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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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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.

If you do plan to game, make sure you have the best broadband for gaming, check out our broadband deals.

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 VII, 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 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.

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

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 planned to buy Black Friday 2021

We surveyed the nation to find out what the majority of consumers planned to purchase in the Black Friday 2021 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

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Methodology and sources