The PS4 and Xbox One are out in less than a month. We're scant days away from the next console generation, so close we can taste the pixels, and so ready for it too. This has been a long and satisfying hardware cycle, but it's time for a change. Expect our front page to be all next-gen all the time once November starts in earnest.
However, we started out as a simple deals blog and delivering useful consumer advice has always been at the forefront of our minds over the last few years. So here, dear reader, is perhaps the most useful piece of advice we'll ever give you.
Think long and hard about whether you should actually wait until Spring 2014 to buy a next-gen console. It's the eleventh hour, the final countdown, and it might actually be a good idea to sit this one out - if not outright cancel your existing PS4 or Xbox One preorder. Not only will you save a cubic metre of dosh in the short term, but you'll probably have a better Christmas too. It all comes down to cold hard logic.
The truly exciting next-gen games are coming next Spring. inFamous: Second Son, Titanfall, Project Spark, Thief, DriveClub and Watch Dogs all look fantastic - not to mention indie and boutique games on both platforms - but they're several months away. At launch, we've basically got a rather lacklustre selection of exclusive sequels to tide us over.
Killzone? Great, I've already got three of those. I've got four Forza games before you Xbox fans start jeering. Ryse and Knack both look like equally forgettable shelf-fillers. The Xbox One counters Sony's indie and F2P offering with Dead Rising 3 and Killer Instinct, but be honest with yourself: are any of these games worth dropping £340-£600 on right now? Really? As we'll discuss later, most of the multiplatform heavy-hitters will also be available on current-gen platforms, boast inexpensive upgrade options and run better on PC to boot. If you wait, you'll be able to crack on with the good stuff straight away and enjoy a much more fully-rounded ecosystem of smaller boutique titles too.
Effectively you'll buy your next-gen console with the games you actually want, not the ones you're forced to choose from.
On the technical front, it's almost certainly a good idea to hold off on spending hundreds of Pounds before knowing what both machines are capable of. Both consoles seem to have issues with native 1080p, the Xbox One especially, beyond a couple of first party options on either side (and CoD: Ghosts on PS4, interestingly enough). Rumours abound about whether the Xbox One's firmware and netcode are up to scratch yet. Third-party peripherals and your existing headsets won't work until next year if at all. Also, let's try to remember one of the basic facts about consumer electronics: DO NOT BUY THE FIRST GENERATION OF ANYTHING. It's basically paying for the privilege of participating in a hardware beta.
So waiting until next Spring, if not summer 2014, is therefore the "right play" as Jack Bauer would say. And that's all before you look at the games headed to current-gen platforms.
The PS3 and Xbox 360 are getting every major multiplatform release - from Battlefield 4 and Call Of Duty: Ghosts to Metal Gear Solid V and even Watch Dogs. Plus Gran Turismo 6. And XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Not being able to play Killzone: Shadow Fall or Dead Rising 3 is frankly not that big of a deal when Yamauchi and Firaxis will likely blow the entire next-gen launch lineup out of the water. PC gamers also have plenty to look forward to including what will likely be the definitive graphical versions of Battlefield 4 and Call Of Duty: Ghosts, though I'd actually suggest that you take the opportunity to install some of those Steam games you bought but never had time to play! Save the money for a new graphics card, perhaps.
That said, there's nothing stopping you buying something new. If you're a handheld gamer, the 3DS is arguably one of the strongest consoles on the market right now, offering a slew of utterly fantastic games and coming down in price every day. The 3DS XL is fantastic piece of tech upon which to play Fire Emblem Awakening, Animal Crossing, Pokemon X and Y, Etrian Odyssey IV, Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Professor Layton, Mario Kart 7, Monster Hunter, SteamWorld Dig and so much more besides... whereas the 2DS eschews the 3D gimmick and hinge for an insanely low RRP (beware the mono sound though). Nintendo can always be relied on to throw their best first-party studios at the platform, unlike Sony who tend to outsource to the lowest bidders beyond a couple of noteworthy exceptions.
Don't discount the Vita though. In fact, retailers have already discounted the Vita (heh) - providing an incredibly low price point that unlocks a selection of terrific titles. The likes of LittleBigPlanet Vita, Persona 4 Golden, Tearaway and Killzone Mercenaries have to be seen to be believed: you'll have never played anything like them on a portable system. I've rarely found a Vita owner who genuinely regretted their purchase, especially since the indie and JRPG front is seriously strong. I own both handhelds and love them to bits.
And, erm, I should probably mention the Wii U. No, seriously. Retailers are practically giving it away, and you'll be able to net a selection of games that will almost certainly be more fun than either the Xbox One or PS4's launch lineup. Zelda, Pikmin, Mario and Lego City Undercover? Yes please. Plus, the Wii U brings the boxing day local multiplayer shenanigans more comprehensively than either next-gen console. I genuinely can't believe I typed all that, but the logic is sound.
Ultimately, you shouldn't let anyone tell you what to do with your hard-earned cash. Let alone a flagrant hypocrite like me who still has an Xbox One pre-order to blog about at launch. This is the start of something exciting, a new era, and inconvenient logic shouldn't get in the way of your love of games and new technology.
But we'd suggest - nay, we'd urge - you to use these last few weeks to genuinely think about the decision, and whether holding off now might make more sense for you in the long run.
That's the last I'll say on this. The build-up to next gen starts tomorrow. Either way, we'd love to know what you plan to do this Christmas, and how you plan to spend (and save!) your dosh.