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There are a lot of things to consider when deciding to buy either an Xbox One or PlayStation 4. Most people default to tech specs as a basis of comparison, and while it’s been long-proven that the PlayStation 4 (PS4) is slightly more powerful than the Xbox One, in all honesty, the differences in game performance are hard to spot unless you’re really looking for them.
If your goal is to play with friends who already own a system, or if there’s a game you’re interested in that’s only available on one console, then your decision has been made for you. But for the slick-dealing casual gamer that wants a budget-friendly next-gen system, there’s only one aspect to consider: true cost of ownership.

Low retail pricing and more potential for deeper discounts make the Xbox One a better buy when shopping for a base console system.

The Console Itself

xbox one price

Games have historically been the driving force for console sales, and since both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One can be purchased in a bundle that offers one or more free games, there’s never a good reason to buy the console by itself.

A standard one-game 500 GB PlayStation 4 bundle currently retails for $349.99, and in 2015, the PS4 had a significant deal just about every month, with an all-time low official MSRP of $299 just before Christmas. This price drop lasted only two weeks, but with additional coupons and offers, PS4s were being purchased for as low as $237.
Microsoft is currently trying to grow their market share, and a one-game 500 GB Xbox One bundle is priced at $349 with a $50 gift code, essentially making it $299.

During 2015, the Xbox One could also be found with significant deals every month, and Christmas brought about a low MSRP of $299. By stacking additional offers, some Slickdealers were able to purchase an Xbox One bundle for an impressive $219.

Looking at official MSRPs, an Xbox One runs at about the same price as a PlayStation 4, but more often than not, Xbox One bundles offered extra value in terms of additional games or peripherals for the same, if not lower, price.
Low retail pricing and more potential for deeper discounts make the Xbox One a better buy when shopping for a base console system.

Online Services

Xbox one console

For a generation where some games are almost exclusively online multiplayer, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One aren’t quite ready to connect you with your friends right out of the box. Both systems require a monthly service subscription in order to compete against other online players — PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold.
PlayStation Plus has a 1-year membership retail price of $49.99 versus Xbox Live Gold’s $59.99, but for Slickdeals users, that’s not a topic of worry as both annual membership plans can be easily found for $40.
PlayStation Plus will occasionally dip down to around $35, while Xbox Live Gold drops to $30 or below on a much more frequent basis.

In terms of features, both services offer extra value with access to free games every month and special discounts on purchases. The only thing to really consider is upfront annual cost because monthly or quarterly plans are much more expensive. Xbox Live Gold is the better buy with more frequent opportunities to find the annual membership on sale. 

Peripherals and Accessories

If you prefer to have friends come over for some good ol’ split screen action, you’ll need to purchase an additional controller (or more), as most console bundles typically include only one controller.
PS4 and Xbox One standard controllers retail for $60 each, though there are certainly deals to be had from popular e-tailers like Amazon or Newegg.

The Dualshock 4 wireless controller for PS4 has been hovering around $47 since the beginning of 2016, while the Xbox One wireless controller is stagnant at near full price from the major retailers. Both controllers have an all-time low of $39 during 2015’s Black Friday, with the Dualshock 4 showing more frequent and sustained price drops throughout the year.

Another major, yet highly optional peripheral to consider is a camera system — Xbox One Kinect and PlayStation 4 Camera. The Kinect currently retails for $100 versus PlayStation 4 Camera’s consistent $43-ish price tag.
Neither camera system is being utilized to its maximum potential by game developers — except for the occasional dancing game — which reduces Kinect and PlayStation 4 to being fancy visual and voice controllers for system menu navigation. These are definitely not necessities, but they do add to the full experience of the gaming console.

With more available and sustained price drops on peripherals throughout the year, shoppers will find that PS4 accessories are much cheaper to buy.

PS4 console

Price of Games

xbox one vs ps4 games

Games fluctuate in price based on a variety of conditions, including sales volume, age and current popularity. But an immediate 20% discount off the full $60 retail price on pre-orders and newly released games is the new “regular price” if you’re a paying member of a program like Best Buy’s Gamers Club Unlocked or Amazon Prime.

For third-party (not developed by Microsoft or Sony) titles that are released on both Xbox One and PS4, the first price drop usually happens around six weeks after launch, and then it returns to full price for a while. A system exclusive game, like Forza Motorsport 6 (Xbox One) or Uncharted 4 (PS4), will most likely take longer for its initial price drop because theoretically, these titles are highly popular and usually motivate undecided shoppers towards buying one system or the other.

If you’re not a collector and don’t care about disc or box art, digital versions of games go on sale much more often than their physical counterparts. The PlayStation Store and Xbox Marketplace have regular sales that are accessible to all, and those with PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold memberships get even more deals.
In general, the type of console you own doesn’t usually factor heavily into gaming price, unless you’re dealing with exclusive or timed-exclusive titles.

Backwards Compatibility

xbox one backwards compatability

PlayStation 4 and Xbox One use significantly different architecture than their predecessors, meaning that many people have libraries of PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 games collecting dust next to an aging, unsupported console. When first released, neither next-gen console had the ability to play previous-gen games, but in the race to provide more features and sell more units, Microsoft and Sony introduced their own unique solutions.

Xbox One now has more than 170 Xbox 360 titles eligible for backwards compatibility, with new titles converted on a monthly basis. This feature is available at no additional cost (considering you already own the game), and even allows cross-platform multiplayer between Xbox One and Xbox 360.

Unlike Xbox One, Sony’s approach to accessing previous-gen games is independent of whether you own the game or not — a monthly subscription service, PlayStation Plus, gives members the ability to stream games from a large library of PS3 titles. The fee starts at $20 a month or three months for $45.

Both systems add value by giving you access to last generation’s titles, but the Xbox One does it without additional costs.


Xbox one console

Only considering true cost of ownership, Xbox One is the better buy, requiring less financial investment than PlayStation 4 thanks to lower pricing on the system itself, online services and backwards compatibility. You’ll have to determine actual value based on your own preferences and criteria, but from your wallet’s perspective, Microsoft takes the cake.

As long as there aren’t PlayStation 4 exclusive games that are pulling you away, Xbox One is the more money-savvy option to get the full next-gen console experience.

Images courtesy Microsoft and Sony.


Andrew Chen

Andrew Chen, Sr. Content Manager @slickdeals, is a longtime PC gamer, an automotive journalist and an avid deal hunter. His first PC had an 80 megahertz processor with 4 megabytes of RAM, light years away from the powerhouse gaming rigs he builds today. As a Slickdeals community member for over 10 years, nothing makes him more excited than never paying full price!