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Now's the Best Time to Buy PS3 or Xbox 360

Why older consoles are still good

Updated to include the $200 PlayStation 3 now available in the U.S. on 8/19/2013 at 10:40 am.
Have you ordered a next-generation gaming console? The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are set to hit shelves this fall, and retailers have already had to resupply several times to keep up with demand.

But buying a just-released console isn't always smart. In fact, if you're looking for a gaming console —particularly if you're new to gaming in general or console gaming, in particular — you might actually want to buy a current generation machine.

Why? For one, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 have never been cheaper, and they'll only drop in price in the coming months, particularly during and after the holiday season, when all the focus will be on the new consoles.

But there are even more reasons why you should consider buying a current-generation gaming console, such as more-reliable hardware and a better selection of games.

Newer isn't always better

It's been seven years since the PlayStation 3 came out and eight years since the Xbox 360 debuted, so you know Sony and Microsoft have been thinking about their new consoles for a while now. Still, in the few months leading up to the release, there's a mad dash to rush testing and hastily apply fixes in order to get a mostly functional product on the shelves in time for the holiday rush.

That means there are going to be bugs. Just like the Xbox 360 had launch bugs, such as the now-infamous "red ring of death," the newer consoles will have some glitches, both in the hardware and the online gaming networks. If being an early adopter isn't important to you, it's usually better to wait a few months to a year before purchasing a brand-new technology.
MORE: Xbox One and PlayStation 4 – Why You Should Wait to Buy.

Plus, the launch versions of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 won't be backward-compatible, meaning that games designed for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 won't work on them. Sony does have plans to make its older games available on the PlayStation 4 via a streaming service over the PlayStation Network, but this feature won't be available at launch, and a release date has yet to be confirmed. Microsoft, on the other hand, has said that backward compatibility is not part of its marketing strategy. 

Upcoming PS3 and Xbox 360 games

The lack of backward compatibility means that if you buy a next-generation console right away, you might miss some of the great-looking games that are still set to come out in the two months before the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 arrive.

For example, "Beyond: Two Souls" is an action-adventure game —or, as studio Quantic Dream often calls its work, an interactive drama — set to be released Oct. 8 for the PlayStation 3. Quantic Dream used advanced motion capture and Hollywood actors — including Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe — to create a highly photo-realistic adventure about a girl (Page) and her strange relationship with a supernatural entity known only as Aiden.

There's also "Batman: Arkham Origins," the third installment of the critically acclaimed "Arkham" game series about the Dark Knight. Instead of picking up where "Batman: Arkham City" left off, however, "Origins" is a prequel, and follows Bruce Wayne's first year as Batman. The game will include a host of villains, including The Joker, Deathstroke and Black Mask, and an online multiplayer that includes Robin — and possibly Batgirl. It will be released Oct. 25 for both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, as well as for the Wii U and PC.

There are also some brilliant games that have debuted this year for current-generation consoles, including "BioShock Infinite" and "The Last of Us." In fact, both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 have had years to accumulate a library of fantastic games that might be hard or impossible to play on an Xbox One or PlayStation 4.

Even after the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 come out, most upcoming games will be available for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, as well as for next-generation consoles. That includes new titles like "Watch Dogs," a game about a vigilante with NSA-on-steroids hacking abilities who uses the computer system to thwart his opponents, and "Titanfall," a futuristic first-person shooter. "Watch Dogs" debuts Nov. 19 for the Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U and PC. "Titanfall" comes out in early 2014 for the Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC.

Upcoming sequels like "Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag" and "Call of Duty: Ghosts" will also be available on current-generation and next-generation consoles when they arrive this fall.

Even games like "Dragon Age: Inquisition" and "Destiny," which won't be out for another year or more, are still likely to be released for the Xbox 360 and PS3 in addition to being offered for the newer consoles. And for sequels like "Inquisition," the next-gen consoles won't be able to import saved data from previous games, which impacts the game's story.