When you take into account inflation $600 for PS3 ain’t so bad.

The folks over at Curmudgeon Gamer were intrigued by the uproar over the announced prices for the PS3 and decided to figure out if the price was really that unreasonable compared to previous consoles. So they sat down and came up with two graphs comparing them.

The first is an absolute comparison using the prices listed at the time the systems were launched and, if you’ve been following the video game industry for any amount of time, you won’t be surprised to learn that $600 for the top end PS3 is not the worst price a console has ever debuted at. In fact it’s beaten by two quite older machines: The Neo Geo ($650 at launch) and the 3DO ($700 at launch). I did eventually buy a 3DO back in the day, but not before the price dropped to around $300, which it did pretty damn quickly.

The second chart is the relative comparison where they take into account inflation and at which point the PS3 and the Xbox 360 seem kinda cheap even for the high end model. The venerable Atari 2600, for example, had a launch price of $200 back in 1977 when it first hit store shelves. In today’s dollars that comes out to about $659.41 so you could say that the new PS3 is cheaper than an Atari 2600, but the difference in quality is so much better. Another interesting aspect of the comparison is the fact that each successive Nintendo console has been cheaper than the previous one when you adjust for inflation.

The problem, of course, is that I don’t have 1977 era dollars in my pocket and even if I did their value wouldn’t be the same as it was back in 1977. So while I might technically be spending less money today than I did for the Atari 2600 back in the day (and I didn’t actually buy my 2600, my poor dad did) I don’t think my wife is going to let me win that argument and buy a new PS3 as soon as it hits store shelves.

Me: But honey! It’s technically CHEAPER than an Atari 2600 so I’m actually SAVING us money!

Mrs. SEB: Right. I love you, but kiss my ass sweetheart. It’s still $600 we don’t have.

Still, you can’t blame a guy for trying.

12 thoughts on “When you take into account inflation $600 for PS3 ain’t so bad.

  1. Think about this. The PS3 is as much as an Apple Mac Mini. The cost of a whole computer for just a gaming console.

    I don’t care what it does, I’m never paying that much money for a gaming console.

  2. One big difference: The PS3 has games on it. The Mac… not so much. wink

    Though I’ve said before that I’ll probably wait for the price to drop a time or two before I try getting one. Unless I get a huge raise sometime soon… or win the lottery… or have a long-lost rich Aunt I didn’t know about die and leave me money…

  3. PS3 has games on it. The Mac… not so much.

    But does the PS3 have Squirrel Kombat on it?  Better go with the Mac, Les…

  4. OK, zilch, how about a decent Dell system then. My point was that $600 is way to much for a game console. Especially in light of the fact that the XBox 360 and Nintendo systems are so much cheaper.

  5. Also, forgot to point out that the Mac has a fair list of games on it and more are joining the ranks every month.

    For me, WoW and GTA:SA are all I really play now anyway. Well, OK, Oblivion too. I don’t plan on getting rid of my Windows system any time soon. Just planning on getting a brand spanking new Apple PowerMac Tower (when they switch it to Intel that is). smile

  6. I think you meant me there, Dave. As I said previously, I’ve no plans to rush out and plunk down $600 for a new PS3 and I have a feeling that’s going to be relatively true for a lot of people so there’s no disagreement there. That said there have been worse prices for new consoles in the past for consoles that aren’t as powerful.

    If I were the cynical type (who am I kidding? I am the cynical type) I might suggest this is a clever way for Sony to deal with the inevitable shortage problem that always seems to result during the launch of a new console. Considering the following facts:

    There is almost always a shortage of hardware during the initial launch period of a new system. Invariably a lot of fans get royally pissed off when they’re not able to pick up a new console because of the shortages. The press has a field day talking about the “troubled launch of console X.”

    There are also some early adopters for whom price is no object. The Xbox 360 was considered expensive by the general gaming populace, but there were still people spending 4 times the retail price to pick up a unit off of eBay thanks to the widespread shortages. Some of the smaller retail shops weren’t even selling their stock to their customers, but putting them directly on eBay hoping to cash in on the demand.

    Sony had shortages with the launch of every console they’ve put out so far starting with the PS1 and right up through to the PSP. They just couldn’t pump them out fast enough to meet demand.

    Given these things wouldn’t it be really clever of Sony if they had the foresight to see that chances are they wouldn’t be able to meet demand during the launch of the PS3 if the price were closer to what folks have gotten used to and that there are folks out there who will buy one even if it costs them over a $1,000 so they decided to raise the price to a point where the majority of folks would decide to put off their purchase of the console until it comes down a bit?

    The hardcore are going to buy it regardless so they make some extra cash off the early adopters. Then in six months or a year they drop the price to a level that’s much more in line with what the mainstream is willing to dish out after they’ve had time to ramp up production, stockpile a few extra units in warehouses, and get the second round of games out the door. If they have a GTA-ish killer app to go along with the price drop it could usher in massive sales. If they’re really smart they eliminate the “low end” version of the PS3 and make the high end one $300.

    This isn’t that far fetched of an idea when you consider the fact that the PS2 is still selling extremely well and they have plans to continue to support it heavily for at least the next year or two with new titles.

    OK, maybe I’m giving Sony too much credit in the cleverness department, but it’s the sort of thing I’d do.

  7. The one bite I have with this is that it normalizes the technology used. Atari 2600 is vastly inferior to the PS3, but using the inflation to determine how much you “should” pay for something?

    Compare a gig of RAM in 1996, use inflation. You wouldn’t pay that much for a gig. you wouldn’t pay that much for an atari 2600. I won’t pay it period. I have a PC. Maybe when the price hit rock bottom like it did with the Ps2 not too long ago.

  8. 99% of why I continue to buy consoles in spite of having a very capable gaming PC is because the games I like to play on consoles are entirely different from the games I play on my PC. That mostly includes Japanese games, which I’m very fond of. Infact, the types of games I play on my PC and Playstation(s) are so different that I don’t consider either platforms as a possible alternative for the other. It’s like apples to oranges.

    So, I will continue to pay whatever I can afford for a console that will give me those Eastern games I enjoy so much. If the PS3 drops in price, I’ll be all over it.

  9. Arc, you make a very valid point. Though I might argue that you’re just getting more bang for your buck these days. wink The PS2 hasn’t hit rock bottom prices yet. They expect to wring another 6 years out of that console at a minimum. That means more price drops in the future.

    Geise, you hit the nail on the head as to why I own a PS2 and not, say, an Xbox. I find it hard to buy an Xbox when it’s really just a gussied up PC and most of the games that come out on it that I really want to play will eventually be released for the PC. The PS2, however, has a lot of stuff that’ll never see the light of day on a PC.

  10. gussied up PC

    Heh, a 733Mhz P3 is a gussied up PC? I’m pretty certain at the time (2001) that there were PC’s out there that were faster than a 733Mhz P3.

    However, of all the consoles, the PS2 and PlayStation series in general has always had the most games. Mostly due to the fact that each newer model is able to play games from previous models. Although, the GameBoy has succeeded in some of that too.

    The whole problem with consoles in my house is that they just don’t get used that much. I have a N64, PS2 and an XBox. They all sit around turned off. The PS2 gets played a few times a year, and someday I promise, I will play Halo 2. Someday. Really.

  11. You need to keep in mind that when the hardware is dedicated to a small set of applications it doesn’t have to be the fastest thing on the planet in order to be gussied up.

    The whole problem with consoles in my house is that they just don’t get used that much.

    I agree that would be a good argument not to buy anymore consoles. At the moment my PS2 gets less of a workout than my PC, but that’s more to do with the fact that I’m sharing a house with my in-laws who tend to watch a lot of TV. Once we’re back out on our own the time I devote to my PS2 will probably pick up quite a bit. That said I don’t play console games enough to justify owning more than one of them.

  12. You need to keep in mind that when the hardware is dedicated to a small set of applications it doesn’t have to be the fastest thing on the planet in order to be gussied up.

    I will agree with you there so long as there is a lot of hardware backing up the slower processor. I think the graphics processors in consoles are pretty highend compared to the graphics cards that were out when the consoles were released.

    Now, we are seeing consoles with pretty high end processors as well as graphics. The XBox-360 and the soon to be released PS3 both have pretty high end processors now. Fairly comparable to the Core Duo processors by Intel.

    Also, from what I have been hearing, MS has one thing going for it with the XBox-360. The online element is supposed to be far superior to Sony’s online experience. From what I have been seeing with reviews of XBox titles, I can see why they are saying this.

    I suppose I would be out buying an XBox-360 if it were not for the fact that I am saving up for a new Macintosh when the PowerMac towers get upgraded to Intel. I am so impressed with Apple and OS X, that I am going to be one of those evil switchers when the upgrade takes place. I’ll still be keeping the Windows box for games that are not available for the Mac, but other than that…

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