ByMichael Mitchell, writer at
Former Staff Writer for Now Loading. Currently tweeting things here:
Michael Mitchell

Tonight, Nintendo revealed that the Switch console would be released on March 3rd and that it would cost $300. While this is by no means expensive in its own right, a lot of people — myself included — are curious where this sits on the cost scale of Nintendo's console lineage.

Or perhaps more importantly, a lot are curious how this compares to other company's consoles at release. Let's take a look, shall we?

At Only $300, This Is One Of Nintendo's Most Expensive Consoles — Before Inflation, That Is

Nintendo, more so than any other gaming company, has a history of very reasonably priced consoles. In fact, up until the Wii, Nintendo had been releasing consoles at $200 consistently. And even then, the Wii only jumped the price up to $250, while the Wii U bumped it up a bit more to $300 for the lowest model.

Of course, that's not taking inflation into account. If you're curious how the consoles rank with inflation — noted in bold — it actually means the Switch is Nintendo's cheapest console release to date:

  • Original NES (1985): $200 ($449.24)
  • SNES (1991): $200 ($353.55)
  • Nintendo 64 (1996): $200 ($308.18)
  • GameCube (2001): $200 ($271.87)
  • Wii (2006): $250 ($300.46)
  • Wii U (2012): $300 and $350 variants ($314.43) and ($366.83)

For anyone who loves math, the above costs* average to about $332.96. Of course, this number would be lower if not for the original NES, which — unsurprisingly — launched at the comparatively highest price. Still, that's nothing compared to what other gaming companies have released their consoles at.

But It's Still Cheaper Than Any Sony Or Microsoft Release Prices

Image via
Image via

As I said, Nintendo is more the outlier than the standard, and you need look no further than the prices Sony and Microsoft — Nintendo's current competition — launched their consoles at for the proof.

Prices of Sony consoles at release

  • PlayStation (1995): $300 ($474)
  • PlayStation 2 (2000): $300 ($421.61)
  • PlayStation 3 (2006): $500 and $600 variants ($600.93) and ($721.11)
  • PlayStation 4 (2013): $400 ($412.06)

Sony has never really been known for being cost-efficient. Rather, they always tout high-end technology. This was no truer than when the PlayStation 3's price was announced and surprised just about everyone. Thanks to this, Sony's consoles come to a $477.15 average at launch.

But how does this amount compare to Microsoft's? Well, it's actually fairly close, especially considering the PS3 is an anomaly in Sony's price scheme.

Prices of Microsoft consoles at release

  • Xbox (2001): $300 ($407.80)
  • Xbox 360 (2005): $300 and $400 ($372.87) and ($497.16)
  • Xbox One (2013): $500 ($515.08)

Again, you can see what a different approach Nintendo's direct competition takes to prices, as Microsoft has an average launch price for its consoles of $431.92. While less expensive than Sony consoles, this is still higher than Nintendo's average. In fact, Nintendo's launch prices average at least $100 less than any other gaming company's!

And Just For Fun, Let's Look At Some Other Console Launch Prices

We all know before the current leaders of console gaming started competing, there were other consoles that many likely have some of their fondest memories with. And, being at the dawn of gaming, it's interesting to see just how expensive these consoles would have been in today's terms.

  • Atari 2600 (1977): $200 ($812.80)
  • Atari 5200 (1982): $270 ($679.38)
  • Sega Genesis (1989): $190 ($372.94)
  • Atari Jaguar (1993): $250 ($416.71)
  • Sega Saturn (1995): $400 ($632)
  • Sega Dreamcast (1999): $200 ($288.62)

Again, a lot of this has to do with gaming technology being entirely new, but Atari's average comes in at a whopping $636.30 while Sega's comes in at $431.19 — almost exactly as much as Microsoft's.

So With Inflation, What Were The Most And Least Expensive Consoles Are Launch?

Okay, so, it might have been easy to see that the Atari 2600 launched ludicrously when inflation is taken into account. But it's still fun to compare and rank this with more recent tech.

These are the 5 most expensive consoles when adjusting for inflation (highest price listed first):

  • Atari 2600
  • Atari 5200
  • Sega Saturn
  • PlayStation 3 (cheapest model)
  • Xbox One

These are the 5 least expensive consoles when adjusting for inflation (lowest price listed first):

  • GameCube
  • Sega Dreamcast
  • The Switch
  • Wii
  • Wii U

So there you have it! The Switch may not be the cheapest console ever, but it's pretty darn close. And Nintendo still manages to have 4 of the 5 lowest-priced launch titles ever. Pretty impressive if you ask me!

Were you surprised by any of the adjusted prices on this list?

*When more than one model was sold, the lowest price was used to calculate the average.


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