The Cost of Gaming Since the 1970s

Published: Thursday, March 19, 2020 - 11:00 | By: Robert Grosso
How Much Do Games and Consoles Cost Now?

Video games are an expensive hobby. All of us as fans of the medium spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on games and consoles across the board to provide us with experiences all to our own. But here is a question: How much would games cost now?

One thing that is always discussed is how games and consoles have become less expensive nowadays because of how they have been adjusted for inflation. A NES from over 30 years ago would be more expensive if released today, and it is a fun little factoid to investigate when you consider how prices continue to rise. So, the following guide is designed to look at the prices of consoles and games and see what they would cost when adjusted for inflation. 

 
 

Price of the Atari 2600

Atari 2600

The “first” home console release by Atari, the 2600 would stay in production until 1992. Despite being a part of the video-game crash of 1983, the system sold over 30 million units in its lifetime, with tons of now-classic titles such as Pitfall!, Yars’ Revenge, Asteroids, and Adventure in its library.

Cost at Launch (1977): $199.99
Cost Today (2020):  $853.68
Average Game Cost (1977): $39.99
Average Game Cost (2020): $170.70

Price of the Mattel Intellivision

Intellivision

Released the same year as the Atari 2600, the Intellivision would be the primary “rival” to the Atari 2600 in the early years of the console wars. Discontinued in 1990, the system would sell over three million units by 1983 and feature a ton of popular games such as Utopia, Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, and Major League Baseball.

Cost at Launch (1979): $229.99
Cost Today (2020): $1,068.88
Average Game Cost (1979): $39.99
Average Game Cost (2020): $142.49

Price of the ColecoVision

ColecoVision

Another rival to the Atari 2600, the ColecoVision was one of the first attempts to mimic the arcade experience in a home console. Though it would be discontinued in 1985, some of the games on the system would become massive successes in the arcades and later other consoles. This would include Sega’s Zaxxon, Universal Entertainment’s Lady Bug, and Nintendo’s Donkey Kong.

 

Cost at Launch (1982): $175.99
Cost Today (2020): $471. 76
Average Game Cost: (1982): $39.99
Average Game Cost (2020): $107.20

Price of the Nintendo Entertainment System

NES

The grandfather of modern video game consoles, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) is one of the greatest consoles of all time. The NES would sell over 61 million units worldwide across its lifetime, and introducing world-class titles such as The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, and Super Mario Bros.

Cost at Launch (1985): $179.99
Cost Today (2020): $432.71
Average Game Cost (1985): $45.00
Average Game Cost (2020): $108.18

 

Price of the Nintendo Game Boy

Game Boy

A massive game changer, bringing games on the go with the Nintendo Game Boy was a big gamble in 1989. Lasting over 10 years before it was discontinued in 2003, and netting Nintendo over 118 million units sold, the Game Boy had a ton of best sellers in its repertoire, from Super Mario Land to Tetris, to the monster that is Pokémon.

Cost at Launch (1989): $89.99
Cost Today (2020): $187.73
Average Game Cost: (1989): $29.99
Average Game Cost (2020): $62.56

Price of the Sega Genesis

Sega Genesis

The real start of the console wars with the Sega Genesis, Sega’s second console would be among its most successful, netting over 30 million units sold by the time the console was discontinued in 1997. Home to tons of great games, some of the standouts include Ecco the Dolphin, Altered Beast, and of course, the start of the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise.

Cost at Launch (1989): $189.99
Cost Today (2020): $396.34
Average Game Cost (1989): $49.99
Average Game Cost (2020): $104.28

Price of the TurboGrafx-16

TurboGrafx-16

The distant third place in the early ‘90s console war, the TurboGrafx-16 by Hudson Soft would fail to break into the mainstream market in the U.S. Though it sold about 5.8 million units worldwide, the console’s life was sadly short, from 1989 to 1993. Still, some games on the system have become classics, including R-Type, Fantasy Zone, Soldier Blade, and Bonk’s Adventure.

Cost at Launch (1989): $199.99
Cost Today (2020): $417.20
Average Game Cost (1989): $49.99
Average Game Cost (2020):  $104.28

Price of the Super Nintendo

Super Nintendo

The rival to the Sega Genesis, the Super Nintendo (SNES) would be another massive success for Nintendo, netting over 49 million units sold between 1990 and 2003. A ton of classic titles were released on the system, from Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Mario World, Donkey Kong Country, and Street Fighter II.

Cost at Launch (1990): $199.99
Cost Today (2020): $395.81
Average Game Cost (1990): $59.99
Average Game Cost (2020): $118.73

Price of the Neo Geo

NeoGeo

Considered the ‘hardcore for hardcores’ in terms of consoles, the Neo Geo had a long tenure from 1990 to 2004 had some of the crispest arcade-like titles on the console market. One of the most expensive consoles ever made, with some of the most expensive game cartridges on the market, over a million units were confirmed sold, with major titles including the King of Fighters series, the Fatal Fury series, and the Metal Slug series.

Cost at Launch (1990): $649.99
Cost Today (2020): $1,286.44
Average Game Cost (1990): $199.99
Average Game Cost (2020):  $395.81

Price of the Atari Jaguar

Atari Jaguar

The last Atari console ever created, the Jaguar was a massive failure for Atari, which failed to capture any lost momentum from Nintendo or Sega. With only three years on the market from 1993 to 1996, less than 250,000 units were sold. Some games on the system are still worthwhile though, including Tempest 2000, Doom, and Aliens vs. Predator.

Cost at Launch (1993): $249.99
Cost Today (2020): $447.52
Average Game Cost (1993): $49.99
Average Game Cost (2020):  $89.49

Price of the Sony PlayStation

PlayStation

The original PlayStation was a breath of fresh air in 1995, netting over 102 units sold by the time it was discontinued in 2006. Numerous classic games made their appearance on the first successful CD-based console, including Final Fantasy VII, Gran Turismo, Resident Evil, and Tomb Raider.

Cost at Launch (1995): $299.99
Cost Today (2020): $509.19
Average Game Cost (1995): $49.99
Average Game Cost (2020): $84.85

Price of the Nintendo 64

N64

The Nintendo 64 may have been second fiddle to the PlayStation, but it was still a powerhouse system that sold close to 33 million units. It is also chock-full of classic titles, including Super Mario 64, Super Smash Bros., and of course, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

Cost at Launch (1996): $199
Cost Today (2020): $329.72
Average Game Cost (1996): $49.99
Average Game Cost (2020):  $82.42

Price of the Game Boy Color

Game Boy Color

The long-awaited successor to the Game Boy, the Game Boy Color had a short shelf-life compared to its original handheld cousin but was a big hit. Netting over 118 million units sold, through multiple variations of the system (a trend Nintendo will follow with future handhelds) the Game Boy Color’s biggest successes were continuations of major franchises, such as Tetris DX, Wario Land III, and the juggernaut Pokémon Gold and Silver, which sold 23 million units alone for the console.

Cost at Launch (1998): $89.99
Cost Today (2020): $142.81
Average Game Cost (1998): $34.99
Average Game Cost (2020): $55.53

Price of the Sega Dreamcast

Sega Dreamcast

The swan song for Sega in the console market, the Dreamcast is a vastly underrated system that was more a victim of circumstance and poor marketing over any failings the system had. It was a modest success, selling 9.13 million units between 1999 and 2001, and has several classic titles in its library. Among them include Sonic Adventure, Soulcalibur, and Shenmue.

Cost at Launch (1999): $199.99
Cost Today (2020): $310.52
Average Game Cost (1999): $49.99
Average Game Cost (2020): $77.62

Price of the PlayStation 2

PlayStation 2

The best-selling console of all time, the PlayStation 2 is perhaps second to the NES in terms of importance and dominance in the console market, and in some circles first. With 155 million units sold worldwide, the PlayStation 2 boasts a library of over 3,000 games, with some standouts being Final Fantasy X, Shadow of the Colossus, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

Cost at Launch (2000): $299.99
Cost Today (2020): $450.64
Average Game Cost (2000): $49.99
Average Game Cost (2020):  $75.09

Price of the Game Boy Advance

Game Boy Advance

Despite the quick turnaround from the Game Boy Color, the Game Boy Advance would last until 2010 and net in over 81 million units sold. Once again spearheaded by the hot sales of Pokémon titles like Ruby and Sapphire, other big games on the handheld included Mario Kart: Super Circuit, Super Mario Advance, and the Pac-Man Collection.

Cost at Launch (2001): $99.99
Cost Today (2020): $146.13
Average Game Cost (2001): $34.99
Average Game Cost (2020): $51.14

Price of the Nintendo GameCube

GameCube

While not a heavy hitter like the PlayStation 2, the GameCube was still able to net 21 million in sales worldwide between 2001 and 2007. It is also home to a lot of popular games, though like most Nintendo consoles it is chock full of first-party titles. Some standouts include Pikmin 2, Resident Evil 4, Super Smash Bros. Melee, and The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker.

Cost at Launch (2001): $199.99
Cost Today (2020): $292.28
Average Game Cost (2001): $49.99
Average Game Cost (2020): $73.06

Price of the Microsoft Xbox

Microsoft Xbox

The Xbox was Microsoft’s first foray into the console market, and it almost failed out of the gate. Thanks to the strength of Xbox Live and a few popular titles, it was able to net 24 million units sold between 2001 and 2009. Several franchises would be launched with the system, and new classics, such as Halo, Ninja Gaiden Black, Dead or Alive 3, and MechAssault.

Cost at Launch (2001): $299.99
Cost Today (2020):  $438.42
Average Game Cost (2001): $49.99
Average Game Cost (2020): $73.06

Price of the Nintendo DS

Nintendo DS

The Nintendo DS quickly became the successor to the Game Boy Advance and would see Nintendo continuing the trend of multiple versions of the systems over the console’s life. All versions of the DS would sell a combined 152 million units, the second best-selling console of all time behind the PlayStation 2. Notable games include New Super Mario Bros., Pokémon Black and White, Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver, Nintendogs, and Brain Age.

Cost at Launch (2004): $149.99
Cost Today (2020): $205.39
Average Game Cost (2004):  $34.99
Average Game Cost (2020): $47.91

Price of the PlayStation Portable

PlayStation Portable

The attempted rival to the DS, the PlayStation Portable (PSP) was a moderate success despite facing the juggernaut that was the DS. Selling about 80 million units, the PSP was the only handheld system to use universal media discs, or UMDs, as their primary media format. Top games included Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, Monster Hunter Portable 3rd, and Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII.

Cost at Launch (2005): $249.99
Cost Today (2020): $331.12
Average Game Cost (2005): $49.99
Average Game Cost (2020): $66.21

Price of the Xbox 360

Xbox 360

The most successful Microsoft system, the Xbox 360 was a massive leap forward in using Xbox Live to deliver downloadable content and digital games to a wider audience. Over 84 million units were sold between 2005 and 2016, with tons of new franchises started by Microsoft that have become popular classics. Most notably this includes Gears of War, but other hallmark titles include Viva Piñata, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

Cost at Launch (2005): $299.99
Cost Today (2020):  $397.34
Average Game Cost (2005): $59.99
Average Game Cost (2020): $79.46

Price of the PlayStation 3

PlayStation 3

The PlayStation 3 had multiple iterations of the system, similar to the DS and other consoles. Overall though, the system is considered a distant third when it was released in 2006. The system still sold over 87 million units worldwide by 2017, surpassing the Xbox 360, though it took a long time in the mid-2000s to find its footing. Notable games include Demon's Souls and Dark Souls, The Last of Us, and the Uncharted series.

Cost at Launch (2006): $499.99
Cost Today (2020): $641.55
Average Game Cost (2006): $59.99
Average Game Cost (2020): $76.97

Price of the Nintendo Wii

Nintendo Wii

Massively popular, the Nintendo Wii was a game changer thanks to its control scheme and casual accessibility, with over 101 million units sold. Games for the Wii were still being released as late as 2019, with Just Dance 2020 being the last game for the system. Despite tons of shovelware titles that were dumped onto the system, major franchises saw innovations on the Wii, such as The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and Super Mario Galaxy, plus new franchises such as Wii Sports and Wii Fit joining the fold.

Cost at Launch (2006): $249.99
Cost Today (2020): $320.77
Average Game Cost (2006): $49.99
Average Game Cost (2020): $64.14

Price of the Nintendo 3DS

Nintendo 3DS

Despite being off to a rocky start, the Nintendo 3DS became a big hit for audiences throughout the 2010s. With 71.71 million units sold and a trove of games, the 3DS followed the legacy of Nintendo’s previous handhelds in creating multiple variations of the system and tons of great games, including Mario Kart 7, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Bravely Default, and Pokémon Sun and Moon.

Cost at Launch (2011): $249.99
Cost Today (2020): $287.49
Average Game Cost (2011): $39.99
Average Game Cost (2020):  $45.99

Price of the PlayStation Vita

PlayStation Vita

The PlayStation Vita was a system that had promise, but it failed to catch onto a wider audience like the PSP. The system only sold 16 million units worldwide, but it has a massive cult following that enjoys the high-quality games and extra features attached to it. Some major titles for the system included Tearaway, Gravity Rush, and Uncharted: Golden Abyss.

Cost at Launch (2012): $249.99
Cost Today (2020): $281.66
Average Game Cost (2012): $49.99
Average Game Cost (2020): $56.32

Price of the Wii U

Nintendo Wii U

The Wii U, the followup to the highly successful Nintendo Wii, was not a major success, failing to capture the same magic as its predecessor, with only 13.56 million units sold worldwide. Though the Wii U would be a failure, it would pave the way for the features found in its successor, the Nintendo Switch, and would be the home to tons of good titles, such as Splatoon, Mario Kart 8, and Super Mario 3D World.

Cost at Launch (2012): $349.99
Cost Today (2020): $394.33
Average Game Cost (2012): $59.99
Average Game Cost (2020): $67.59

Price of the PlayStation 4

PlayStation 4

As of 2019, the PlayStation 4 has shipped over 106 million units, marking it a success for Sony after the weaker performance of the PS3. Like most games this generation, tons of titles from the previous one would be remastered and brought to the console, though brand new titles have become massive hits as well, some of which becoming bigger and better thanks to the advent of DLC and patching. Some of these titles include Dragon Age: Inquisition, Bloodborne, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and No Man’s Sky.

Cost at Launch (2013): $399.99
Cost Today (2020): $444.15
Average Game Cost (2013): $59.99
Average Game Cost (2020): $66.61

Price of the Xbox One

Xbox One

The Xbox One had a rocky start in 2013, but has now become a more prominent system. Sales numbers by Microsoft have not been released since 2014, but unofficial estimates put the console between 40–50 million units sold worldwide. Like the PS4, a ton of games include remasters and remakes, but some notable titles include Gears 5, Sea of Thieves, Red Dead Redemption 2, and The Outer Worlds.

Cost at Launch (2013): $499.99
Cost Today (2020): $555.19
Average Game Cost (2013): $59.99
Average Game Cost (2020): $66.61

Price of the Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch

A smash success when it first debuted, the Nintendo Switch is on track to becoming one of the best selling consoles of all time, with around 52 million units sold as of late 2019 in just three years. Part portable and part console, the Switch has been given critical acclaim for its style and its increasing game library, embracing the indie scene like no console before it. Standout titles include Super Mario Odyssey, Splatoon 2, Octopath Traveler, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Cost at Launch (2017): $299.99
Cost Today (2020): $316.58
Average Game Cost (2017): $59.99
Average Game Cost (2020): $63.31


Any other consoles that should be added to this list? Leave your comments below. 


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Staff Writer

A game playing, college teaching scholar who happens to write some articles every so often. Enjoys penning long-form articles that few probably read. Love the art of gaming, preservation, collecting and RPGs. Have worked as a journalist, critic, educator and blogger for over ten years now, with articles published (as user editorials) on Game Revolution and Giant Bomb as well as a contributor for the websites Angry Bananas and Blistered Thumbs. Now making TechRaptor my home.