Cheer Up: Games Don’t Cost You As Much As They Used To


If you adjust for inflation, videogames have actually gotten less expensive over time.

Remember this scenario? You are twelve and you’ve heard about this great RPG that’s coming out on your amazing Nintendo Entertainment System, Final Fantasy. Your parents are not what you’d call loaded or even comfortable with four kids to feed, but they promised that they would buy you a game for your birthday. Of course, you point to the fancy Final Fantasy box on the shelf of Software Etc. and say, “I want that one.” Your dad smiles at you, pats your head and reaches for the box before casually glancing at the pricetag. “70 bucks? What the fuck? Pick out a cheaper game before I break your neck and throw it in your face.” $70 in 1990 was a big deal, but that same game in today’s dollars would be over $100. And it wasn’t even a collector’s edition.

It’s easy to complain that new Xbox 360 or PS3 games all cost $60 here in the United States. With so many great games coming out all the time, we all worry that dropping 60 bones a new game might not be a good idea, given that we have to, you know, eat. Sure, it’s an expensive hobby, but we often lose sight of how it used to be.

“Yes, some N64 games retailed for as high as $80, but it was also the high end of a 60 to 80 dollar range,” said Hal Halpin, president of the Entertainment Consumers Association. “Retailers had more flexibility with pricing back then – though they’ve consistently maintained that the Suggested Retail Price was/is just a guide. Adjusted for inflation, we’re generally paying less now than we have historically.”

Even for more moderately priced games in the early 90s, such as can be seen in this old Sears catalog, most NES games were priced between $30 and $50. When you factor in a 4 percent inflation every year, paying $50 is like paying $80 in today’s dollars.

70 dollars for a new game wasn’t that rare 15 or 20 years ago. Sometimes, like in the case of Final Fantasy, the price was tied to the expensive (at the time) internal memory that was needed to store saved games. That’s part of the reason that early Zelda games were more pricey. But other times, the price was bumped that high for more popular or anticipated titles. Ars Technica reports that games like Super Mario 64 and Pilotwings 64 were priced at $69.99 in 1996.

So when you start to complain about how much games cost nowadays, remember that it could be worse, and it certainly was for those of us who grew up during that time.

I had to wait until my friend beat Final Fantasy before he let me borrow it. It took him forever!

Source: Ars Technica

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