Tom's Hardware: "The most powerful and most advanced graphics cards in the PC world will always be prohibitively expensive for a great majority of enthusiasts, unfortunately. Of course, the best and newest hardware costs a lot of money to research and develop, so manufacturers recuperate a lot of these costs with high-priced premium models for the early adopters. There will always be the gamers out there who will pay for those pricey toys regardless of the cost. The rest of us wait until the second- or third-tier models arrive, with not quite as much performance, but a much lower price tag. But these second- and third-tier models didn't always exist.
In the early years of 3D accelerators, graphics card manufacturers had very few card models in their lineups. Each vendor tended to sell only one 3D processor flavor, and they usually charged a very high price for it. To game on the PC, you had to be willing to spend some serious money on a 3D accelerator or you didn't get to play demanding games at all.
Nvidia was the first company to really change the game by taking its top-end GPU, crippling it just a little, and charging a fraction of the price it demanded for its top model. Nvidia began this strategy with the launch of the GeForce 2 MX, which could offer a similar feature set as the high-end GeForce 2 and deliver reasonable performance without costing an arm and a leg. Suddenly, regular gamers had access to affordable 3D gaming on the PC. And they sold like hotcakes."