When we try to justify the price we pay for a game console, we rarely think back past the last generation. At just $400, the PlayStation 4 is a steal compared to its $600 predecessor, yet Microsoft has received plenty of flak for launching the Xbox One at $500. What’s interesting is that when we step back just a few generations further, prices suddenly plummet to $300 or less.
Several months ago, a Reddit user put together a chart which shows how much every home console would cost after the price has been adjusted for inflation. Surprisingly, even with nearly 40 years between today and the release of the Atari 2600, the PS4 and Xbox One are still two of the more expensive consoles ever to hit the market. Of course, they can’t compete with the ludicrously priced NeoGeo or 3DO, but our tolerance for expensive electronics has clearly grown over the past few decades.
One of the most obvious explanations for our newfound willingness to put up with higher prices would be the enhanced functionality of the modern gaming console. The PS4, Xbox One and Wii U all are very capable Netflix machines, and the former two consoles have dozens of additional apps for watching sports, downloading movies and streaming live gameplay sessions to Twitch.