Daily Illuminator

September 25, 2021: Inflation, Or 1987 Car Wars Prices Vs. 2021 Prices


One downside to a 40+ year history as a company? The "back in my day, we paid . . . " brigade and the ever-painful reality of inflation. I'm personally as guilty of this as anyone, and remind myself regularly that this isn't 1987 and that games should cost more than they once did. After watching a few Facebook discussions over the last month, I thought it might be fun to yank a few pages from a 1987 Steve Jackson Games catalog and show the old prices vs. what those same items (near-exact reprints created thanks to your support on Kickstarter) cost today.

  • Car Wars - $6.50 in 1987, $19.95 today. When we use a handy inflation calculator, we see that $6.50 in 1987 dollars is roughly the equivalent of $15 today. Considering that the newest printing of the game includes die-cut components (which we did not have in 1987, as my fingers at the time would happily prove), the extra $5 is totally worth it.
  • Car Wars Expansion Set 1 - $4.50 in 1987, $10 today. $4.50 adjusted for inflation is the equivalent of $10.39 today, meaning that this is an even better deal than it was in the eighties.
  • GURPS Autoduel - $10.50 in 1987, $20 today. Running the inflation calculator, we see that $10.50 in 1987 dollars is the equivalent of about $24 today. Another bargain!

We could run through every single older title and compare the prices to today, but this snapshot should give you a clearer understanding of why we cannot simply expect prices from our youth to be relevant or appropriate today. Unless you've got a product that sells in the millions – I'm looking at you, Hot Wheels, and your incredible pricing  we have to accept that things simply cost more now. That's why I like to turn to inflation calculators every now and then – to remind myself that $10 when I was 19 is not the same as $10 when I am now 49!

-- Phil Reed

P.S. And don't get me started on Dungeons & Dragons prices! In my day, we paid way less than $50 for a Player's Handbook! Of course, $50 today would be the equivalent of $117 in 1987 dollars, but who wants to face the reality of inflation? Not me! 


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