If you’ve been gaming since you were a kid, you likely remember it as a purely enjoyable experience that you gave little or no thought to when it came to cost (thank you parents and/or Santa Claus). Personally, growing up, I had to have it all. The original Xbox, PS2, GameCube, N64, and the Wii were my main staples and it wasn’t until I got older that I thought that gaming hardware is expensive.
I bought a PS4, my first console, for about $400 and then two or three games for around $40 – $60 each. I exhausted just about all the money I had saved up. But it was well worth it to me because I love to game and it’s a favorite hobby of mine. But, for others, is the cost of gaming hardware today making the hobby inaccessible or is it something that can be ignored?
Experience vs Expense
Gaming is one of the most popular hobbies out there. There’s no limit to what can be put into software and manipulated with a controller or mouse and keyboard. But, gaming (at least when it comes to playing PC and console games) doesn’t seem to be the most accessible of hobbies because of the cost of gaming hardware. A PS4 Pro is currently retailing for nearly $400, an Xbox One S for about $300, and a gaming PC can cost $1,000 or more depending on the modifications you make to it.
Games average about $60 a piece, if purchased close to launch, and DLCs always cost half that price and are released later. All in all, gaming seems like an expensive hobby that creates barriers for people to enjoy it. But if you look past the price tag, you’ll find that this hobby is probably more accessible and affordable than it’s ever been and that consumers have more freedom to choose how they spend their money on gaming hardware.
Inflation and Gaming Hardware
You’re probably thinking, how is a $400 price tag not expensive? As it turns out, buying gaming hardware today is probably more affordable than it’s ever been. Let’s back it up and take a look and how that’s even possible. Inflation rates, the fluctuation (often increase) of the price of goods and commodities, have risen significantly since the early days of games and decreased the purchase power of the average dollar over time.
Essentially, people need more money to buy products today than they did back in the 70s and 80s and products from back then are valued higher in today’s currency value. So much so that a console like the NES that retailed for $199.99 back in 1985 would be worth about $440 in today’s dollars. N64 cartridges that cost $70 back in 1998 (by today’s standards is pretty pricey) would cost about $100 in today’s dollars.
The purchasing power behind a single dollar back when consoles were first available was much stronger and less physical cash was needed to purchase gaming hardware. But, accounting for inflation and lowering of purchase power, consoles back then were actually very expensive by today’s standards. In fact, they were way more expensive (to the point that a certain Atari system is worth over $700 in today’s dollars). Even a PS3 (2006) at launch cost $599.99 and a PS4 was priced at $399.99 in 2013.
Getting the Best Price on Gaming Hardware
After that short economics lesson, you’re probably still saying, “gaming hardware is still too expensive for people to get into the hobby.” Yes, games and gaming hardware definitely carries a fairly hefty price tag, even buy today’s standards. It’s a lot different than buying a 99-cent game on the app store. But gaming hardware is more advanced than ever before.
Systems can project 4K graphics, operate at 60 fps, and connect to the internet to deliver online content. Plus, they play movies and, you can use streaming services on them. The price tag can be intimidating for both long- and first-time purchasers, but there are ways around that.
Waiting for sales like Amazon Prime Day (it’s coming next month so be ready), Black Friday, and Christmas sales can be beneficial as many retailers will slash the prices on consoles and other gaming hardware by the hundreds of dollars. If you can wait to play a game, then wait. After a few months, games will typically go on sale or there’s the chance of finding a used copy. Services like Steam will always put games on sale (especially during the Steam Summer Sale) and you can buy a variety of games for a low price.
When it comes to buying gaming hardware, we live in a time where equipment is more capable and more affordable than ever. Consumers have several options to get the latest tech at a cheaper price than retail. Shop savvy and be reasonable with your gaming wants/needs. Gaming hardware will always carry a price, but the experience is more than worth it.0