The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and S heralded a new generation of console gaming. Because backward compatibility is so important to this generation, you may not be able to use much more with your old console. So what do you do with an old console that you no longer need?
Consider donating your old consoles
One of the most impactful things you can do with your old console is to donate to a charity. This could be a children̵
Giving your old console to a thrift store or selling it online through eBay for Charity can also make a difference as you are raising money for a good cause.
We recommend that you contact institutions by phone or email first to learn more about their policies for accepting donated goods. Also, don’t forget to bring old games, controllers and peripherals that you no longer need.
You can also donate directly to friends, neighbors or anyone else who you think can get some entertainment out of your old console. Not everyone can afford a brand new system, and not everyone is invested enough in video games to spend a few hundred dollars. You could spark a passion for video games in someone who has never touched a controller.
If you own a PlayStation 4 and you upgrade to the PS5, you’re less likely to play your old games on the older system thanks to the PS5’s backward compatibility. Newer consoles run older games better, often with improvements or optimized versions. The same can be said for the Xbox Series X and Series S, both of which are backwards compatible with different generations of Xbox.
Use your old console as a media center
Both the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 (as well as older consoles such as the Xbox 360 and Wii U) have apps for accessing most major streaming services. This includes premium streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and Disney +, free streaming services such as YouTube, music from Spotify and Pandora, or live streaming platforms such as Twitch.
While the PlayStation 4 can play DVDs and regular HD Blu-Rays, the Xbox One can handle 4K discs with a 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 hook up your old console and somewhere to put it on. You can use an external USB stick to add storage, with both the Xbox One and PS4 supporting external hard drives.
Game streaming is also a viable option
Sony has 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 the hardware. The service is often touted for its emphasis on older PS2 and PS3 titles, but modern PS4 titles are also included.
(Microsoft has its own Xbox Cloud Gaming streaming service, but it can only stream to Android devices. You can’t stream games to an old console.)
If you’ve already bought a PS5, you can use your PS4 to stream games to your console over your local network. This allows you to play PS5 games on your PS4, provided your network can handle the task. This means you can stream games from your PS5 in the living room to a PS4 in your bedroom at glorious 1080p resolution.
Network performance will affect game streaming viability, both in terms of online streaming and local remote play. If you’re going for local play, a wired ethernet connection will give you a more consistent experience.
Better multiplayer and co-op gaming
Even though the next generation of game consoles is already here, your old consoles should work fine for at least a few more years. If you have several gamers in the house, two consoles can help keep the calm. Playing together is often more fun than playing alone.
One of the most compelling reasons to stick with your old console is for multiplayer purposes. Two consoles mean that two players can play together, each with their own display. There are tons of multiplayer experiences you can take advantage of, including co-op campaigns, competitive online play, and survival sandbox games.
This includes games such as 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 great fun to explore together. Hectic shooters love Borderlands can lead to split-screen performance loss, but that’s an issue you won’t have if you’re both using separate consoles.
Cross-play is also becoming more common, with games such as Minecraft, Rocket League, Call of Duty: Warzone, and Battlefield V. so players can play together regardless of whether they use Sony, Microsoft or PC hardware.
With PS4 and Xbox One games considered the last generation, game prices will drop. You can find more used ones at thrift stores and online marketplaces. There are bargains to be found, but the games are still as good as ever.
Watch the homebrew scene
Homebrew is user-developed software designed to run on closed systems, such as game consoles. It requires you to bypass protections set by the manufacturer to run custom code. Once you have access to the console’s operating system, you can install your own apps.
How far you get with homebrew ultimately depends on the console you have, how technically proficient you are, and often, how lucky you are. If you have a Wii or a Wii U, you’ll have a wealth of homebrew at your disposal, including user-created channels, emulators and launchers to load games straight from the disc.
Reddit communities like r / WiiHacks and r / ps4homebrew are a huge help when trying this kind of thing. There are numerous risks involved, and you could – possibly – brick your console completely. You also want to avoid using primary accounts (which you still use or have used to buy games) as companies like Nintendo and Sony often ban users they suspect are hacking.
The Xbox One remains one of the few consoles that is never “hacked” for use with homebrew. Despite this, Microsoft supports a developer mode that allows you to run Universal Windows Program (UWP) apps on your Xbox, provided you install them yourself. By doing this, you can save your Xbox One or Xbox Series X | Using S console as an emulation box.
Whether or not it’s worth it to you in the end depends on the level of risk you’re comfortable with and what you want to use the console for. Emulators are a popular choice thanks to projects such as RetroArch. Make sure you understand the legal implications of emulation and ROMs.
RELATED: How to install the RetroArch Emulator on Xbox Series X or S.
Dead or dying console? Try to fix it yourself
You could sell your “broken” console on eBay for a pittance, or you could try to fix it yourself. This can be a rewarding experience learning a thing or two about hardware. After all, if you know what’s broken, you can find spare consoles on eBay for a pittance.
The most common problems are disk drives no longer reading disks and blank hard drives. These are relatively easy parts to swap out, and you can even upgrade components like the hard drive while you’re at it to increase the console’s overall capacity.
You may have other problems such as a diminishing fan, poor thermal performance (heat dissipation) due to dust build-up, or buttons that no longer work as expected. iFixit can help you navigate your way around the hardware, while communities like Reddit’s r / console pair provide constructive feedback. Then there’s YouTube, with endless video tutorials from enthusiasts to get you started.
Be careful and know what you are doing before opening the console. You can still give yourself a nasty shock even with the console turned off and unplugged. You will likely need a few basic tools, such as an anti-static wrist strap or mat and a screwdriver set, before diving in.
A console you repaired yourself can last for many years to come, which is better than letting it die a premature death like a pile of electronic waste.
Are you going to upgrade to the next generation?
The PS4 and Xbox One may qualify as ‘last generation’ at this point, but they are not Which old. Games are still being released for these platforms and will take years. Because the dust settles on the generation, used discs are getting cheaper. There is still a lot of life on these platforms.
But when you finally decide it’s time for an upgrade, take a moment to think about what’s best for your old hardware, instead of letting the dust collect under the TV.
Ready to pull the trigger on a new console? This is why you should avoid the all-digital versions.
RELATED: Why you shouldn’t buy a next-generation fully digital PS5 or Xbox