Historical Game Console Prices
Believe it or not, video game consoles have been around for over 40 years.
The Magnavox Odyssey, which was the first game console that could be connected to a TV, was originally released in 1972.
Over 40 years later, we are preparing for the release of the Xbox 720 and Playstation 4, which will both continue to push the boundaries of gaming.
It's amazing how far video game consoles have come in 40 years. The question is - how have game console prices changed over that time?
The video game industry has had its ups and downs. For instance, did you know that there was a crash in the video game industry in the early '80s that put a number of companies out of business?
As mentioned, the first game console was the Magnavox Odyssey. Purchase price in 1972? $75. That works out to about $412 in today's dollars.
One of the next major releases was the Atari 2600 in 1977. That system would have cost you about $199 in 1977, which works out to $753.79 in today's dollars. Certainly not a cheap system.
The Mattel Intellivision was one of the next major console releases. That system originally had a retail price of $299 when it was released in 1979, which works out to $943.22 in today's dollars.
In the early '80s, we had the release of the ColecoVision and the Atari 5200 in 1982. The ColecoVision retailed for $200 ($475.06 in today's dollars), while the Atari 5200 retailed for $269 ($638.95 in today's dollars).
In 1983, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was first released. The NES had a retail price of $199, which works out to $458.53 in today's dollars.
Three of the other major game console systems that were released in the '80s, along with their original retail prices in '80s dollars and today's dollars:
Sega Master System (1985) - $200 ($426.44)
Atari 7800 (1986) - $269 ($562.76)
NEC TurboGrafx-16 (1987) - $199 ($402.02)
There was a major video game boom in the '90s. Major systems such as the Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis 2, Playstation and Nintendo 64 were released during the '90s. Again, their prices upon release:
Super Nintendo Entertainment System (1990) - $199 ($349.12)
Panasonic 3DO (1993) - $599 ($950.79)
Sega Genesis 2 (1994) - $189.99 ($294.10)
Playstation (1994) - $299.99 ($464.38)
Nintendo 64 (1996) - $199.99 ($292.38)
Sega Genesis 3 (1997) - $50 ($71.43)
Microsoft entered the fray in the 2000s with the release of their Xbox system, while Sony Playstation had two major releases (Playstation 2, Playstation 3). In addition, Nintendo released their popular Wii system in 2006:
Playstation 2 (2000) - $299 ($398.14)
Nintendo Gamecube (2001) - $199
Xbox (2001) - $299 ($387.31)
Xbox 360 (2005) - $299.99 ($352.10)
Playstation 3 (2006) - $499 ($567.69)
Wii (2006) - $249.99 ($284.40)
The soon-to-be released Playstation 4 and Xbox 720 systems will likely have price tags of around $400, at least to start.
On an inflation-adjusted basis, the two most expensive game consoles of all time are Mattel's Intellivision ($943.22) and the Panasonic 3DO ($950.79).
Note: this is not an exhaustive list of all of the gaming systems that have been released over the years - instead, I tried to focus on the most popular systems that had the biggest impact on the industry.
Source: Inflation Calculator