The True Cost of Console Ownership in 2009

With the price of Wii Motion Plus bringing the cost of a full Wiimote to a whopping $US80, we thought we'd reexamine the true cost of buying a console today. Which is truly the cheapest?

AU: All of this is based on US pricings, of course. When Nintendo announce the local launch date and price of MotionPlus, I'll work out the local costings for you guys.

We're going to pretend we're either a family of four or an apartment that wants a system loaded up with four controllers. We'll assume you want to be able to recharge your controllers rather than wasting money on disposable batteries, and we'll pick the model of each console that we'd recommend to a family member asking us for advice. We'll also factor in the cost of 2 games, because nobody buys a console without a game.

So what's the true cost of going out and buying a system today? Let's find out.

Playstation 3
Cost of console: $US400 (80GB)
Cost of 3 extra controllers: $US43 x 3 = $US129
Cost of charging station: $US25
Cost of 2 games: $US120
Cost of HDMI cable: $US3

Total: $US677

Wii
Cost of console: $US250
Cost of 3 extra controllers: $US36 x 3 = $US108
Cost of 3 Nunchuks: $US18 x 3 = $US54
Cost of 4 Wii Motion Pluses: $US20 x 4 = $US80
Cost of charging station w/ 4 rechargeable batteries: $US49
Cost of 2 games: $US100
SD card: $US12 (8GB)

Total: $US653

Xbox 360
Cost of console: $US300 (60GB)
Cost of 3 extra controllers: $US37 x 3 = $US111
Cost of 2 rechargeable batteries: $US12 x 2 = $US24
Cost of recharging station w/ 2 rechargeable batteries: $US30
Cost of 2 games: $US120
Cost of Xbox Live membership: $US43 (13 months)

Total: $US628

As you can see, the prices of all three consoles are incredibly close, and you can obviously fiddle with these configurations to change them. If you only want 2 controllers and are planning to only play Wii Sports, the Wii is still the cheapest, but a fully-loaded Xbox 360 with a year of Live is actually cheaper than the fully-loaded Wii (although it's the only console without WiFi, so add $US80 if you really need that). And the PS3 is surprisingly close in price, thanks to its controllers having built-in batteries and its free online service. The Nintendo controller scheme really rockets it up in price, and it's pretty amazing that a Wii with 4 controllers is only $US24 less than a PS3 with 4 controllers.

So really, it comes down to what you want in a console. But it's surprising to see that, in real-world prices, all three systems will set you back about the same amount, with the Xbox 360 being the cheapest of them all even when you factor in a monthly fee for online gaming.

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