You can't compare consoles to other stuff. That's my main point. Of course inflation matters. But it's irrevelant when it comes to consoles and general gaming.
Consoles have almost one and only purpose, which is gaming, and peoples doesn't want to spend more than 400$ just for gaming, because the games are already expensive enough (+game as a service stuffs). If the minimum you can get is 500$ + 60$ for one and only (AAA) game, that's way too much.
Remember, it's only for gaming. Not other purposes. You can access Hulu, Netflix, Prime Video and stuff on other devices almost everyone own.
Why AAA games doesn't cost 80-100$ then ? Because publishers know people won't buy it
That's special pleading: Citing something as an exception to a generally excepted rule without justifying the exception.
If it were irrelevant to consoles, then nobody would have bought a PS4. The $400 sticker price isn't anything new:
But as I've stated on multiple occasions on this thread, $400 is reasonable today, but was outrageous 25-30 years ago, because inflation has gradually reduced the value of a dollar. Nintendo and Sega wouldn't have even attempted to sell their 8-bit or 16-bit systems for $300, much less $400 (that $200 launch price for the SNES is $372 in current dollars). By 2000, though, $300 was perfectly reasonable, and by 2013 $400 was affordable.
We can easily see that the $400 Saturn and especially $400 Neo-Geo actually cost a lot more than the $500 Xbox One X when adjusted for inflation. In fact, the One X is only marginally more expensive than the PS1 was at launch, the same as the 20GB 360 was. Meanwhile, the PS4's launch price makes it the least expensive PlayStation system ever at launch, and right at around the long term adjusted average for all consoles from the Big Four.
If inflation were really irrelevant for consoles, then $400 now would be just as unreasonable now as it would have been 20-30 years ago. Clearly it is no longer a deal-breaker. Consumers are still very cognizant of the declining value of a dollar over time. That applies just as much for consoles as it does for any other consumer electronic item or other good. A reasonable sticker price for anything today would have been considered too high when my parents were my age, and obscene when my grandparents were my age. And even in the shorter term, people notice.
Now, let's assume inflation remains relatively constant, with a net change of 3% from now to Nov. 2020. Let's further assume that the PS5 costs $450 and the rumored high-end "Scarlet" model of the Xbox 4 costs $500. This is what the price chart would look like (sans Neo-Geo):
A $450 launch price for next-gen consoles would be right on par with the adjusted prices of the PS4, PS2, and OXbox, and only $67/17.5% more expensive than the SNES. $500 would be only $50 more than that. Even $500 would be imminently reasonable for a non-Nintendo console. And the price will go down over time! By the 2022 holiday season, we ought to see standard prices no more than $400, and we'll see the usual big Black Friday deals that would knock $50-100 off the price. Within two years, consumers will be able to buy a PS5 or Xbox 4 for less than $400.
As for software, games did used to have sticker prices of $70 on occasion back in the 90s. The various versions of Street Fighter II and many JRPGs had that price point. And when you adjust for inflation, even the more common price points that where in the $50-60 range would be $80-100 or more now:
Software has gotten a lot cheaper, despite the growing costs of development. Even if you ignore the higher costs of cartridges, we can see that disc-based games have gotten cheaper. While none are on the chart, Sega CD and TurboGrafx-CD games retailed for $50-60 in 1993 ($88-106 in current dollars), thus putting them on par with the cartridge-based titles of the time. PS1 and Dreamcast games have adjusted prices well north of $70. Even $50 PS2, Xbox, GameCube, and earlier Wii games are more expensive than $60 games now. But instead of a price hike to $70, we've seen increasingly aggressive monetization schemes in games, where DLC has mutated from substantial chunks of content to modern microtransactions.
Oh, and you don't have to buy games at the full $60, either. You can go on Amazon right now and buy some of the biggest hits of 2018 for less than $40 already, in new condition. If you're willing to wait, most games go down in price quite a bit. It typically took a lot longer to see declines that sharp back when I was a kid, and even the reduced prices were still comparable to a brand new title today. Even by 1993, when the NES was already well on the way out, Nintendo's budget "Classic Series" line of games were not significantly cheaper than current games. In the spring of 1993, the original Metroid was still going for $30, which is about $53 adjusted.
Buying games is quite simply a lot easier on the wallet than it used to be. The laws of economics have quite honestly spoiled us rotten. And while it doesn't excuse what many AAA publishers have done in regards to monetization in recent years, it does explain it.