We’ve taken a look through the archives to find the priciest consoles ever released
As we know, being a gamer is an expensive business.
Regardless of whether you’re a console or a PC gamer, it seems like the cost of both games and hardware just keeps going up and up.
With both the PS5 and the Xbox Series X setting players back almost $500, it feels like we’re getting to the point where we need to re-mortgage our homes to keep up with the latest tech.
Or at least, we would do that if we could actually afford to buy a home.
But have you ever stopped to wonder which
console is the most expensive ever? We have,
and so, for today’s list, we’ve
taken a look through the archives
to find the priciest consoles ever released.
However, rather than going by their cost at
launch, we’ve looked at the original retail cost
of every major console, and then run them through
an inflation calculator to give us an idea of how
much they would cost today. After all, a console
that costs $500 these days is actually relatively
cheaper than a console that cost $500 in the 90s,
you know, because of the economy and such.
With all of that nice and clear, I’m the
bargain-priced, Ben from TripleJump, and here
are the 10 Most Expensive Consoles of All Time.
10. Xbox One X – $499 ($606.67 Today)
Sometimes, a console will launch that’s
the best thing since sliced bread. Other times,
a console will launch that needs some refinement,
and that’s how we ended up with the Xbox One X.
Teased at E3 2016 under the name Project Scorpio,
the Xbox One X was released in November
2017, and boasted a number of improvements
over its predecessor, the Xbox One. The
console had 1TB of internal storage,
12GB of RAM (of which 9GB was allocated
to games), and was designed to render
games in 4K. It was fully compatible with
all previously released Xbox One titles,
as well as the backwards compatible Xbox and
360 games that were available on the One.
Additionally, some games were optimized for the
console, giving players a superior graphical
experience. Put simply: The Xbox One X was
superior to the Xbox One (and, according to Phil
Spencer, Sony’s PlayStation 4 Pro) in every way.
However, perhaps its biggest selling point was
that it was the exact same price as the original
Xbox One, and whilst it didn’t come with a Kinect,
it did have a whole host of features that were
far more useful than the ill-fated peripheral.
9. Xbox One – $499 ($638.35 Today)
Here’s a fun fact: Not only was the
original Xbox One not quite as good as the
Xbox One X, but, when adjusted for inflation,
it was also technically more expensive.
When it was initially unveiled, there was
a good bit of controversy surrounding
the Xbox One.In the following months,
Microsoft ended up back-peddling on a number of
announcements relating to the console, including
the requirement for regular online check-ins
and restrictions on game sharing and used games.
Despite getting off to a rough start, Microsoft’s
eighth generation console went down fairly well
with both critics and players when it was finally
released, with many praising the premium feel of
the controller, improved reliability of the
One over the 360 (red ring of death, who?),
and the console’s inoffensive design.
Sadly, a decent reception didn’t end up
translating to great sales, and it’s estimated
that for every Xbox One sold, Sony shifted two
PS4s. This was due, in part, to all of Microsoft’s
U-turns, a lack of exclusives, and, of course,
the price, as the console cost a whopping $100
more than its biggest competitor, the PlayStation
4. Sure, it came with the Kinect, but let’s
face it, no one really wanted that, did they?
8. Magnavox Odyssey – $99 ($705.82 Today)
You might take a look at a price point like
$99 and think “Huh, that’s pretty reasonable
for a console.” It turns out though that,
if it were to go on sale today, the Magnavox
Odyssey would cost way more than anything
that’s currently on the market. In fact,
you could grab yourself an Xbox Series
X and a Nintendo Switch Lite and still
have enough money left over for a coffee.
Released in 1972, the Magnavox Odyssey was
the first commercially available home console,
and was capable of displaying such graphical
marvels as “up to three dots” and “a line of
any length”. Alright, it might not sound like much
now, but at the time it was really exciting stuff.
The Magnavox Odyssey retailed for $99
dollars, which is roughly $705 in 2022.
This might seem kind of steep for a machine
that does next to nothing, but the Magnavox
Odyssey was a pioneer of the industry
and paved the way for modern consoles.
It’s probably also worth nothing that in its
first twelve months on shelves, the Magnavox
Odyssey shifted 69,000 units, which I
think we can all agree, is very nice.
3 – $499/$599 ($737.64/$885.46 Today)
The PlayStation 3 is considered by many
to be the black sheep of the PlayStation family.
Unlike both its predecessors and its successors,
the PS3 got off to a bit of a shaky start in
life, and due to a number of factors, including
its high price point, which we’ll get to, it
took a while for the console to find its feet.
The biggest issue with the PS3 was the
fact that its complex architecture made
it difficult to program for, and as such,
a number of studios found it challenging to
develop games for the console. As a result, it
took a while for players to flock to the PS3,
and despite Sony turning the system around
and it ultimately outselling the Xbox 360,
both the 360 and the Nintendo Wii
were a good bit cheaper at launch.
When it was released in 2006, the PS3 had two
different price points; the version with 20GB
of internal storage set consumers back $499,
and the version with 60GB cost an eye-watering
$599. The console would have been pretty
pricey if released at those costs today,
but when you realise that, when adjusted for
inflation, they’d actually run at $737 and $885
respectively, suddenly, that PlayStation
5 doesn’t look like such a terrible deal.
6. Sega Saturn – $399 ($780.23 Today)
We all remember the iconic moment that
then Sony president, Steve Race, took to the
lectern at E3 1995, calmly placed down his papers,
and said nothing more into the mic
than “$299”, undermining everything
that then Sega CEO, Tom Kalinske, had to say
about the Sega Saturn. For those wondering,
the PlayStation went on to outsell the
Saturn by about 10 to 1, due, in parge part,
to the fact that it was a great deal cheaper.
Still, the Saturn wasn’t without its virtues, and
if you were the sort of person who was looking for
a decent library of games, including more arcade
ports than you could shake a stick at, then it
was a sound investment. The Saturn was also home
to a number of exclusives that are now considered
classics, including the likes of Panzer Dragoon,
Nights into Dreams, and Virtua Fighter, none
of which could be found on any other console.
Still, for the average gamer, the machine just
wasn’t worth shelling out for, and when you
consider that the PlayStation did much the same as
the Saturn for only three quarters of the price,
there’s little wonder that consumers flocked in
their tens of millions to Sony’s little grey box.
5. Atari 5200 – $269 ($830.73 Today)
The 80s was a rough time for a lot
of people, what with the Cold War,
the Chernobyl disaster, and having to wear your
hair like this. As if to add insult to injury,
it was during this decade that the games
industry decided to go to plops as well.
Five years after the release of the Atari 2600
(don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about that)
Atari launched the 5200, a console which, if my
maths is right, should have been twice as good
as its predecessor.
The actual hardware was almost identical to that
found in Atari’s 8-bit computers, and unlike its
biggest competitor, the ColecoVision,
which came with Donkey Kongpacked in,
the 5200 came with Super Breakout, which
had previously been released for the 2600.
The Atari 5200 was ultimately discontinued
in 1984 after just two years on the market,
its sales having fallen far short of expectations.
In fact, only around 1 million consoles were ever
sold, which was likely due to the fact that it
barely had any games, and was, for a piece of
hardware at the time, so gosh-darned expensive.
Anyway, whilst we’re on the subject of Atari…
4. Atari 2600 – $199 ($978.62 Today)
Although it’s only placed fourth
on our list today, in some ways,
you could say that the Atari 2600 was the
most expensive console ever made. After all,
not only was its retail price somewhat steep, but
it almost killed the games industry. Okay, fine,
it was the decisions of Atari themselves
in regards to the 2600 that nearly killed
the industry, but you know, potato/po-tah-to.
Originally branded as the Atari Video Computer
System, the console was released in 1977 alongside
nine launch titles, including the pack-in game,
Combat. Sadly, most people have forgotten
about the great games that were released
for the 2600 due to the two very famous bad
ones: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrialand Pac-Man.
Funnily enough, Pac-Man went on to be
the best-selling title for the 2600,
but it was so awful that it eroded consumers’
confidence in the industry as a whole and
was responsible, in part, for the crash of
’83. Oh, and we haven’t even touched on how
ugly it is. What was it about the 70s that
made people want wood on their electronics?
If the Atari 2600 were to go on sale in 2022,
it would set gamers back the best part of $1000,
and would likely set the games
industry back about a decade.
3. Intellivision – $299 ($1081.38 Today)
Ooft, we’re getting into the real big bucks now.
The Intellivision, whose name just so happens to
be a portmanteau of the words “intelligent” and
“television”, was released by Mattel Electronics
in 1979, and was intended to be a competitor to
the Atari 2600. Although it was a pricey bit
of kit, there’s a number of good reasons for
its cost, as under that little black and
cream hood was a great deal of innovation.
It can be considered to be the first 16-bit
console as it came with a 16-bit microprocessor,
it was the first console to allow players
to download games, thanks to the PlayCable,
which launched in 1981, plus, the Intellivoice
module allowed players to hear real human voices
in video games for the first time ever.
When this neat little machine launched,
it set players back a whopping $299,
which, when adjusted for inflation,
would be well over $1000 in today’s money. Despite
costing an arm and a leg, between 1980 and 1983,
over 3 million Intellivisions were sold, and
considering just how much it pushed the envelope,
there’s little wonder that people were so willing
to part with their hard-earned cash for one.
2. Neo-Geo AES – $649 ($1420.04 Today)
We’re sticking with innovative consoles
for the moment, and whilst the level
of innovation on display in the Neo-Geo
wasn’t a patch on the Intellivision, it
gave the world one of the most important
technological advancements in gaming
history: The removable memory card.
Was this leap forward worth the cost of
admission though? Hmm, jury’s out on that one.
The Neo-Geo was originally launched as
a coin-operated arcade machine in 1990,
with the home console version, the Neo-Geo AES,
making its way into players’ living rooms in 1991.
At the time, it was the most powerful console ever
made, but unless you were into fighting games and
had a boatload of disposable income, then the
Neo-Geo probably wouldn’t have been for you.
The AES was originally released for
rental only in Japan, as SNK Corporation,
the company behind the console, felt that
it was too expensive for consumers. Just
a year after its rental launch though, they
threw caution to the wind, and the Neo-Geo
AES went on sale for a staggering $649, which
equates to $1420 (blaze it) in today’s money.
Unsurprisingly, it’s hard to find anyone
these days that actually owned one.
1. 3DO – $699 ($1441.59 Today)
Even in today’s market, a company
charging $699 for a console would raise some
eyebrows, so imagine how horrified gamers in
the early 90s felt when they learned
how much the 3DO was retailing for.
Unlike the other systems on this list,
the 3DO was not a single console,
but rather a series of specifications that went
on to be manufactured by the likes of Panasonic,
GoldStar (or LG if you wanna get more
up-to-date name about this), and Sanyo.
Although the 3DO’s technical specs were
impressive, critics and players failed
to warm to it, and so despite making
leaps forward in the graphics, sound,
and game design departments, it won few fans.
The 3DO’s problems were several-fold: Firstly,
it had very few exclusives, so there was
no real reason for consumers to choose it
over its competitors. Secondly, there were
far cheaper alternatives out there already,
plus more on the way, and finally,
its retail cost was eye-watering.
Considering the fact that, in 1993 when the
3DO was released, you could take $700 to
your local game store and buy both anSNES
and a Sega GenesisAND STILL HAVE CHANGE,
it’s really no surprise that only about
2 million people ever bought the 3DO.