For budget-focused gamers, kids, or those with lower graphic demands, the PlayStation 4 absolutely remains worth purchasing in 2023. However, hardcore players wanting cutting-edge experiences should upgrade to the PS5.
The PS4 can certainly still deliver tons of gaming value this year. Let‘s dive into the key factors to consider if you‘re looking to buy a PS4 in 2023.
The Dominance and Legacy of the PlayStation 4
Sony‘s PS4 console utterly dominated the 8th generation of video game consoles. After launching in November 2013, PS4 lifetime sales have surpassed an astonishing 117.2 million units as of January 2022 according to Sony‘s fiscal year 2021 financials.
To put that in perspective, the Xbox One sold just shy of 50 million units. The Nintendo Switch, while posting impressive numbers, has still only reached 111 million units sold in its 5 years on the market.
The PS4‘s success was driven by a powerful hardware spec advantage at launch, and Sony‘s top-notch first-party exclusive games studios such as Naughty Dog, Guerrilla Games and Insomniac. Blockbuster system-sellers like Horizon Zero Dawn (20+ million copies sold), God of War (21+ million copies sold), and The Last of Us Part II (over 10 million copies sold) drove adoption.
Third party support was also excellent, with Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto V, Red Dead Redemption 2 and other major multiplatform titles achieving some of their highest sales on PlayStation 4.
Clearly, the PS4 has a vast, high-quality library of over 4,500 games, and an expansive active user base even after the PS5‘s launch. It‘s easy to find multiplayer matches, and physical/digital game sales remain strong.
For example, Elden Ring which launched in February 2022 sold 16.6 million copies by June 2022. Of those sales, 5.7 million or over 34% were on PS4, more than any other platform showing there‘s still tremendous demand for PS4 versions of hot new releases.
PS4 Hardware and Architecture – Feeling Dated Yet Capable
While certainly feeling dated compared to the PS5‘s cutting-edge specs, the PlayStation 4‘s hardware can still deliver solid 1080p gaming performance in 2023. Let‘s look at its key components:
- CPU: 8-core AMD Jaguar x86-64 processor @ 1.6 GHz
- GPU: AMD GCN Radeon (18 CUs @ 800 MHz, 1.84 TFLOP theoretical performance)
- RAM: 8 GB GDDR5
- Storage: 500GB 5400 RPM hard drive (most models); up to 2TB HDD supported
- Optical Drive: Blu-ray 6x CAV
The PS4 was designed to target 1080p 30fps gameplay, which it typically hits on modern titles with some acceptable compromises on visual settings compared to PS5/PC.
Certain genres like 2D indie games, retro throwbacks, sidescrollers, Visual Novels and more have no problem running at 1080p/60fps on PS4. So its performance can still feel great in many titles.
While the PS4‘s CPU and hard drive are slow by today‘s standards, the RAM and GPU deliver enough punch for solid performance if you temper graphical expectations. Those hoping to play games in 4K or at higher framerates will need to look for a PS5 or high-end gaming PC.
Sony‘s Continued Support – Software Updates and New Games
Remarkably, Sony continues to support the PlayStation 4 in 2023 even after the PS5‘s launch.
In February 2023, Sony rolled out system software update 9.60 with minor improvements – notably the first PS4 firmware release in awhile.
While PS5 development is clearly the priority, Sony is still investing resources into improving the PS4 experience. They continue sponsoring new PS4 releases both from internal studios and third party partners.
Major upcoming PS4 games in 2023 include:
- Hogwarts Legacy
- Assassin‘s Creed Mirage
- Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
- Dead Island 2
- Tales of Symphonia Remastered
- Sonic Frontiers
- Final Fantasy XVI
- Resident Evil 4 Remake
- Crime Boss: Rockay City
Virtually every major third party 2023 release is still getting a PS4 version. Sony‘s own PS5 exclusives help sell new PlayStation 5 consoles to early adopters, while PS4 support prolongs the profitable life cycle of the last-gen user base.
The Ongoing Strengths of Owning a PlayStation 4 in 2023
If you‘re considering a PS4 purchase in 2023, it offers many strengths:
Affordable Pricing – New PS4 500GB models are readily available starting around $300. Used PS4s are widely available for under $200 if you‘re patient shopping secondhand marketplaces. Deals get better for the original PS4 and PS4 Slim versus the pricier PS4 Pro.
Massive Library – The PS4 has amassed over 4,500 titles across digital and physical releases. It has all the major franchises you‘d expect, plus cult hits and indie gems. Lots of variety across game genres, experiences and budgets.
Cheap Games – On PlayStation Store you can regularly find flash sales discounting titles 50-75% or more. PS Plus members get free monthly games. PlayStation Hits offer acclaimed first-party games for only $10.
Strong Multiplayer – Thanks to the huge PS4 install base, you‘ll have no problems finding thriving communities in online multiplayer games like Call of Duty, Apex Legends, Genshin Impact and Fortnite.
Upcoming Major Releases – There is no game drought for PS4 yet, with most major 2023 titles still slated for PS4 versions. Even into 2024, many third party games will likely support PS4.
For gamers wanting to catch up on acclaimed PS4 exclusives, dive into its many multiplayer communities, or access games cheaply, the PS4 remains quite appealing in 2023.
Drawbacks Compared to Owning a PlayStation 5
However, buying a PS4 in 2023 has notable drawbacks compared to purchasing its successor – the PS5:
Less Power – With a cutting-edge SSD, custom IO chip, ultra-fast RAM and powerful AMD GPU, the PS5 is a beast. It offers superior performance, nearly instant load times, ray tracing, 4K gaming, and 120fps frame rates.
Haptics and Audio – The PS5‘s DualSense controller has advanced haptic feedback in triggers/rumble that allows for immersive effects you simply can‘t experience on a PS4. PS5 also supports 3D spatial audio that makes games sound incredible.
No Access to PS5 Exclusives – Major Sony titles launching in 2023 and beyond like Marvel‘s Spider-Man 2, Forspoken, Final Fantasy XVI and more will be PS5-exclusive. You miss out on the latest PlayStation first-party gems by sticking to PS4.
PS5 Enhancements – Many cross-gen games offer graphical settings, performance modes and features only accessible on PlayStation 5. You don‘t get the full experience playing these titles on PS4.
If you‘re a hardcore gamer who wants cutting-edge tech and the best looking, best playing games, the $500+ investment in a PS5 is justified. But more casual players can still be very satisfied with a PS4.
Used PS4 Purchase Tips – What to Look For in 2023
Let‘s dig into some advice if you decide to buy a used PS4 console in 2023 to get the most value:
Aim for Under $200 – Check eBay, Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist for used units priced under $200. Expect to pay $180-220 for a 500GB PS4 Slim in good condition with cables/controller.
Inspect Condition – Test buttons, analog sticks, triggers thoroughly to make sure the controller works properly without stick drift. Check for any scratches/scuffs/damage on the console casing.
Ask About Warranty – Some used retailers include 30-90 day warranties. Opt for this extra protection when available on major purchases.
Check Fan Noise – Boot up games and listen for excessive fan noise or whining that could signal issues. Well-maintained PS4s should still run fairly quietly.
Test Optical Drive – Insert a disc and verify it can read and install data without issue. Laser issues can happen after years of use.
Reinitialize PS4 – Before setting up your PSN account, reinitialize the PS4 system to wipe all previous user data for a clean experience.
Grab Extras for Less – You can find great deals on used PS4 games, extra controllers, PlayStation Plus memberships and more to build out your setup.
PlayStation 4 Support Lifecycle – How Long Will Sony Have Its Back?
Sony has stated they plan to continue supporting the PS4 platform through 2025. However, there will likely be a gradual decline in focus year-by-year. What might that support roadmap look like?
2023 – Still strong PS4 support with most major 3rd party and 1st party games released across both PS4 and PS5. Regular PS4 system updates and features.
2024 – More titles go PS5-exclusive, but PS4 still sees key 3rd party releases. 1st party Sony output likely shifts more strongly to PS5.
2025 – Only a handful of major 3rd party games still support PS4 as PS5 install base grows enormously. Sony ceases PS4 system updates and 1st party game releases.
2026 and Beyond – PlayStation 4 enters end-of-life with no more software releases or system updates. Sony shuts down PS4 multiplayer servers and shifts focus entirely to PS5 user base.
So realistically, 2023 and 2024 represent the remaining "golden years" where purchasing a PS4 still makes great sense and offers strong value for more casual gamers. By 2026, PlayStation 5 will reign supreme.
Is the PS4 Still Worth Buying in 2023?
So, pulling all this analysis together – is the PlayStation 4 still worth buying in 2023?
For budget-focused gamers, families with kids, or those who aren‘t as obsessive about cutting-edge graphics and performance, the PS4 absolutely remains a smart purchase that can provide years of enjoyment without breaking the bank.
However, hardcore gamers wanting bleeding-edge tech and premium experiences shouldn‘t settle for a PS4. The PlayStation 5 is the new standard for incredible graphics, lightning quick load times, high framerates and immersive haptic feedback.
While more expensive, the PS5 is the console of choice for players who want to maximize fidelity and performance. It also offers exclusive access to Sony‘s upcoming first-party megahits.
For most readers, here are my full recommendations on buying a PS4 in 2023:
Ideal Budget – Aim to spend $150-200 on a used PS4 in great condition, under $300 for a new unit. This provides excellent value per hour of entertainment.
Target Console – The PS4 Slim hits the sweet spot of affordability while still providing all the power of the launch PS4. Unless you find an amazing deal, Pro isn‘t worth the premium.
Buy Multiplayer Games – Focus your purchases on games with thriving online communities you can join and play cooperatively or competitively.
PlayStation Plus – This subscription service is crucial for free monthly games and online multiplayer access. Well worth the $60 yearly fee.
Don‘t Overlook Indies – Some of the PS4‘s best experiences are smaller indie titles available digitally. Journey, Celeste, Hollow Knight and many more offer amazing gameplay without breaking the bank.
For the right buyer, the PlayStation 4 absolutely remains a viable console purchase in 2023. It may not dazzle like the PS5, but will provide countless hours of gaming joy on a budget.