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Legacy consoles vs modern gaming - which is better value today?

Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony dominate the gaming console market today. But how does the nostalgic tech from our past stack up against the modern greats?
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Black Friday is the global shopping event of the year and an extremely popular time to buy popular gadgets and tech.

In fact, our recent survey found that a fifth of Brits plan to buy a gaming console this year with the PS5 coming out on top as the most desired of the consoles this Black Friday! If you do plan to game this Black Friday, make sure you have the best broadband for gaming, check out our Black Friday broadband deals.

With this in mind, we analysed the real term cost today of legacy gaming consoles compared to our modern day gaming machines to find out which is better value.

Sony PlayStation

Original PlayStation gaming console

UK launch date - 1995

Cost at launch - £299

Real term cost today (based on inflation) - £587.83

US launch date - 1995

Cost at launch - $299

Real term cost today (based on inflation) - $542.65

The original PlayStation console introduced gaming into households across the globe and became the first video game console to ship more than 100 million units worldwide

With the console came legendary games, such as Gran Turismo, Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy, Crash Bandicoot, Rayman, Spyro the Dragon and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Since its launch, Sony has brought four new PlayStation models to the market, including the most sold console of all time, the PlayStation 2. It’s latest success is the PS5. Released in 2020, the PS5 base edition retailed at £449/$499, which is £138.83 cheaper than the real term cost today of the original PlayStation console. 

However, if you’re looking for PS5 Black Friday deals this year, it's worth noting that there has been a major shortage of PS5s available, with consoles sold out at all major providers. If you still want to get your hands on a PS5, check out our top tips on how to get a PS5 on Black Friday 2021.

Nintendo Game Boy

Nintendo Game Boy console

UK launch date - 1990

Cost at launch - £69.99

Real term cost today (based on inflation) - £162.71

US launch date - 1989

Cost at launch - $88.99

Real term cost today (based on inflation) - $200.75

Originally released in Japan in 1989, followed by North America and then Europe in late 1990, the Game Boy became a handheld gaming console icon, selling over 119 million devices around the world. 

On its release, a Game Boy would have set you back just £69.99/$89.99. However, in real terms today, that would be £162.71. This is 63% cheaper than Nintendo’s current flagship console, the Nintendo Switch, available for £259.99. 

Released in 2017, the Nintendo Switch gained notoriety again in 2020 with worldwide media coverage, documenting console shortages as consumers tried to find ways to amuse themselves at home during lockdowns. As a result, the gaming console has sold over 91 million units globally. However, it still hasn’t sold as many units as Nintendo Wii, with 102 million units sold around the world.

Microsoft Xbox

Microsoft Xbox console

UK launch date - 2002

Cost at launch - £299

Real term cost today (based on inflation) - £497.43

US launch date - 2001

Cost at launch - $299

Real term cost today (based on inflation) - $467.23

Compared to other consoles in the industry, Microsoft’s Xbox is a relative newcomer, with its first console hitting shelves in the early noughties. However, since its launch in 2002, Xbox has become a household name. 

At the time of its release, the console was sold for £299/$299. Taking into account inflation, this console would retail for £497.43/$467.23 today. That’s almost £50 more than the popular Xbox Series X. 

Despite the console launching a year ago, UK fans are still struggling to get their hands on the latest Xbox, with stock selling out within minutes of it being restocked at suppliers. If you’re looking for an Xbox this Black Friday or Christmas, the cheaper Xbox Series S is a great option, and often in stock. However, it’s less powerful than the Series X, so many fans would understandably prefer to keep refreshing their screens this Black Friday in the hope of grabbing one. 

If you can’t wait to get playing the latest Xbox Series X games, you can play them on any laptop using Microsoft’s cloud streaming service. While you don’t necessarily need a machine that’s designed for hardcore gamers, a fast internet connection is a must. Check out our handy guide if you’re unsure about the internet speed you need for online gaming and then compare fibre broadband deals. You’ll also need a Game Pass Ultimate subscription and an Xbox wireless controller to play without a Xbox console. 

SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive

Sega Genesis/Mega Drive console

UK launch date - 1990

Cost at launch - £189.99

Real term cost today (based on inflation) - £441.64

US launch date - 1989

Cost at launch - $200

Real term cost today (based on inflation) - $446.11

Known as the SEGA Genesis in North America, and as the Mega Drive in Europe, it was SEGA’s third gaming console to hit the market. During its total product lifespan it sold almost 30 million units worldwide, as well as introducing us to the iconic Sonic the Hedgehog. 

In today’s terms, the Mega Drive would be a similar price as the popular Xbox Series X and PS5. While SEGA no longer creates gaming consoles, it did release a return of the SEGA Mega Drive with several classic games built-in for nostalgic gamers.

What consumers plan to buy this Black Friday

We surveyed the nation to find out what the majority of consumers plan to purchase this year in the Black Friday sales. These were the results:

  • Over half of consumers (57%) plan to do the majority of their Black Friday shopping online this year

  • More than a fifth of Brits plan to spend between £100 and £150 in the sales

  • Video games (27%) are the most anticipated tech product that consumers plan to buy this Black Friday, followed by headphones/earbuds (26%), and a mobile phone (23%)

  • If you're one of the one in twenty Black Friday patrons that plan to buy a new broadband plan this year, check out our Black Friday broadband deals for more information

  • A quarter of Black Friday shoppers are on the look out for a gaming console, with 55% of those gamers wanting to get their hands on the elusive PS5

  • When it comes to Black Friday brands, consumers are most interested in Amazon's deals (64%), with Argos (42%) and Currys (35%) coming in behind the online shopping giant

  • Perhaps unsurprisingly, over two-thirds of consumers acknowledged they've been more likely to make an impulse purchase on Black Friday

  • However, for the most part the majority (61%) of Black Friday shoppers said they haven't regretted an impulse Black Friday purchase, with only a quarter of consumers stating they've returned past Black Friday goods

  • Over one in six people have been a victim of a Black Friday scam in the past, check out our how to spot scam sites this Black Friday tips

While you can game online with most broadband speeds, if your broadband is slow your gaming experience will be compromised. For basic games, you'll need at least 3Mbps of broadband speed but if you have others at home using the internet, your bandwidth will be further limited and you might want to upgrade. Check out out best broadband for gaming guide.

You can compare our best Black Friday broadband deals at Uswitch to find the best broadband plan for you.

Use the Uswitch Broadband Speed Test to find out your current broadband speed and learn about what speeds are available in your area.

Old gaming consoles create e-waste which has a negative impact on the environment. If you're purchasing a new gaming console, you should check how much your old console is worth to sell or find your nearest Recycling Locator. To find out more about tech recycling, check out our mobile phone recycling explained and how to recycle your old tech guides .

Black Friday broadband deals

Search on Uswitch to find the right Black Friday broadband deal for you

Methodology

Uswitch surveyed 2,017 respondents who plan to shop this Black Friday. Data correct as of November 16 2021.

Additionally, we used https://www.usinflationcalculator.com and https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/monetary-policy/inflation/inflation-calculator to calculate the real terms costs of all items included in the above information. Please note the US Inflation calculator uses the 2021 US inflation rate and exact figures were used. Whereas, the Bank of England inflation calculator uses the 2020 inflation rate for the UK as data for 2021 will be available when the annual consumer price inflation time series is updated in January 2022, and where appropriate figures were rounded. Data correct as of November 17 2021.

Additional sources:

https://archive.org/details/Computer_Video_Games_Issue_106_1990-09_EMAP_Publishing_GB/Computer__Video_Games_Issue_106_1990-09_EMAP_Publishing_GB?view=theater#page/n11/mode/2up

https://archive.org/details/ACE_Issue_37_1990-10_Future_Publishing_GB/page/n5/mode/2up?view=theater

https://www.gamespot.com/articles/wii-arrives-in-europe-december-8-for/1100-6157699/

https://www.ign.com/articles/2006/09/14/us-wii-price-launch-date-reveal

https://sega.fandom.com/wiki/Mega_Drive#:~:text=Sega%20was%20not%20able%20to,price%20reduced%20slightly%20to%20%24190.

https://vgsales.fandom.com/wiki/Launch_price

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2002/mar/14/microsoftxbox.microsoft