Related Videos

Video Game Consoles that FAILED the Hardest

VO: Ashley Bowman WRITTEN BY: Jarett Burke
Not all consoles are created equally, and there are a lot of terrible and failed consoles out there. Keep in mind that doesn't mean that all failed consoles are terrible, I mean why did the Dreamcast fail? :(

You must register to a corporate account to download this video. Please login

Failed Video Game Consoles

If you ever owned one of these consoles, chances are this video will bring up some painful memories! We apologize in advance…

It’s time to take a look at consoles (including handhelds and unreleased systems) that were financial failures – even if they had some good games available – and never really caught on commercially. So, they didn’t stick around for too long. How many were sold? How much did they cost upon release? How did we ever fall for their marketing campaigns?! Uhhh, sorry… Just needed to vent.

Sega Dreamcast

OK! OK! Before you start yelling at the screen, we know that the Dreamcast rocked! “Shenmue,” the “Sonic Adventure” games, “Crazy Taxi,” “Soulcalibur” – there’s tons of games and good times to be had on this system. It’s just that coming off of it’s previous failure: The Sega Saturn, the Dreamcast was do or die for Sega. And, by the time the PS2 came around, well … the Dreamcast just couldn’t compete, it was less powerful, had no DVD support, and it’s 3rd party lineup was dwarfed by what Sony had. Thus it only selling nine million units overall and causing Sega to take heavy losses seeing as sales came nowhere near matching their expectations. The console was discontinued in 2001, only being on the market for a brief three years, and it would unfortunately be Sega’s last console to date, but we’d sure love to see the company take one more swing at it!

Nokia N-Gage

The N-Gage is another case of “if only this OTHER system didn’t exist…” as it was ultimately outsold by the Gameboy Advanced by a ratio of 100-1. Yes… 100-1! In fact, sales were so bad with 1.5 million units over two years; that retailers started offering one hundred dollar discounts just to get the hardware moving off their shelves and it’s easy to see why. The system has a myriad of design flaws, from it’s phone speakers being on the rim instead of the face, to the fact that you had to take the phone apart just to change the game cartridge. Not to mention that the phone keypad just wasn’t comfortable to play games with. It was a hybrid that doesn’t do either thing right, and that’s a recipe for disaster.

Nintendo Virtual Boy

Before the Wii-U caused legions of Nintendo fans to doubt the once Almighty Japanese Gaming Company there was the Virtual Boy back in the Mid-90s. And, Oh Boy!, was this thing ever a mess!! If you’ve ever seen pictures of Virtual Boy games, you know the red & black display was truly awful; and, if you’ve ever seen the device itself you’ll wonder just what Nintendo was thinking in releasing such an awkward design. It doesn’t help that the product was forced to the market unfinished so the company could re-focus all its efforts on the N64 either. Add to this, the fact that the damned thing cost over two hundred bucks back in 1995 (which would get you a PS4 today) and it’s a wonder how it even sold the paltry 770 thousand units it did, making it Nintendo’s second lowest-selling device after the N64DD.

Apple Bandai Pippin

For this entry, we’ll have to try and remember a time when everything Apple touched wasn’t an instant, overwhelming success. That time was the 90s. The Now Famed Tech company teamed up with Japanese toy maker Bandai (who also didn’t have much experience in video games) and shipped an incredibly slow home console that was basically just an old Mac wrapped up in a sleek white box. Not only did it have to compete with the PSOne while costing twice as much, but it also failed to have even one slightly memorable game at launch. Kind of hard to market something slow, bland and expensive isn’t it? Sales of the Pippen were so bad that the console was pulled from US markets and eventually discontinued just a year after launch, with final sales figures hitting the 42 thousand mark. This is one gadget Apple would love us to forget!

Panasonic 3DO Interactive Multiplayer

You could say the 3DO was ahead of its time by putting games on CDs when cartridges were still the norm; but, then again, it’s probably the thing that also sunk the console as well, because the price to produce the hardware meant it sold at a whopping $700. What kid could convince their parents to shell out that kind of cash for a video game system?! Also, there were not many companies developing games on CDs at the time, so there was very little content for the console overall. The 3DO only lasted for three years, and sold two million units; and, at one point, The 3DO Company was taking a loss of one hundred dollars for every console sold. We’re no economists, but even we know that’s not sustainable!

Atari Jaguar & Jaguar CD

Atari’s last kick at the can on home consoles obviously wasn’t the success they had dreamed up prior to its release in 1993. Despite being reasonably priced at $250, the system only managed to sell roughly 250 thousand units. So, what went wrong? Well First, it was marketed as the first 64 bit console when, really, it was a 32 bit system with a beefed up graphics card. Second, technical problems with the hardware’s system architecture scared away nearly all of its 3rd party developers. And lastly, it had way too many add-ons and peripherals for such an underwhelming system: case in point, the Jaguar CD, which was released (for some unknown reason) two years later when the console was clearly not a success. Why anyone would release a CD add-on after Sega’s crashed and burned is beyond us…

RDI Video Systems’ Halcyon

Just because it was never released, doesn’t mean the Halcyon wasn’t a total failure. In fact, it’s probably more so for never having reached the marketplace! The system was planned to ship in 1985 and was constructed using RCA’s Capacitance Electronic Disc player (or CED for short), but after RCA ceased production of the CED player, the Halcyon switched to laser disc… and we all know how successful laser discs became! Basically, the cost of production once using laser disc was too pricy and plans to take the unit from prototype to full production never came to be. The remaining prototypes were handed out to investors but even they’d only have two games to play on the machine, as out of a planned six games only two were finished: “Thayer’s Quest” and “NFL Football: LA Raiders vs. San Diego Chargers.”

Philips CDi

It really all comes down to the CDi as the Mother of All Financial Failures in the video game world, with Philips estimated to have taken a loss as high as one billion dollars. Yes, we said billion! That’s mega bucks… But, the system never really knew just what it was: interactive multimedia thingy or video game system? Well, looking back it’s not even clear to us, so it must have been extremely confusing to consumers back in 1991. Also, with an initial price tag of one thousand dollars, it’s hard to imagine anyone but rich, tech-types dropping that amount of coin on a console that was barely able to play video games. Even getting the green light to use massively successful Nintendo characters in Link, Zelda, Mario and Luigi wasn’t enough to help Philips breakeven, so this console was almost assuredly doomed for failure.


Sign in to access this feature

Related Blogs