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Should you sell your current video game system?

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The countdown is on for the launches of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, but the next generation won't be cheap. The PlayStation 4 carries a price tag of $400, while the Xbox One is $500 -- and that's not including extra controllers, subscription fees and, oh yeah, the games.

The good news? Those systems sitting in your entertainment center can help you bridge the financial gap. But they may not get you quite as far as you were hoping.

"You basically need the latest iteration of the system (and there so many this generation) with the controller, of course, to hit that $100 target," says David Abrams, owner of Cheap Ass Gamer, which tracks the trade value of games and systems at a number of retailers.

Trade-in values for gaming hardware are constantly changing, but as the new systems get closer (and more and more retail deals begin to appear for existing systems), those values are starting to fall.

Cheap Ass Gamer notes that GameStop is currently paying as much as $110 for an Xbox 360, but it will have to be a top of the line machine. As of September 30, the Slim 320 GB version of the system was commanding top dollar. Comparatively, if you've got one of the older versions -- regardless of whether it was core, premium or a special edition model -- it will get you just $20-$45.

[Related: The 10 Most Expensive Video Game Consoles (gallery)]

Best Buy pays a bit less, offering $90 for a 320 GB Xbox 360, while Amazon's offering the most trade value at the moment. A 320 GB slim Xbox 360 special edition will get you anywhere from $125 to $161, depending on the game it was bundled with. And if you've got an older 'Pro' model, it can earn you up to $75.

Looking to unload your PS3? An original system (the one that looked like a George Foreman grill and was backwards compatible with PS2 games) will get you up to $75, while a 500 GB Super Slim model is worth $100 at GameStop, according to Cheap Ass Gamer. Best Buy will pay you up to $120 for that 500 GB model, depending on condition.

Amazon, again, seems to be paying more, coughing up nearly $100 for the early model, and paying either $135 or $160 for a 500 GB PS3 (again, depending on the game that was part of that bundle).

The upside, of course, comes for people who have held off on purchasing an Xbox 360 or PS3 so far and have no interest in the next generation at this point.

"It's going to be a much better picture for those looking to pick up used hardware, as they will be able to pick up Xbox 360 and PS3s with decent HD space for $100 or so," says Abrams.

If you do trade in your system, be sure to time it right so you're not stuck holding a useless spare controller. Since GameStop trades are done in store, once you decide to cash in your old system, you say goodbye to it. Amazon, though, will give you nearly a month to mail in the system. For people willing to gamble on what the company will be paying down the road, they can hold on to their current console until they have a next-gen system in hand.

Of course, you don’t have to sell your current console to make room for a new one -- and you might not want to.

The next-generation consoles aren't backwards compatible, meaning if you want to enjoy your current catalog of games (including Grand Theft Auto V, for the time being, as no next-gen version has been announced), you better hang on to it. Ditching a current system might also be unappealing to gamers who spend a good deal of time playing multiplayer games with friends. Xbox One gamers won’t be playing on the same online servers as Xbox 360 gamers, for instance, so you’ll need your friends to pick up a new rig if you want to keep the online party going.

It's also worth remembering that with many millions of current-gen consoles already in living rooms, game makers aren't going to abandon the Xbox 360 and PS3 any time soon. That's a much heftier install base than what they'll find in the first year or so with the PS4 and Xbox One. In turn, many hotly-anticipated upcoming games like Bungie's Destiny and EA's Titanfall will come out for current-gen as well.

Of course, there's nothing quite like having a shiny new box to play with, and considering the unprecedented length of time we've all waited between consoles generations, investing in a new system is tempting. If you're strapped for cash, selling your current system will certainly help...but the longer you wait, the less help it will be.

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