Video Game Console Life Cycle: Buying Your Next One

Unlike computers, tablets and smart phones, video consoles can last you a long time. Some manufacturers have 10-year product cycles, while others tend to be more flexible. Exceptionally, some of these consoles initially cost more to produce than their initial MSRP. All of the consoles have been on the market for at least 5 years, and you'd expect them all to get ready to release their next generation gaming console.

We originally bought our Xbox 360 when the console was first released, back in November 2005. At the time, it was hard to find, but with a bit of savvy, we managed to find one on November 16. That original console is still going strong and works fine. You might be surprised to find out, but both Microsoft and Playstation have indicated that their product life-cycle is close to 10 years.

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You're looking to buy a Nintendo Wii
Over the last few months, there has been a lot of fanfare about Nintendo's next video game console, the Wii U. Nintendo was the first brand of the three console giants to offer up information about their next generation video game console. It will produce 1080p high definition graphics, and has a funky new controller with a touchscreen, allowing players to continue gaming sessions even when the television is off. This system will be fully backward compatible with Wii games and Wii peripherals. It won't be backward compatible with GameCube games.

How long you might have to wait
Nintendo has announced that the Wii U will be released next year, in 2012.

Release history
November 19, 2006 (Wii)
November 18, 2001 (GameCube)
September 29, 1996 (Nintendo 64)

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Should you buy now or wait
Sales of the Wii have been declining this year for the first time since the console launched, so if you're in the market for one, best wait until next year or pick up some healthy bargains if you don't need the latest console.

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You're looking to buy a Xbox 360
Thanks to the release of the Microsoft Kinect accessory, the Xbox 360 has been doing well. Microsoft believes that it has injected new life into its console. The Xbox 360 is the perfect platform to accommodate PC gamers and players who enjoy a strong online component. Microsoft's Xbox Live beats the rest of the competition in that aspect.

How long you might have to wait
Microsoft has said that the Xbox 360's life cycle may last up to 10 years and that the console is about halfway through its life. Although, it remains to be seen what will happen when the Wii U will be released, Microsoft is working on their next console and expects it to be released in 2015.

Release history
November 16, 2005 (Xbox 360)
November 15, 2001 (Xbox)

Should you buy now or wait
It's safe to say that you can purchase the most recent Xbox 360 without worrying about your console becoming outdated any time soon.

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You're looking to buy a PlayStation 3
Just like the Kinect, the PlayStation Move has helped to extend the life of the PlayStation 3 console. The large number of games that are available make this a very interesting console. There are quite a few games that are released only on PlayStation, making it a must for some gamers.

How long you might have to wait
Sony has said that it will stick to the expected 10-year life cycle of the PlayStation 3. They don't plan on releasing a new console next year. However, we will see what will happen when the Wii U is released. When sales start to decrease because of Nintendo's new console, they will most likely push up the release of their next generation console. The 10-year life cycle of the PlayStation 3 would mean that the next PlayStation would be released in 2016.

Release history
November 17, 2006 (PlayStation 3)
October 26, 2000 (PlayStation 2)
September 9, 1995 (PlayStation)

Should you buy now or wait
Thanks to its long life cycle, it's safe to buy a PlayStation 3, especially if you buy the most recent version of the console.

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(images via The Guardian, Flickr member Matt Brett licensed for use under Creative Commons, Flickr member Bert23 licensed for use under Creative Commons, Flickr member PseudoGil licensed for use under Creative Commons)