Console launch prices compared over 35 years

Gamasutra’s Matt Matthews recently put an article together comparing the launch prices of various consoles released over the past 35 years, all adjusted to compensate for inflation. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has a free online inflation calculator which is able to convert cash amounts from earlier periods of time into equivalent cash amounts today – this tool was used to convert the launch prices of these consoles into modern currency.

What we’re left with is a pretty interesting picture that many might find a little surprising. As it turns out, the Xbox 360 was one of the cheapest consoles ever released, and even the PS3 didn’t fair too badly, coming out cheaper than the likes of the Sega Saturn, 3DS, Atari 5200, Odyssey, and Intellivision.

Nintendo is definitely the leader when it comes to making consoles affordable, as is illustrated by the GameCube, Nintendo 64, SNES, Wii, and NES, which are among the most affordable consoles ever released. The Wii U’s US$300 launch price tag will also make it one of the most affordable consoles ever launched if we take inflation into account.

NeoGeo console – The most expensive console ever

The most expensive console ever released was the NeoGeo, which was released in 1990 and cost US$649.99, which even without adjusting for inflation is pretty crazy. If we adjust for inflation, the console cost US$1,138 (±R9, 445). For just under R10K you got yourself 64KB of video memory and a 12MHz Motorola CPU. Despite its ridiculous price, the NeoGeo actually didn’t bomb completely, and the last official cartridge was released in 2004, giving the console a lifespan of 14 years.

NeoGeo cartridge

Since the Nintendo 64 was released in 1996, console prices have levelled out to become generally more affordable than they were in the early 90’s and 80’s, although Sony bucked this trend with the PlayStation and then again with the PlayStation 3, which is the most expensive console we’ve seen since the Sega Saturn, which was released in 1995.

With Nintendo’s next-gen cards now on the table, it remains to be seen when Microsoft and Sony plan to launch their own new consoles, and what sort of price points we will see from them.

Source: Gamasutra; Headline image credit: Consollection

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Console launch prices compared over 35 years

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