When Sony announced the $399 price tag for PlayStation 4, it was met with uproarious applause at their press conference and praise from watchers around the world. Whether $399 for PS4 or Xbox One's higher price at $499, the points of next-gen systems may seem steep to some. According to data from Ars Technica, these next generation consoles are far from the most expensive ones relative to today's dollars.
Ars Technica showed the price level at release and adjusted for inflation for a number of consoles beginning with the Atari 2600 and leading up to the next generation. This graph shows comparatively how expensive these consoles actually are in a historical context.
Even without adjusting for inflation, the Xbox One and PS4 are far from the most expensive console releases. The PlayStation 3 was initially released at $600 back in 2006, which raised a lot of eyebrows. Yet more than a decade before it, a couple of systems had already set a higher bar for launch day price tags. The 3DO was an astounding $700 at its release in 1993. Two years before 3DO, the Neo Geo came out at $650.
Based on Ars Technica's chart, the average price consoles adjusted for inflation comes out to $498.63, which puts the Xbox One only about a dollar over the average. Still, the Xbox One is more expensive than the adjusted price of almost every system to come out since 1995, with the PS3 and Sega Saturn as exceptions. The PlayStation 4, on the other hand, is actually cheaper than every other previous PlayStation system when adjusted for inflation.
It's worth noting that PS4's $399 price point came at the expense of PlayStation Eye, which is now excluded from the launch bundle. Meanwhile, the Xbox One includes a Kinect, which is still retailing for more than $100 as a standalone unit. If the PS4 included the PS Eye, its launch price would have to account for its retail value, currently around $60.
When looked at through the lens of history, these next-gen consoles are relatively reasonably priced when compared to generations past. From a pricing standpoint, they're certainly within striking distance of the most successful consoles.
Source: Ars Technica