I can’t believe how many times this has come up.
Might as well ask, why can’t I buy a NASCAR race car for $20,000. Its just a car, right?
3d software programs in general are very complex things. The math and solvers that are needed to push the limit into the next versions increase almost exponetially. Who doesn’t want to pay $100 for a program that will allow you to model, shade and render hair, raytracing, and fluids in real time?
At the same time think about how much money you want to charge clients for your work. No one is going to pay you more than $10 an hour when some kid could buy the software after mowing 5 lawns.
I know, I know this is an elitist view (heck I’ve been saving for months to buy Maya and am not there yet) but in a way its good for the prices to be so high. It allows us to charge more for our services and consequently reap higher rewards for our hard work.