The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and S have ushered in a new generation of console gaming. Since backward compatibility is so important this generation, you might not have much use for your old console. So what do you do with an old console that you no longer need?
Consider donating your old consoles
By far one of the most important things you can do with your old console is donate it to charity. This could be a children’s hospital or domestic violence shelter in your area, or a charity established like Player awareness (United States) or Get the players well (UNITED KINGDOM.).
Donate your old console to a thrift store or sell it online via eBay for charity can also make a difference since you will be raising money for a good cause.
We recommend that you first contact the institutions by phone or email to learn more about their policies for accepting donated goods. Don’t forget to include old games, controllers, and peripherals that you no longer need either.
You can also donate directly to friends, neighbors, or anyone else who you think might enjoy the entertainment of your old console. Not everyone can afford a brand new system, and not everyone has invested enough in video games to spend a few hundred dollars. You might spark a passion for video games in someone who has never touched a controller before.
If you own a PlayStation 4 and are upgrading to the PS5, you are less likely to play your old games on the old system thanks to the PS5 backwards compatibility. Newer consoles perform better on older games, often with improvements or upgraded versions. The same can be said for the Xbox Series X and Series S, both backward compatible with several generations of Xbox.
Use your old console as a media center
The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 (as well as older consoles like the Xbox 360 and Wii U) have apps to access most of the major streaming services. This includes premium streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney +, free streaming services like YouTube, music from Spotify and Pandora, or live streaming platforms like Twitch.
While the PlayStation 4 can play regular HD DVDs and Blu-Rays, the Xbox One is capable of handling 4K discs in high dynamic range. Both consoles can play files from USB storage, with the Xbox One family even supporting x265 (HEVC) files.
All you need is a TV or monitor to plug in your old console and a place to put it. You can use an external USB drive to add storage, as the Xbox One and PS4 support external hard drives.
Game streaming is also a viable option
Sony offers a game streaming service called PS now. This premium service allows you to stream games from the Internet directly to your console without being limited by hardware. The service is often touted for its focus on older PS2 and PS3 titles, but modern PS4 titles are included as well.
(Microsoft has its own Xbox Cloud Games streaming service, but it can only stream to Android devices. You cannot stream games to an older console.)
If you’ve purchased a PS5 before, you can use your PS4 to stream games to your console through your local network. This allows you to play PS5 games on your PS4, provided your network is up to the task. This means that you can stream games from your PS5 living room to a PS4 in your bedroom at 1080p resolution.
Network performance will affect the viability of game streaming, both in terms of online streaming and local remote playback. If you go for local gaming, a wired Ethernet connection will give you a more consistent experience.
Best multiplayer and cooperative game
Even if the next generation of gaming consoles is already here, your old consoles should perform well for at least a few years. If you have multiple players in your home, two consoles can help you keep the peace. Playing together is often more fun than playing alone.
One of the most compelling reasons to keep your old console is for multiplayer purposes. Two consoles allow two players to play together, each with their own screen. There are tons of multiplayer experiences that can benefit you, including co-op campaigns, competitive online games, and survival sandbox games.
This includes games like Halo, where entire campaigns can be played together. Fallout 76, Sea of Thieves, and Red Dead Redemption 2 all offer immersive online worlds that are a lot of fun to explore together. Choppy shooters like the Borderlands may experience drops in split-screen performance, but that’s an issue you won’t have if you’re both using separate consoles.
Cross-play is also growing in popularity, with games like Minecraft, Rocket League, Call of Duty: Warzone, and Battlefield V allowing players to play together whether or not they are using Sony, Microsoft, or PC hardware.
With PS4 and Xbox One games now being considered next-gen, game prices will drop. You will find more used copies in thrift stores and online markets. There are some great bargains to be found, but the games are still as good as they always have been.
Discover the Homebrew scene
Homebrew is user-developed software designed to run on closed systems such as game consoles. It requires you to bypass the protections put in place by the manufacturer to run custom code. Once you have access to the console operating system, you can install your own applications.
How far you go with homebrew ultimately depends on what console you have, your tech skills, and most of the time, how lucky you are. If you own a Wii or Wii U, you’ll find a plethora of homebrew available to you, including user-created channels, emulators, and launchers for loading games directly from disc.
Reddit communities like r / WiiHacks and r / ps4homebrew are a great help in attempting this sort of thing. There is a lot of risk involved, and you could – possibly – end up brick your console entirely. You’ll also want to avoid using master accounts (the ones you still use or have used to purchase games), as companies like Nintendo and Sony often ban users suspected of hacking.
The Xbox One remains one of the only consoles to never be “hacked” for use with a homebrew. Despite this, Microsoft supports a developer mode that allows you to run Universal Windows Program (UWP) apps on your Xbox, as long as you install them yourself. By doing this you can use your Xbox One or Xbox Series X console | S as emulation box.
Whether it is worth it for you depends on how much risk you feel comfortable with and also how you want to use the console. Emulators are a popular choice thanks to projects like RetroArch. Just make sure you understand the legal implications of emulation and ROMs.
Dead or dying console? Try to fix it yourself
You can sell your “broken” console for a pittance on eBay, or you can try to fix it yourself. It can be a rewarding experience where you learn a thing or two about the material. If you know what’s broken, you can find aftermarket consoles on eBay for a pittance after all.
The most common problems are disk drives that no longer read dead disks and hard drives. These are relatively easy parts to replace, and you can even upgrade components like the hard drive while you’re at it to increase the overall capacity of the console.
You may have other issues like a dying fan, poor thermal performance (heat dissipation) due to dust buildup, or buttons that no longer work as expected. I fix it can help you navigate the material, while communities like Reddit r / consolerepair provide constructive feedback. Then there’s YouTube, with endless video tutorials from enthusiasts to help you through the process.
Just be careful and make sure you know what you are doing before you open the console. You can still give yourself a bad shock even if the console is turned off and unplugged. You’ll probably need a few basic tools, like an anti-static wrist strap or mat and a screwdriver set, before you dive in.
A console that you repaired yourself can live for many years to come, which is better than having it die prematurely as a pile of electronic waste.
Are you going to move on to the next generation?
The PS4 and Xbox One can be called “last generation” at this point, but they’re not that old. Games have always been released for these platforms and will be for years to come. As the dust settles on the generation, used drives will continue to get cheaper. There is still a lot of life on these platforms.
But when you finally decide it’s time to upgrade, take a moment to think about what’s best for your old hardware rather than just letting it collect dust under the TV.
Ready to pull the trigger on a new console? Here’s why you should avoid all-digital versions.