$400 and $500 may seem like a lot for a new PS4 or Xbox One with the economy the way it is (is the economy still bad? I can’t tell, I feel like people have been saying this for years now. I also have an economics degree), but historically, there have been far higher console prices at launch.
Due to the magic of inflation, systems that seem cheap now from decades past were really quite pricey indeed. In this handy guide from Dorkly, we see that the original PS3 was a whopping $567 at launch, with the Sega Saturn at $595. But even those pale in comparison to the Atari 2600 ($796), the Intellevision ($935) and the ridiculous Neo Geo at $1,125. Congrats to the Gamecube for winning the “cheap as shit” award, with most Nintendo consoles being at the bottom end of the price spectrum.