Is the Xbox One at $500 Really That Expensive?

Posted on July 3, 2013 8:30 AM by Rob Williams

Growing up, I had a number of video game consoles to play with, but there was one I never obtained but still lusted over. There were a couple of reasons for this; first, the price tag was a ridiculous $650, which to a kid made it seem epic; and second, it essentially brought arcade games home, in their best possible form. Which console am I talking about? The Neo Geo AES, of course.

While Neo Geos can be had for much more reasonable prices today, taking a look at what it cost at launch helps give us some interesting insight into how things are today. The Xbox One, for example, carries a price-tag of $500, which many consider to be much worse than the $400 one the PlayStation 4 has. But is $500 ultimately that bad… really?

Console Pricing Chart - Ars Technica

No, claims Ars Technica – and you might agree after looking through the chart the site has put together. Adjusted for inflation, if the Neo Geo AES was released today, its 1991 pricing would result in a $1,111 price tag. Yes, twice the Xbox One. The 3DO is a bit worse, at $1,127.

Even the Atari 2600 would cost 50% more than today’s Xbox One; released in 1977, it sold for $200. Of the entire bunch, the least-expensive console is Sega’s 32X at $251, which seems fair given it’s an add-on, not a full-blown console. Next up is the Nintendo GameCube ($264), and onward to the Sega Dreamcast ($280) and Nintendo Wii ($290).

This is all interesting, but Ars reader heartburnkid makes a great point: most incomes have not scaled to quite the same effect with inflation. It’d take a while to analyze all of the data, but it seems fair to say that for some, current consoles might have been easier to afford back then, versus today. That said, given all of the technology packed into today’s consoles versus those of old, $500 could be considered a silly number to scoff at. After all, for a cheaper price, I am not sure too many people would be happy with the trade-offs.

  • RainMotorsports

    I laughed pretty hard when people complained about the PS3 price at launch. Idiots can’t understand the cost of manufacturing such a device. Though I could also laugh at Sony for paying IBM/Toshiba for such a ridiculous machine. People from my generation and younger expect everything to be cheap or free at this point. Will never satisfy them I guess. Launch price of the PS4 looks tasty enough.

    • Rob Williams

      I tend to agree. Console makers have always (to my knowledge) taken a loss… but despite not being as powerful as most PCs, these things are STILL packed and priced well when you look at the grand scheme.

  • EssentiaX

    $500 is ridiculous. $400 is too much.
    Just look at the gamecube, around $250 despite being packed with power in its time. The price goes up because of the garbage the manufacturers are putting into the consoles these days, IMHO.
    It’s better to have a console every 5 years than 1 console every 10 years if you ask me. Also, they can cut out all the stuff such as Kinect and multimedia functions to reduce the price and I’ll be happy.
    Anyway, $500? Not a chance. $400? No way. $300? No. $200? Maybe. $150? OK. $100? Absolutely!

    • Steven

      Gamecube should never be used in the same sentence as packed with power.

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