One can't taste success without tasting failure, and the same can be said for companies and developers everywhere. What we see today lining the shelves in appealing boxing and being sold at light speed is nothing more than a product of hard work and endless remastering to avoid repeating mistakes of the past. Suffice it to say that a majority of consoles released in the past 50 years have taken quite a beating, and some never even made it to your local Best Buy.
Here are five of the biggest flops in gaming history, and why they made the list.
Nintendo Virtual Boy
The Nintendo Virtual Boy was revolutionary for its time. Released in 1995, it caused a hype across the nation upon release. But perhaps Nintendo was far too ahead of themselves with this one, as it was nothing but a dull, psychedelic migraine. The Virtual Boy was ergonomically inefficient, causing headaches, eye strain, and overall discomfort to gamers.
The selection of classic games was great, to be fair, but something of a horror story to look at. Not to mention the fact that the Virtual Boy displayed petty 3D graphics in a GameBoy-esque fashion.
Production ended very soon after release, and only about 800,000 of these were sold. Obviously, Nintendo never made such a ridiculously far-fetched experiment (or rather, giant mistake) like this again.
Sega's 1999 Dreamcast is definitely a memorable one. It had a great line of games, decent graphics, and fairly good software to boot. The only reasons this bad boy was a failure were that it was born at the wrong place at the wrong time, it was sadly impotent compared to the PlayStation 2 and the very first Xbox, and it emerged during an economic crisis in Japan.
In fact, the Dreamcast was the last of Sega's consoles. Having sold less than the Saturn, the company lost heart and discontinued producing gaming hardware shortly after its demise.
Nintendo Wii U
Nobody's surprised that the Wii U made it to the list. Nintendo, thankfully, made up for this 2012 mess with the success of the Switch. This expensive console was built originally to invite more hardcore gamers to the table, in contrast with its predecessor, the family-friendly Wii. Unfortunately, however, that was not to be the case.
Compared to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, the console couldn't deliver good, solid software for users to enjoy, either. The concept was also highly confusing for users, as it was a cross between an accessory for the original Wii and a tablet. Like the Dreamcast, this one was born at a very bad time and was kicked to the curb with only 13 million units sold, compared to the whopping 101 million the Wii cashed in.
Possibly the most deeply hated console in history, the Philips Compact Disc Interactive (CD-I) was an iconic fail almost from the moment it hit the market. It was ridiculously expensive, with poor graphics set upon beloved game franchises, such as Mario and Zelda.
This seemed to enrage gamers, as the console was more of a video/CD player than anything else. The name of the Philips CD-I was tainted forever and still haunts the internet to this day.
Finally a handheld for the list. The Gizmondo was probably among the most nightmarish (and dramatic) of the mentioned console failures.
In 2005, Tiger Telematics released the monochromatic handheld, meant to run hit games, send messages, use GPS services, and even play digital videos. Investors and developers were excited to get on board. Originally, the company had wanted to focus on GPS devices and safety pagers for children. This inspired a mixture of the gaming device and the GPS system, otherwise known as the infamous Gizmondo.
Unfortunately, however, the Swedish company went bankrupt at 189 million British pounds due to ridiculously high debts and even some shady criminal involvement. An illegal Ferrari carrying a convict crashed, the driver disappearing promptly thereafter. Suffice to say that people were arrested, lawsuits went down, and the console flopped big time.
The Gizmondo was ahead of its time with era-appropriate graphics, and it was considered a valuable purchase for most. It was also multi-functional. That said, it also had terrible gaming options and was cosmetically unappealing for the ridiculous price that it was sold for. In spite of its originality, the console moved sluggishly along the market, selling poorly enough without the criminal backdrop.
While there have been many more console fails throughout history, these were some of the biggest splashes made by companies that left a genuine lesson to be learned by future developers. Some companies flourished despite their failures, and others slipped into the dark, never to be heard from again.
What are some consoles you think deserve to be on the list? Comment below and stick with GameSkinny for more great content!