Are Retro Video Games Too Expensive?

November 7th, 2023   •   By Debbie

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I recently read an article calling some gamers ungrateful and entitled when it comes to new games and the cost associated with them. Granted, it was about Playstation games and how some people wanted refunds after finishing the game, but it raised some interesting points about the cost of video games back in the day when they were fresh on the scene. 

How much were video game consoles in the 1990s?

In September 1990, the Sega MegaDrive went on sale for just shy of £190. If we adjust for inflation, that console would cost just under £450 today! Super Nintendo was released two years later, in 1992, for £129, which would be around £270 today. And the first PlayStation console launched in 1995 for £299, equalling over £580 in modern-day money. 

So, consoles have always been expensive, but what about the games?

NetVoucherCodes: Console Launch Prices Adjusted for Inflation in 2020

How much were video games in the 1990s?

It’s hard to pin down the actual cost of games from over 30 years ago, but most forums and users agree that new games back in the day cost between £30 and £50 due to the limited stock available and manufacturing costs. Today, this is the equivalent of £60 - £100, which is insane! 

I certainly wouldn’t pay this for a new game, but then, the landscape has changed considerably due to technological advancements and availability.

How have video game prices changed?

Depending on what you’re looking for, new games today come in around £35 on average, with more exclusive games going for much more. So, when you compare this to the prices of games in the 90s, current prices are not that bad!

The pricing changes are down to the industry itself. Millions of games are made every day, more copies are manufactured and sold, and you can buy them online or in-store, so the supply and demand issues that older games face just aren’t there. Add in the fact that gaming is a much more widespread hobby, and you can see why the cost is nowhere near what it was. 

Why are retro games so expensive?

Some retro games can be quite cheap, but some can demand similar prices to modern-day games, or even significantly higher. This is mostly down to their rarity.

Modern game manufacturing has far exceeded the levels seen in the 80s and 90s. For example:

  • Sega’s Sonic The Hedgehog 1 sold approximately 24 million copies worldwide since 1992 and is noted as one of the best-selling games of all time.

  • Assassin's Creed Valhalla was released in March 2022, and creator Ubisoft reported it had more than 20 million players not seven months later. 

This tells us there are millions more players in the world, and that the technology is more cost-effective and accessible, so we can see why modern-day games are easier to buy and why the equivalent cost is less than retro games.

Sure, you can use emulators and pirated copies of the older games, but there is something unique and pure about playing the authentic cartridge on an original console. The difficulty is finding the older authentic cartridges in good condition (or, if you’re collecting, a complete in a box copy). This is especially hard if the original game had a limited run or was the last of a console’s offering.

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Here are a few examples:

1. Donkey Kong Country (SNES)

  • Current Selling Price on Mage: £60 (see here)

  • Release date: 1994

  • Copies Sold: 9.3 million copies worldwide

  • Noted as the the third-bestselling SNES game and the bestselling Donkey Kong game, this game is nearly 30 years old and very much loved, so good condition games, complete with box, inserts, manuals and extra Go Ape CDs are hard to find. 

2. Silent Hill (Playstation)

  • Current Selling Price on Mage: £85 (see here)

  • Release date: 1999

  • Copies Sold: 1 million copies worldwide

  • Original Playstation copies in good nick are priced so high due to supply and demand. A well-preserved, working copy can certainly demand a higher price. We talked more about the original Silent Hill here.

3. Sonic Adventure 2 (Dreamcast)

  • Current Selling Price on Mage: £60 (see here)

  • Release date: 2001

  • Copies Sold: 500,000 copies worldwide

  • The final Sonic game for a Sega console and one of the last ever Dreamcast games, Sonic Adventure 2 was a semi-success, though it wasn't as popular as its predecessor. There were re-releases for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2012, but the original Dreamcast pressing had such a limited run that good-condition copies are rare and priced accordingly. 

So, while modern-day games have copies in the millions and digital downloads available, retro games had much smaller print runs and often have 30+ years of use to contend with. 

Essentially, supply and demand is the reason costs can be higher than expected. 

How to buy and sell retro video games

Buying retro video games today can be a bit of a minefield. Few places guarantee authenticity or range, so most of us get our fix from trawling Facebook, Gumtree, eBay and more.  

Mage Games is one of the few dedicated platforms with minimal fees for selling and buying. It allows you to set the price for your retro game based on your judgement - a true marketplace for retro video games that puts the power in the user’s hands. 

Why not check out what’s on offer on Mage Games today and feed your love of retro gaming?

Please Note: The 'Console Price' image was sourced from NetVoucherCodes. The original selling prices noted in the image were adjusted for inflation to September 2023 using the Bank Of England Inflation Calculator for use within this article. All other stats were sourced from Wikipedia and gamer forums, so we cannot guarantee their accuracy.

Debbie

Debbie

Middle-aged Mega Drive player. Likes cats.