Comparing the Consoles: 35 Years of Video Game Console Launch Prices Read more at htt
Looking Into the Past, Will You Change Your Mind?
Since Nintendo’s unveiling of the Wii U’s price two weeks ago ($300 for the Basic model and $350 for the Deluxe model), some disgruntled gamers and analysts have decried the entry level system as simply too high, citing examples of the most common entry price for current gen video game consoles as $250. A quick peek through online retailer Amazon shows a brand new Microsoft Xbox 360 4GB console with Kinect as $250, as well as the Sony PlayStation 3 160 GB System, and Nintendo’s Wii as $240 (with the bundles running slightly higher of course.)
Heck, even I myself turned to my friend when the price was revealed thinking, “Hmm, that’s higher than I expected,” and debated whether I should pre-order or not.
But if we are to take a step back and looking to 2005 and 2006, you may recall that the original Xbox 360 Core launched for $300 ($400 for the Premium), whilst the PS3 20 GB model was $500 ($600 for the 60 GB model) respectively. Look back even further (or simply recall if you’re an older gamer like myself), and you’ll see that a number of video game consoles which launched at even steeper price points, such as the NeoGeo for $650 in 1990 and the 3DO for a whopping $700 in 1991.
So is it true? Is the Wii U‘s price tag really that over-priced or even ridiculous as some have said? And how exactly does the Wii U stack up to all the video game consoles launched these past 35 years?
As I was compiling data over the years, I stumbled upon an already existent list, so here is the full list of video game console launch prices starting with the Atari 2600:
Now, in case you were unaware, what a person was able to purchase for $200 back in 1977 when the Atari 2600 was first released, and what you are able to purchase for $200 in 2012 when the Wii U will be released, are in entirely different ball parks.
Visiting the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics online inflation calculator shows that 1977′s $200 able to purchase $760 of goods in 2012. A caveat must be made however that the online inflation calculator was created by analyzing data for household goods such as food, clothing and entertainment, and is not a metric necessarily calibrated towards video game consoles or consumer electronics specifically.
With that in mind, here are those very same video game console launch prices adjusted for inflation over 35 years as compiled by Matt Matthews, an Assistant Professor of Math at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga:
Additionally, take a look at this graph of the best selling video game consoles by unit compiled by Reddit member JimmyNice:
So what are a few things we could we possibly take away from this data that the lovely denizens of the internet were so kind to compile?
First and foremost, that the lower costs of technology is allowing present day gamers a greater deal of entertainment than ever before indeed, at least cost of console wise (the quality of games offered wise is a different article all together!) Second, that the most successful early consoles such as the NES and Master System would have cost approximately $400 today, and the Genesis and SNES for around $350, consistent with the Wii U’s pricing.
Last but not least, we also see that setting a cheaper price on a video game console such as the Dreamcast and GameCube which were released for $260-ish doesn’t necessarily lead to success in the sales department. This can be clearly seen when combining the figures from the second and third charts, which shows the higher priced consoles such as the original PlayStation, PlayStation 2, the original Xbox and Xbox 360, releasing all above $350 selling the most in terms of units. (Additionally, keep in mind that with the Xbox 360, there’s also the hidden monthly cost of Xbox Live not being added to the base model price, which would add even more to its final price.)
And now that you’ve seen the comparison over time, what do you guys think about both the Wii U’s price, and the newest PS3′s pricing? Have your minds been changed about the pricing in anyway, pro or con after seeing the comparisons?
After having my memories of console buying immediately at launch jogged for me by the charts, I would have to respond to the affirmative, and positively toward Nintendo’s new system at that. I’m honestly no longer sure why I thought the price to be slightly above what I expected in the first place, considering that I was one of the folks who picked up both the higher priced Xbox 360 the PS3 immediately on release, but I admit, I had completely forgotten about those purchases I had made so many years ago.
Despite what my good sense is telling me–that these are but arbitrary prices set by the game companies–on an emotional level, I cannot help but feel that value-wise, that $350 price for the Deluxe version of the Wii U is looking better and better, especially since it would be the first official entry into the fabled land of next-gen video game consoles (not to mention the potential lurking in Nintendo’s first party exclusives).
And now I wallow in self-loathing for finding my resolve against purchasing yet another system at launch–systems now collecting dust as I focus more attention to PC gaming–crumbling steadily.