To Xbox, or to PlayStation? That is the question. Xbox and PlayStation were, and still are, the two most predominant gaming consoles in the market. Many starting gamers struggle to decide which path they will take when buying their first console, as it will force them to purchase games only for that console. So, it all comes down to price.
Are PlayStation games cheaper than Xbox’s? No. On average, a game will cost the same on Xbox as it will on PlayStation upon release. The depreciation prices may vary once the games start getting old, and temporary deals may come up at different times and rates for each console. However, neither of the two consoles, as a rule, sells its games cheaper than the other.
The lack of a price difference makes choosing between the two consoles a lot more difficult. However, there are many other factors that, in the long run, can make one console’s experience much more different when it comes to price.
Xbox vs. PlayStation
Xbox is a gaming console owned and created by Microsoft since November 2001. It currently has three console generations, which are Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One in order. Microsoft plans to release the fourth generation in 2020, known as the Xbox Series X.
Xbox is known for being closely tied to PC gaming as Microsoft owns both Xbox and Windows, so it has many features, such as cross-platform play and mouse and keyboard support. However, it is its exclusive games that really make it stand out.
PlayStation is a gaming console owned and developed by Sony Entertainment since December 1994. It is much older than Xbox, so it should come as no surprise that it is currently in its fourth generation. The generations are PlayStation, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and, like Xbox, has a new generation planned to be released by the end of 2020.
Historically, Sony has aimed to give the PlayStation a greater purpose than just being a video game console, by putting an emphasis on resolution, blue ray capabilities, and music. However, Xbox has just about caught up on these features.
Like Xbox, PlayStation’s exclusive games are the ones that make it stand out, and possibly the main reason fans stay loyal to the console.
What Makes a Console Cheaper?
In order to determine which console you should buy games for, it is important to be aware of the other costs that come with that console. Owning a console has initial costs when you first buy it and costs for playing it. Some of these costs for both PlayStation and Xbox include:
- The console: The console is the most important part of your gaming system. It is where all of your games, data, and accessories will be put to use. The costs for a console may vary because of its generation, technical features, etc.
- Controllers: A controller allows the player to interact with the console and the digital world that its games offer. It is arguably the second most important part of the gaming system as a controller makes a console usable.
- Accessories: This includes but is not limited to headsets, motion trackers, VR sets, external hard drives/USB memories, charging cables, etc.
Costs for Playing
- Games: Games come in many sizes, genres, formats, prices, etc. You may just be looking to buy a console for a specific game(s), but if you are like most console owners, you will want to buy many new games in the future. In the long run, this can become the highest cost.
- Batteries: Although a considerable cost, it can be avoided. You could buy a charging cable or rechargeable batteries that are compatible with your controller.
- Membership: There are costs for online play for both Xbox and PlayStation. These memberships are usually paid monthly (which costs $9.99 on both Xbox and PlayStation). The price of this membership may vary through special deals.
Now that we’ve got the costs that come with a console covered, let’s discuss how this relates to the price of games for each console.
Variations in Game Prices
Most triple-A titles (meaning games published by major video game companies) cost $59.99 upon release. There are a number of factors that can change their prices, such as depreciation, deals, and memberships.
Depreciation occurs when a game becomes “old.” This may occur after one year of release or when a sequel in the franchise is released. This includes most, if not all, last-generation games (e.g., Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 games). However, this brings the issue of backward-compatibility, which will be mentioned later on in this article.
Another factor that affects prices is deals. Some game companies offer special discounts from time to time. This could be a seasonal sale or a Black Friday sale, for example. You might be able to get some games at a discount because they are sold in a bundle.
Memberships could be the easiest and cheapest way of buying new games. Xbox is offering a subscription called Game Pass, and PlayStation is offering a similar service called PlayStation Now. Both services allow gamers to download and play hundreds of games as long as they pay the subscription and stay online.
Said memberships cost $9.99 for both Xbox and PlayStation on top of their respective online play memberships (although there are membership bundles and discounts that exist for both consoles).
Since no definitive price difference can be made between the respective games of each individual console, the next factor to analyze is which console gives you more games for its cost.
Average Cost of Xbox Games
Xbox has had a long-standing tradition of selling its new triple-A games for a price of $59.99. However, there are many games on the Xbox Marketplace that cost way less than that.
Microsoft supports some smaller video game creators. Of course, since said creators tend to not have the budget that major game developer companies have (which can go as high as the millions), their games tend to be shorter and sold for a lower price. These games can cost anywhere between $5 to about $40.
Microsoft also rewards its Xbox Live Gold members with four free games every month, and the player can keep these games even offline. On top of that, Xbox Live Gold members receive discounts on certain games every month.
In addition, Xbox also has its Game Pass subscription, which costs $9.99 a month but can be purchased for $1 the first month. This Game Pass offers hundreds of games, both from triple-AAA developers and smaller studios.
As previously stated, Microsoft also offers a wide variety of previous-generation Xbox games that can be played on the current Xbox One. And since these games have greatly depreciated with time, Xbox, on average, has cheaper games than PlayStation.
Average Cost of PlayStation Games
PlayStation, like Xbox, sells its new triple-A titles for $59.99. This might be the result of an oligarchy between Xbox, PC, and PlayStation, but this is further explained below.
PlayStation, like Xbox, offers games from smaller creators, but not as many. However, like Xbox, PlayStation offers its PlayStation Now subscription, which is very similar to Game Pass.
However, where Xbox and PlayStation greatly differ in terms of average game price is in the number of backward compatible games, as PlayStation has only recently started implementing the feature while Xbox already has hundreds of games compatible with the current console.
Why Are the Costs of Games Similar for Both Consoles?
Xbox and PlayStation are not the only competing consoles in the gaming market. Some of the same games offered on Xbox and PlayStation can be bought for PC and the Nintendo Switch, and most new triple-A titles are sold for the same $59.99 price across all consoles. So why is that?
One explanation can be the fact that all consoles and all major game developers have to compete against each other in the market. For example, Mad Max and Battlefield 1 were released in the same month and had to compete with each other on sales. On top of that, PlayStation and Xbox had to compete on the sales of both games.
What usually happens in these situations is that the few major competitors agree on a set price so that a price war for who can sell the cheapest to attract more buyers does not occur. This is an illegal practice known as price-fixing. However, it is a little more different when it comes to games.
The common $59.99 price occurs more as a natural law than as an agreement. All triple-A creators, in their own opinion, happen to find the $59.99 price to be adequate. Any retailer could sell their game for a lower price if they wished.
The reason why $59.99 is so appealing is because game developers find it enough to cover their expenses, as millions of dollars go into making most triple-A titles. Additionally, the $59.99 price tag is short-lived or an outright alternative, as services like PlayStation Now and Game Pass offer these titles for a much lower price even after they have just come out.
On top of that, most of the time, the game is the exact same for PlayStation as it is for Xbox, so there is no reason why the price for the same game should be different for each console.
Is it Possible to Purchase Cheaper Games Online vs. In-Person?
The ability to purchase games digitally from the comfort of your own home is a rather new development in gaming. We are all used to going to, or ordering from, retailers such as Amazon, GameStop and BestBuy to get the physical copy of a video game.
Regarding the price difference between physical and digital game copies, they usually cost the same upon release. It is once they start devaluating due to age that a real price difference is seen.
Deals on older games are a lot more common in the online marketplace than they are with physical copies. However, you could find a secondhand older game being sold for a few dollars, but such deals tend to be rare; this is because some physical game copies earn value rather than devaluating with age, so there is a time window when finding cheap copies is possible.
It is also worth mentioning once more that the online marketplace for both Xbox and PlayStation offer a vast library of games for their subscription services, which is, obviously, not possible with physical copies.
So in summary, when it comes to brand new games, digital and physical purchases usually cost the same (with the exception of subscription services). It is once the games start getting older that it is possible to find good deals online—and also, second-hand physical copies being sold for almost a dollar—so it really depends.
Which Console Offers You More Games?
Both Xbox and PlayStation find themselves multiple generations ahead of their original consoles. Many games were released for each of their respective generations that were not published with the intention of being played in future generations. So what happens to those games from previous generations?
This is where backward compatibility comes into play. Backward compatibility allows for games from previous-generation consoles to be played on the current generation console. This greatly increases the number of games that each console has to offer and will offer in the future, as backward compatibility for future consoles has been confirmed.
This is also where both Xbox and PlayStation are different. Xbox has released backward compatibility for its current console as far back as the original Xbox. However, the current generation of PlayStation (PS4) only offers a limited collection of its previous-generation games, but it is slowly increasing its list, and future backward compatibility has been confirmed.
The way this affects the price of games is that if, for example, you own all the Halo games for Xbox 360, you won’t have to purchase the Halo collection for Xbox One, as previous-generation games tend to make comebacks. However, this comes with the tradeoff that certain multiplayer features might no longer be supported by the developers.
Additionally, previous-generation games are much cheaper in the current marketplace. This fact alone means that you could get more games for the same total price for Xbox than for PlayStation. However, it is important to consider exclusives.
Both Microsoft and Sony have made deals with game development studios to receive exclusive access to the sale of their games. For example, game series like Halo and Gears of War can only be played on Xbox, and series like God of War and Uncharted can only be played on PlayStation.
It is very important to consider this factor if you are buying your first console. Sure, you could buy both and be able to have all the exclusives for both consoles, but if you are only going for one console, you will be committed to buying games for that console and only that console.
The exclusives for one console are not cheaper than the other console’s exclusives, so when it comes to choosing by exclusive games, it is up to which games you find more of your taste. However, the topic of exclusives does have some importance when it comes to how much you pay for a game if you wish to also play it on your PC.
Some games on both PS4 and Xbox have the ability to be played with players who own the same game on other consoles (e.g., PC or Nintendo Switch). However, that is not all; both Xbox and PS4 have allowed players to play some of their games on both console and PC with a single purchase.
Since Xbox is owned by Microsoft, the same company that also own Windows, Xbox has come out with a “Play Anywhere” function, which allows for a limited number of video games to be played on both Xbox and PC with shared achievements and information with a single purchase.
PlayStation has come up with a similar function for its PlayStation Now service, allowing players to stream their PS4 games on PC and play them without having to own a PS4. PlayStation’s library is far more extensive than Xbox’s, featuring more than 800 stream-capable games.
This adds to the factor that if you already play on a PC or are planning on buying one in the future besides your console, you will only have to buy one game instead of two, thus making the game cheaper.
Are PlayStation Games Cheaper Than Xbox?
Xbox offers a wide variety of backward compatible games, more than PlayStation. This means that Xbox offers more games in total for a lower price than PlayStation. It has a wide variety of exclusive games but not necessarily more than PlayStation. However, many of these exclusive games have a cross-ownership feature with PC, but they are less than on PlayStation.
Since no clear distinction can be made between the two when it comes to which console offers the most games per dollar, the rule of thumb on deciding which console to pledge allegiance to is its exclusive games.
Xbox Exclusive Games to Purchase
Halo is a first-person shooter franchise that started in 2001 with Halo: Combat Evolved. In the Halo universe, you take up the role of a super-soldier known as Master Chief. You are tasked with exploring an ancient superstructure known as Halo. However, you must also defend Earth against an alien alliance known as the Covenant before they uncover the secrets to activating the Halos and destroying all life in the galaxy.
The Halo franchise has multiple spin-off games from its first installation such as Halo: Reach and Halo 3: ODST. Its sixth installment, known as Halo Infinite, is set to be released soon. Halo is known for being one of the classic games that put the Xbox out there as a major console. It has multiplayer features that has kept its fan-base alive and connected.
Gears of War is a third-person shooter franchise that started in 2006. In Gears of War, you take the role of Sergeant Marcus Fenix; you are tasked with defending an already endangered humanity from extinction, after a species of human-like monsters known as The Locust emerges from the depths of the Earth.
What makes the Gears of War franchise memorable is its focus on cooperative gameplay. Marcus has a brother in arms named Dominic Santiago, the character that the second player takes control over. The two go through hell to get their job done, which not only creates a sense of brotherhood between the two characters but between players as well.
One of my personal favorites, the Forza franchise is a racing simulator that started in 2005. It features many real-life sports cars and makes them fully customizable. Forza gains its appeal from its accuracy when presenting car races and from its breathtaking graphics.
The Forza franchise has multiple games and currently finds itself in its seventh installment. Each new game features new cars, new race tracks, and new customization. It currently offers multiplayer features.
Despite also being available for PlayStation, Minecraft is a de-facto Xbox exclusive as it was recently bought by Microsoft and is definitely worth mentioning as it is arguably one of the most famous games of all time.
It puts the player in a world made entirely out of blocks (even the player is square). The player can build and fight monsters at night to survive or choose to play God and build colossal structures in its creative mode.
It features multiplayer and cross-play between Xbox and PC, and it is part of Microsoft’s Play Anywhere program, so it is possible to own the game on both platforms by only purchasing the game once. However, this does not give access to Minecraft’s original Java version, which features mods.
PlayStation Exclusive Games to Purchase
PlayStation exclusive games tend to focus more on adventure and story. They are also widely known for their graphics as that has been Sony’s specialty with PlayStation for a while now. Here is a brief list of PlayStation exclusive video game titles that make the PlayStation experience unique.
The God of War Franchise started in 2005; it is a third-person combat/adventure game. In God of War, you take the role of Kratos, a former Spartan who gains supernatural powers from the Greek gods, but rebels against them when they trick him into killing his own wife.
The franchise finds itself in its fifth installment, which saw a shift from Greek mythology to Scandinavian mythology, which hints at the possibility that mythologies all around the world might be featured in future games.
The Uncharted franchise is a third-person action/adventure shooter game that started in 2007. Uncharted follows the story of Nathan Drake, a treasure hunter who must fight against other rival treasure hunters and unlock the truth left behind through the treasures he finds.
The Uncharted franchise concluded on its fourth installment, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. It relies on its creative gameplay in the form of puzzles and parkour and in its breathtaking graphics.
The Last of Us is a rather new franchise; it started in 2013, and it is a third-person action/adventure shooter. In The Last of Us, you alternate between the roles of Joel and Ellie. They find themselves in a post-apocalyptic world that has been taken over by a zombie-making virus. Joel must take Ellie to a hospital where they will use her blood to create a cure to hopefully save humanity.
The Last of Us shines in its immersive gameplay and breathtaking graphics and level design. However, its main focus is its excellent and emotional story based around Joel and Ellie’s father and daughter-ish relationship.
In summary, Xbox and PlayStation are both good consoles that offer a wide variety of games and have great plans for the near future. They both have different deals, bonuses, and features to satisfy their player-base. Choosing either console is important as it will force you to purchase games exclusively for that console, so it is a long-term commitment.
Both Xbox and PlayStation offer backward compatible games, but Xbox has more. Both Xbox and PlayStation have cross-play services, but PlayStation wins in that field.
However, it is due to their similarities that game prices do not vary as much between the two, so the game price cannot be used as a deciding factor when choosing which console to pledge allegiance to.
Therefore, the main deciding factor when it comes to choosing a console is its exclusive game titles. If you are into shooter-like games, Xbox has more exclusives in that area. If you are more into single-player adventure style games, PlayStation has more in that area.