Forget the PS5, here’s how $1000 can satisfy your gaming needs on a PS4, Xbox or Switch

by Mitch Reames and Andrew Kulp

Right now, PS5 disc editions are going for around $1,000 due to scalpers cleaning up the market and jacking up prices beyond the original $500 retail price. There is still a digital version available but it’s also marked up although it’s out there for less than a grand. Not only is this clearly scummy behavior, it’s also a really bad deal in the gaming world.

Inspired by a Reddit post showing what $1,000 could also buy in retro PlayStation gear, we decided to look at how far that money goes with each of the top consoles from the previous generation: PS4, Xbox One and the Switch.

PS4

There's a pretty good argument to be made that as long as you own a PS4, you don't really need a PS5 right now. The majority of Sony's exclusive games are still being released for both systems, so why pay more than retail to play the select few that aren't?

And chances are good if you're looking for a PS5, you already own a PS4. But even if you did decide to buy one -- maybe you're the type of gamer who's always a generation behind, or an Xbox owner going dual-platform or considering switching allegiances in the console wars -- a used PS4 with 500 GB of space and a controller will only set you back about $280 at GameStop.

You'll have to hunt for a low price on a legit Sony DualShock 4 controller, unless you're OK with the third-party stuff for half the price -- your friend or younger sibling is the one who has to use it anyway. Just pay the $53 for the real thing, though, then pick up a one-year subscription to PS Plus through CDKeys (price varies, but usually under $40), and you've still got around $600 total to play around with, give or take, depending on sales tax.

Read more: Three reasons why we love PlayStation

Image credit: Sony

Bear in mind, PS Plus is going to give you access to a lot of all-time classics for no additional charge, too, so you won't even need to run right out and buy God of War, The Last of Us, Ratchet & Clank, Uncharted 4, Final Fantasy XV or one of 15 other hit games. The service will supply you with an additional two or three free games each month, but go ahead and start rounding out your games library by finding deals on used games through GameSpot, Amazon or eBay.

We won't dictate exactly what you should buy, though all-time classics such as Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead Redemption 2 are essentials, and you can't go wrong with PlayStation exclusives like Spider-Man and Horizon Zero Dawn. By going the pre-played route and scouring the internet for the best prices, you'll be able to collect many of the PS4's all-timers for between $10-15 on average, and some for as low as $5.

You could easily come away with upwards of 30 games, realistically more depending how well you do, plus the 20-plus freebies through PS Plus, for around $300! Keep going if you want -- or, rather than amass a huge backlog right off the bat, why not take $150 of your wad and buy yourself a refurbished VR headset? There are a surprising number of games that either support VR or are standalone VR titles, many able to be had for quite cheap if you continue the used route. Definitely don't miss Astro Bot Rescue Mission, but pick out a few more to make the peripheral worth the money.

Though you could easily spend $600 on games alone, you're bound to have some spare change left over before you're all said and done. Why not save yourself some hassle with a $14 charging dock station for your two controllers? And since PS4 lacks traditional backward compatibility, might as well pick up the PlayStation Classic retro console with 20 pre-loaded games -- not Sony's best effort, but a steal at $18.

No, it isn't the latest, most advanced technology, but you can build a fairly authoritative collection of the last 10 years of PlayStation for $1,000 on the PS4.

-- Andrew Kulp

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Xbox One

In terms of bang for your buck, you'll be hard-pressed to stretch your dollars further than with an Xbox One. Right now, there's a used system with 500 GB of space, one controller and the Halo: Master Chief Collection listed for less than $200 including shipping on eBay, so right there you're starting with more in your pocket before you buy so much as one game.

And the money you allot for games is likely to go a lot farther, too. First, you're going to want to grab a 12-month subscription to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate which, again, is going for way cheaper on eBay with deals spotted for under $100. That's going to get you access to well over 200 Xbox One and 360 games, including GTA V, Red Dead Online, Sea of Thieves, Rainbow Six Siege, Gears 5 and franchises like Elder Scrolls, Mass Effect and Fable along with all of the latest big sports titles including Madden, NBA 2K and MLB The Show. Even if you wind up paying closer to $150 for Game Pass plus $50 for a second controller, you've got more games than you'll know what to do with and $600 to spend.

Read more: 7 Xbox exclusives announced at E3 we’re most excited about

Image credit: Microsoft

Since the Xbox One offers some degree of backwards compatibility, too, you can pick up a ton of 360 games for just a couple bucks apiece.

Now, you may want to pick up a few games that haven't made it to Game Pass yet. Perhaps you want to play Assassin's Creed Valhalla, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2, It Takes Two or a handful of titles that don't come with the service. On the bright side, you can probably find a bunch of those titles for $20-30 used, maybe cheaper, so it's not going to break the bank if you add 5-10 must-haves for your library.

Between some newer releases and some retro 360 titles, maybe you somehow wound up dropping another $200 on games -- and that might be a stretch. That still leaves you with $400, and honestly, we're running out of Xbox-specific things to do with it! Go ahead and pick up a couple of rechargeable batteries for the controllers, which even brand new should run $50 altogether, and seeing as you will have hundreds of games at your fingertips at any given moment, maybe a two terabyte external hard drive for storage isn't a bad idea at $100. Throw in a media remote control ($20) and a cooling station ($28) because you might literally never turn the machine off. These aren't even deals, so you could still price shop these.

And you still have over $100 lying around, so maybe pick up a Microsoft-approved gaming controller for your phone and take your library mobile via the cloud. After all, once you've bought all of this stuff, you're going to need to be playing pretty much every waking second to enjoy it!

-- Kulp

Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch was extremely difficult to get on release and had moments of being out of stock last year throughout the pandemic. Now those supply issues have subsided and the console is readily available for the retail price of $299. You can even get the Animal Crossing version for the same price if you want.

That leaves us $701 to play with. With the Switch having only 32 GB of storage on the hard drive, an SD card is a necessity. A 128 GB card is on sale for about $15 dollars right now so let’s grab that. Playing online does require a subscription as well, but it only costs $20 for the year. That also enables cloud saving for games so the SD card could be sacrificed, but it’s good to have both to buy games digitally and keep them on the console. Anyways, it’s only $35 for all the memory space you need and the digital subscription to play with friends.

Speaking of friends, let’s grab another set of Joy Cons. The Switch comes with two, which can be combined into one controller or used separately. Another set gives you four controllers for games played with single joy-cons or two sets of them for games best played with them combined into the plastic controller mold. Joycons are pretty expensive unfortunately at $80 retail. Other options include the Pro Controller for $70 and the Nintendo Switch wired controller (my personal favorite) which is on sale for $25 right now at Best Buy.

Going with the most expensive option in the Joy Cons and adding in the SD card and online subscription we’re at $414 total. We still haven’t even reached the retail price for the PS5 yet. So let’s move onto the games. I will only use legit websites and look for new versions. By going used or into sketchier domains, your buck can stretch a lot further, but to make this a fair comparison, I’m only using the cheapest listing from a major store like GameStop, Target or Best Buy.

It’s Nintendo so there are some legacy games that are both nostalgic and also amazing sequels to beloved titles.

Because the Switch has been out a while, many of these games have dropped a bit in price. Our starting budget is $586, so let's see what we can get starting with the elite single-player experiences.

Remaining budget: $441

Read more: The top five Nintendo franchise titles on the Nintendo Switch

Image credit: Nintendo

Those are all primarily single player games, probably the big three on the platform, and they are all independently incredible titles. But Nintendo is known for its party games, so let's get some of them too.

Remaining budget: $308

At this point, you already have the staples. Those six titles alone offer plenty of content. Now I’m moving into some of the more personal preferences. Here are some games I sunk 100+ hours into on my Switch happily:

Remaining budget: $165

We’re getting down to it now, but this is enough content to keep anyone entertained for hundreds upon hundreds of hours. Most of these titles are pretty old, so let's get a few more topical releases as well.

With the Olympics coming up, how about Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games: Tokyo edition for $40. Remaining budget: $125.

The most recent major release for Nintendo Switch is Mario Golf: Super Rush and it’s an absolute blast so we can grab that for $55 on GameStop.

Read more: Why arcade golf games like Mario Golf are superior to sports sims

Side note, GameStop appears to be the place for deals on games right now. The majority of those links (especially for the $48 games) are all to GameStop because they were consistently a few bucks cheaper than every other major retailer. Mario Golf: Super Rush just came out and is $60 everywhere except GameStop. Have to wonder if this is related to the stock drama which is still ongoing ...

Thanks to GameStop’s deals we’ve got $70 leftover. This could go to one major title or we can split it over two solid ones. There are also plenty of games available for crazy cheap on Nintendo Switch’s Online store. I’ll use our final budget on an absolute classic: a trilogy of Crash Bandicoot games currently on sale for $37. For the final $33, I’ll grab the Deluxe Version of Knockout City which has become my most recent obsession for $30. The final three dollars are all yours.

So, in all, for the price scalpers want you to pay for the PS5, you can get, a Nintendo Switch, a second controller, a year’s worth of online play, an SD card to up the hard drive and 13 games including all of the most beloved games that the Switch has had over the last 5 years.

-- Mitch Reames

Lead image credit: u/birfday_party / Reddit


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