the cutting edge of technology, but it's not a great value if you're trading up.

MORE: The Best PC Games to Play Right Now

I've been playing video games on consoles all my life. Gaming PCs have been expensive (they still are!) and have never had the console exclusives that I wanted. But I've always assumed that my brand-new console had several years of life in it.

That's not the case anymore. Sony and Microsoft are pointing big neon signs at regular, major upgrades to keep up with each other. That means that if loyal console gamers want the newest model, they may need to buy new consoles every three to four years — twice as often as they're used to.

We're not talking about the mostly cosmetic upgrades involving smaller chassis that console gamers have come to expect. The Xbox One is currently $299, and the slimmer but otherwise mostly similar Xbox One S will be the same price. But if I buy the Scorpio and it's much more expensive (and if there's a big technical upgrade, it will be), then I'm going to be spending much more money than I'm used to in a single generation as a console gamer.

The upgrades will be to run features that gamers can already get right now with a PC. You can get the bare minimum specs for VR compatibility for less than $800. That is likely cheaper than the total credit-card bill for the PS4 you bought in 2013 and the PlayStation Neo you'll buy next year. If it's solely a value play, the PC is looking like a good investment, even if you upgrade some parts every few years.

There is another choice: keeping the console you already have. Sony and Microsoft both say that their current models will sell alongside the Neo and the Scorpio, presumably through the end of this console generation in another three to five years. The manufacturers have also promised that all eighth-generation games will be compatible with both the current systems and their upgraded siblings.

If you don't plan on upgrading to a 4K TV, are still on the fence about VR or don't care about the best possible visuals, the Xbox One and PS4 will still serve you well. (Whether Microsoft or Sony will allow exclusives for the more powerful consoles once the install bases grow is anyone's guess.) But console power users will want the best systems they can get.

PC gaming can't replace the console experience entirely. If Microsoft and Sony proved anything with their press conferences yesterday, console-exclusive games such as the Halo or God of War series are still their aces in the hole. And gaming on a PC hasn't matched the comfort of gaming on a couch, though Microsoft, Valve and a few PC makers like Alienware are doing their best to change that.

Consoles are going to become disposable to a degree, just as smartphones already are: trade your old one in and get a new one every few years. I've been on consoles my whole life and would sorely miss their ease of use and the culture that surrounds them. I'm sticking by them for now, but if they don't find ways to offer me more value, I'll consider a breakup.

When you buy your next gaming machine, it should be something with staying power and value. Those willing to sever their ties with Xbox and PlayStation and want the most bang for their buck should give a long, hard look at a gaming PC.

Keep Up with E3 on Tom's Guide

  • Donny Stanley
    I'm a PC user (and hardware reviewer) and I do not own a console and don't plan on buying one either.

    Your article misses the point of the Scorpio and Neo, almost entirely. It usesd to be that every 5-8 years, a new console generation would arrive that would break future support for the older generation, as well as compatibility with older games. It would split the player base, because you can only play with users using the same same console as you.

    However, that is not the case anymore. With the new approach, these companies can keep iterating on hardware, bringing new customers (are current ones who want an upgrade) more performance and an improved experience without breaking up the community, or breaking support. Halo 6 on Scorpio will be the same Halo 6 on Xbox One, but it'll look better. You'll play with the same players, and if you still own the Xbox One and the Scorpio, you can put them in different rooms and play the game on either one, without buying two copies.

    Your argument is "If I buy this today, in a year or two there will be something better and that hurts my feelings" That makes no sense. Buying an Xbox One S today doesn't make your purchase any less secure just because a Scorpio arrives in a year and a half.
    Reply
  • AndrewFreedman
    18122768 said:
    I'm a PC user (and hardware reviewer) and I do not own a console and don't plan on buying one either.

    Your article misses the point of the Scorpio and Neo, almost entirely. It usesd to be that every 5-8 years, a new console generation would arrive that would break future support for the older generation, as well as compatibility with older games. It would split the player base, because you can only play with users using the same same console as you.

    However, that is not the case anymore. With the new approach, these companies can keep iterating on hardware, bringing new customers (are current ones who want an upgrade) more performance and an improved experience without breaking up the community, or breaking support...

    Your argument is "If I buy this today, in a year or two there will be something better and that hurts my feelings" That makes no sense. Buying an Xbox One S today doesn't make your purchase any less secure just because a Scorpio arrives in a year and a half.

    Hi! Thanks for reading it. And for the thorough reply.

    I see where you're coming from. I am a little miffed that my $400 PS4 wont be the latest soon.

    But you'll see in the piece I mentioned keeping your existing PS4 or Xbox One to play more games in the future. I may very well do that myself until I see how it all shakes out.

    As a console gamer, my biggest thing to get used to will be the pricing. Because I'm not just a gamer, I'm a techie, and I love having the latest stuff. Admittedly, that's on me. But that's where the value question comes in.

    If I do upgrade (and again, I don't have to), it will cost a lot. To match up with what a gaming PC can already do. It's the same for all considering this upgrade.

    I'm happy gamers have choices. But this is a big shift in how consoles work from a sales perspective, and everyone should see what's best for them and their limited, hard-end funds. If a PC is the more affordable long term choice, it's a better value. If money is not an issue, you're golden. It won't stop me from gaming.
    Reply
  • Godwyn
    Andrew, I can't really agree with you here, no matter how I look at it.

    The PS Neo is effectively a pitstop before the next gen (if there is even going to be a next gen) but it's still been three years since the ps4 was released. Compare this to gaming pc upgrades which is typically 18-24 months after you first purchased the machine and you're looking at the same sort of issues mentioned in your article.

    Of course with a pc you have to actually decide what to upgrade - a decision which can greatly affect the final performance of the machine. Then once you buy the upgrade part, you have to install it yourself or pay someone to do it for you. Then there will come to a point where you have no choice but to buy a new gaming pc, well a second hand pc is difficult to get rid of, at least with the ps4 sell this pretty quickly or trade it in towards the cost of the ps neo.

    To buy the ps neo is to say that you want to play on latest that Sony has to offer, a gaming pc would potentially set you back thousands, if that is what you want; to play on the latest and greatest. Or you can buy a $800 pc and play current games..... or MAYBE just stick with the ps4? Do you see what's wrong with your logical argument here? The introduction of the ps neo has caused you to consider buying a gaming pc even though Sony have stated that the ps4 will be able to play all games that the ps neo can. My conclusion then is that the trigger for you is the fact that it's a latest iteration and you want the best - which I can guarantee you an $800 pc is not going to fill that gap for you. One, that $800 pc is basically 2 year old tech, two, there are always the people who have spend $4000+ on their gaming rigs for you to envy....

    The Pc is like the android phone, a variety of models, not 100% sure if the app you downloaded will be fully compatible but hey close enough. The console is like the iphone, you know exactly what you're getting yourself into, and you can almost guarantee that the experience will be the same for everyone with an iphone.
    Reply
  • Donny Stanley
    18122904 said:
    18122768 said:
    I'm a PC user (and hardware reviewer) and I do not own a console and don't plan on buying one either.

    Your article misses the point of the Scorpio and Neo, almost entirely. It usesd to be that every 5-8 years, a new console generation would arrive that would break future support for the older generation, as well as compatibility with older games. It would split the player base, because you can only play with users using the same same console as you.

    However, that is not the case anymore. With the new approach, these companies can keep iterating on hardware, bringing new customers (are current ones who want an upgrade) more performance and an improved experience without breaking up the community, or breaking support...

    Your argument is "If I buy this today, in a year or two there will be something better and that hurts my feelings" That makes no sense. Buying an Xbox One S today doesn't make your purchase any less secure just because a Scorpio arrives in a year and a half.

    Hi! Thanks for reading it. And for the thorough reply.

    I see where you're coming from. I am a little miffed that my $400 PS4 wont be the latest soon.

    But you'll see in the piece I mentioned keeping your existing PS4 or Xbox One to play more games in the future. I may very well do that myself until I see how it all shakes out.

    As a console gamer, my biggest thing to get used to will be the pricing. Because I'm not just a gamer, I'm a techie, and I love having the latest stuff. Admittedly, that's on me. But that's where the value question comes in.

    If I do upgrade (and again, I don't have to), it will cost a lot. To match up with what a gaming PC can already do. It's the same for all considering this upgrade.

    I'm happy gamers have choices. But this is a big shift in how consoles work from a sales perspective, and everyone should see what's best for them and their limited, hard-end funds. If a PC is the more affordable long term choice, it's a better value. If money is not an issue, you're golden. It won't stop me from gaming.

    The issue is, though. If you need to have the latest and greatest available, then buying a gaming PC will be more expensive for you. Trust me, on my platform of choice, we have graphics cards that cost up to $1,000 which are built for gaming, and new ones are released every year or so. Of course, you don't have to buy those to have an enjoyable PC experience. I'm just arguing that if you're the type of person who needs to always hit the ceiling, you're gonna be jumping up and down a lot.
    Reply
  • Shaun o
    Here`s a thought, both Sony and Microsoft, could of included a modular design for both of the consoles they currently have on the market.

    I am talking in respect to producing a console where for example the Gpu/cpu could be upgraded as an optional feature of both consoles as well as for example system memory expansion.

    So people could improve the graphics processing power and memory capacity of consoles in the same way as a PC user simply plugs in a new graphics card or extra memory via provided memory slots, or connectors.

    For cpu and Gpu upgrading, using a socket instead of soldering the chips direct to the board using a BGA package.

    They say consoles are getting more like Pc`s and the whole point of both Sony and Microsoft using the Ati based cpu package was so less work was needed to be done for creating games over cross platform.

    So why is it the case Sony and Microsoft did not go the socket based solution ? Oh yeah because they would make less money with upgrades than selling you a new complete console, where they just upgraded the Gpu and cpu capability`s plus the memory amount soldered direct to the motherboard.
    Reply
  • timbozero
    I am sorry but this is ridiculous. The cost of your new console will be less than a high end (not even flagship) graphics card for your PC, and assuming you don't sell the older model you will then have two fully compatible consoles. It will also have an upgraded CPU and memory from the (same generation) older model console (not to mention a few less notable improvements).
    'We' play on consoles not for the very best performance, we play for the comfort of a nice living room chair, a big screen (yes PCs can as well but generally have a 20-26" monitor) and for the arguably great online service and exclusives.
    Reply
  • thinsoldier
    The secret to affordable PC gaming is a do-it-yourself attitude. A junked pc from a going out of business sale plus $200 can give you something that easily plays Crysis. After that you just upgrade the videocard every 2 or 3 years until they start making games that need a new generation of CPU or your new video card needs a better power supply so you'll have to upgrade that eventually. Most people don't have that attitude obviously.
    Reply
  • Suzuki@1473780084@1473780163
    The new consoles are going to sell so well.

    People don't realise that they can sell them "cheap", because they can both take a loss for every sale without any problems, they're both giants. Sony basically owns Hollywood, and we don't know how many sister companies buy other companies and so on and so forth, but they're GIANTS, and Microsoft have Windows and other companies.

    Do people seriously think that they're going full price vs PC price/performance? Wow...

    They also make the most money on games and features, not the consoles. A gaming PC for the same price isn't going to be possible this time, and it actually wasn't when the Xbox One/PS4 came out, but it is today, which is changing again in about 1½ years from now.

    The amount of performance they're going to get out of these consoles is absolutely crazy. People should not and cannot compare the specs directly to a gaming PC.

    I find it absolutely hilarious that the console market are pushing 4k before the PC market. The key is affordable, which gaming PC's aren't.

    And yes, you definitely missed the point, by a mile. I see that as a clickbait, which is sad, because I like Tom's.
    Reply
  • HypatiaRising
    I love that people are just making massive assumptions about these new consoles prices and saying that they are pushing 4k before consoles. 4k has existed on PC for a few years now, its just that it has not been fully supported by developers because it was so niche. But a 1070 or 1080 can easily do 4k gaming. One of the big things is that when PC gamers talk about 4k, it is usually in terms of 4k on ultra at 60fps. Many cards can do 4k, but only a couple can do 4k on ultra. For comparison, the consoles cant even hit ultra equivalent settings on 1080 most the time, and thats at 30 fps.

    These consoles are not likely to do a 4k on ultra at 60fps equivalent, though it is possible. With no real information on specs (6 teraflops isnt all that illuminating) or price there really isn't much to say about these new consoles. They are interesting, but long term, PC gaming is still the most economical way to go.

    You upgrade when you WANT to. My HD 7870 which came out in 2012 is still a good card. It is still more powerful than either console. But more importantly, now that I am looking to upgrade, the only thing I really need to upgrade at this point is the GPU, everything else is still compatible and works great. Thus, even if I got the best GPU in the world right now, the Nvidia 1080, it would cost me $600 (which is overpriced right now since it just released). That 1080 in my existing system is almost certainly still significantly more powerful than the Neo or the Scorpio.

    PC gaming is all about what you want to get out of it. You can easily build a PC that is significantly better than the PS4 for the same price. But you can also get a supreme holy * build if you want. Then, when you feel like it, you can upgrade. When I upgrade my PC with the 1070 in the next 2 months, it will cost me $380 for what will likely be similar or better performance than the Neo or Scorpio. What will those new consoles cost in 18 months? They almost certainly wont be cheaper than my simple GPU upgrade.

    For those concerned about how "difficult" it is to build a PC or they think that you have to have a lot of tech know-how in general for PC gaming, its not true. I knew nothing when I built my PC and it took like an hour to get everything set up and installed. It's adult legos. And pretty much any game on PC is just a matter of selecting the game and playing. Again, you can go deeper and do other things, but YOU DONT HAVE TO. If you just wanna play your games, its every bit as easy to do just that. Meanwhile, you now also have a PC that is great for a million other purposes outside of gaming.

    Also, I hear Steam Sales are pretty baller.

    <Language, please>
    Reply
  • HypatiaRising
    18124331 said:
    I am sorry but this is ridiculous. The cost of your new console will be less than a high end (not even flagship) graphics card for your PC, and assuming you don't sell the older model you will then have two fully compatible consoles. It will also have an upgraded CPU and memory from the (same generation) older model console (not to mention a few less notable improvements).
    'We' play on consoles not for the very best performance, we play for the comfort of a nice living room chair, a big screen (yes PCs can as well but generally have a 20-26" monitor) and for the arguably great online service and exclusives.

    Considering we know very little about the new consoles, saying really anything about what they will be is nonsense. I can say that I can upgrade my existing PC with just a gpu purchase of the 1070 (second best gpu out right now in terms of performance) and almost certainly match or exceed the neo/scorpio performance. The kicker? I can do so for $380 18 months earlier. My initial entry into PC gaming happened 3 years ago, and it was more expensive initially(~600), but it was also more powerful (My 7870 is about 40% more powerful than a ps4). Now I will likely be able to upgrade and stay ahead of the curve for less. Sounds pretty economical to me, and that's before you get to all the game deals you can get on pc with Steam sales an such.

    Also, you CAN pc game on your couch. My PC was hooked up to my TV until recently. Not as great for RTS games, but console games still play every bit as well for obvious reasons.
    Reply