Top 10 FAILED Video Game Consoles

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Top 10 FAILED Video Game Consoles

VOICE OVER: Andrew Tejada WRITTEN BY: Johnny Reynolds
It's time to dig through the video game console graveyard and showcase the 10 biggest failures. For this list, we'll be looking at home and handheld consoles that were financial disasters for their companies. We're not saying these consoles are bad, though in some cases they are, just that they failed to sell enough units. Our countdown includes the Sega Saturn, the Nintendo Virtual Boy, the Atari Jaguar, and more!
Transcript
Script written by Johnny Reynolds

It's time to dig through the video game console graveyard and showcase the 10 biggest failures. For this list, we’ll be looking at home and handheld consoles that were financial disasters for their companies. We’re not saying these consoles are bad, though in some cases they are, just that they failed to sell enough units. Our countdown includes the Sega Saturn, the Nintendo Virtual Boy, the Atari Jaguar, and more! Did you own any of these consoles? Which do you wish had succeeded? Let us know in the comments below.

#10: Wii U (2012-17)


Things were looking great for Nintendo coming off the Wii. But things started looking bad as soon as the Wii U was revealed. Its vague announcement trailer, which only focused on the GamePad, had most consumers confused as to whether it was a new console or simply an add-on for the Wii. With initial sales poor, the Wii U began losing third-party support. First-party titles, as stellar as they were, were few and far between. So, there really wasn’t a whole lot to pull players in. The console only sold 13.56 million units, a fraction of what the Wii sold. But at least the unique Game Pad design was repurposed for the much more popular Switch.

#9: Sega Saturn (1994-2000)


The Dreamcast is often credited for forcing Sega out of the console market. But part of the reason Sega had to do this was because of the financial disappointment of its previous console, the Saturn. Sega decided to surprise launch the Saturn in the US four months early, catching players and retailers off guard. The stunt would cost Sega dearly as soon after, Sony revealed the upcoming PlayStation’s price to be $100 cheaper. Complex hardware design led to limited third-party support and the Saturn simply couldn’t compete with the N64 and Sony’s debut console. Of its 6-year lifespan, it was only available in the US for 3 before being discontinued and collectively sold 9.26 million units.

#8: Nokia N-Gage (2003-06)


Multiple companies attempted to encroach on Nintendo's handheld territory over the years and they all failed to varying degrees. In a pre-iPhone era, Nokia tried to blend its phone business with that of mobile gaming. The result was the N-Gage, an extremely awkward hybrid. Criticisms ranged from its buttons, which weren’t really meant for gaming, to its design; you had to remove its cover and battery in order to change your game cart. Needless to say, the N-Gage did not distract us from the Game Boy Advance. Nintendo’s handheld initially outsold it 100:1, with some retailers offering a $100 rebate 2 1/2 weeks after launch. All in all, it only sold 3 million units in its 3-year lifespan.

#7: 3DO Interactive Multiplayer (1993-96)


For all intents and purposes, the 3DO was ahead of its time. But that’s partially what hurt its chances. The system was the brainchild of EA founder Trip Hawkins. Remarkably, it used CDs before most other consoles and offered better royalty rates to publishers than its competitors. Unfortunately, the 3DO Company outsourced hardware manufacturing to other companies, like Panasonic, leading to the insanely high launch price of $700 in the US. A severe lack of exclusives made it an even harder sell. It would drop to $400 the following year, but Sega and Nintendo pretty much had the whole market covered. Despite multiple iterations of the machine, the 3DO only sold 2 million units.

#6: Virtual Boy (1995-96)


Compared to the Virtual Boy, the Wii U was a resounding success. The handheld, if you can call it that, used early 3D technology through its eyepiece. The bulky monstrosity sat on a surface while players held their faces to it. Not only was it uncomfortable to use, but its games were only in red and black. The monochrome color design paired with the stereoscopic 3D graphics could cause eye strain after short periods. Nintendo actually rushed it out the door so it could use more resources for the upcoming N64. Unsurprisingly, it bombed. It only lasted a year, released a scarce 22 games, and sold 770,000 units.

#5: Philips CDi (1990-98)


The CDi was another early disc-based console that launched at far too high a price. Developed as a partnership between Philips and Sony, the multimedia platform lets you surf the web, listen to CDs, and play games among other features. What it’s most remembered for today, though, and not at all fondly, are the horrendous “Zelda” and “Mario” games that came from a failed deal between Philips and Nintendo. For a platform that offered so many features, the CDi launched at $1,000 in the US before dropping significantly. But a price drop didn’t help matters. The CDi only sold 570,000 units globally and cost Philips $1 billion in losses.

#4: Ouya (2013-15)


Just because something has a successful Kickstarter campaign doesn’t mean it will be a success. Case in point: the Ouya. The microconsole was made with casual gamers in mind and designed in a way that it could be easily taken apart, modded, and used by players to develop their own games. However, it didn’t have enough dedicated titles to draw attention away from the Big 3, of which the Ouya also couldn’t compete with on a power level. It was a neat experiment and initial reception was mostly positive. But not many bought in outside the Kickstarter backers, causing the system to only sell around 200,000 units in its lifespan.

#3: Atari Jaguar & Jaguar CD (1993-96)


Atari had a long, painful decline as it exited the console market. The once-renowned company’s last console was the Jaguar. It was marketed as the only 64-bit console available, although the truth was that it had two 32-bit processors. This cheeky marketing tactic was the butt of many jokes. However, that design made it difficult on game developers. Without necessary support, the Jaguar only released 50 games in its lifespan and this was reflected in its dismal sales. Additionally, Atari inexplicably released a disc-based add-on in 1995 as a way to prolong the inevitable. The Jaguar sold an embarrassing 150,000 units before Atari decided to call it quits.

#2: Apple Pippin (1996-97)


Apple may seem like a company too big to fail, but it’s seen its fair share of bombs. The Pippin, Apple’s console collaboration with Bandai, is one of those bombs. It was created as an alternative to expensive PCs, even using Mac OS architecture and connecting to the internet. That’s all well and good, but between Nintendo, Sega, and Sony, most consumers didn’t look twice at the Pippin. It originally launched at $599, an absurd asking price for a console whose main selling point was going online. Even that feature was flawed; it couldn’t run most web browsers people used. And it didn’t have any stand-out titles to uphold its games aspect. No wonder it only sold 42,000 units.

#1: Gizmondo (2005-06)


Although this handheld didn’t cost as much to produce as many failed home consoles, its miniscule sales numbers and the implosion of its manufacturer can’t be ignored. Tiger Telematics released the Gizmondo in 2005, yet announced a widescreen version mere weeks before its US launch. This definitely hurt its sales potential, but there’s a lot more to this story. An expose on Tiger’s executives revealed criminal ties, including Director of Gizmondo Europe Stefan Erikkson’s ties to a Swedish mafia. This, combined with poor initial sales and overspending on promotion, led to Tiger Telematics declaring bankruptcy in 2006, less than a year after the handheld’s release. It sold less than 25,000 units all together.
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