Lynx, as it’s called, should be a sure thing. It has a full-color backlit display that contrasts sharply with the Game Boy’s monochrome display. It also has the ability to flip the screen if you turn it upside down, allowing left-handed gamers to play using the d-pad on the right and the buttons on the left. Not to mention, the Lynx runs 16-bit, while Nintendo is still distributing 8-bit games (via Engadget).
While the Lynx beat the Game Boy in pure functionality, Atari made the same mistake as the Action Max, too Relying on form factor and not enough emphasis on actual gameplay. Lynx has limited titles to compete with emerging darlings like the Super Mario franchise. It also definitely drains battery, and even though it’s prettier, the overall experience becomes less pleasant. Despite its superior technology, it simply has no chance.
Commodore 64 Gaming System
The Commodore 64 is best known today as an old computer, but it is an excellent gaming system in its own right. Users can plug in games and play games on the C64 by using the keyboard and other peripherals (via Gizmodo). Then, in 1990, the company set its sights on the home gaming market.
The Commodore 64 Games System is largely a redesigned C64 with a joystick instead of a keyboard. It can play all the same games as the original C64, with the notable exception that you can’t play any games that require a keyboard. What’s more, if you want to play games on the Commodore, you can buy a computer for about the same price as the Games System and enjoy additional features (via Old-Computers.com). Some games are made specifically for gaming systems, but there are very few of them. That means the Commodore is competing with the NES and Sega Genesis, both of which have dedicated game titles and are designed specifically for home play.
Maybe Commodore thinks it’s worth the risk because it doesn’t have to go to the trouble of making new equipment to Dive into the gaming pool. In any case, the experiment failed, and the C64 gaming system sold less than a quarter of the 80,000 units it sold before it collapsed.
Sega Saturn Interneteable/Shutterstock
arrive In the early ’90s, Sega had established itself as a major player in the gaming market, thanks in large part to the popularity of the Sega Genesis and its iconic character Sonic. The campus competition depends on whether you’re a Nintendo kid or a Sonic kid, and while Nintendo ultimately won, the Genesis did well in the market, selling roughly 29 million units (via IGN) over its lifetime.
With the next generation of consoles on the way, Sega is making plans for its next device, the Sega Saturn . In 1994, the Saturn was released to much fanfare in Japan, initially selling 200,000 units (via Game Informer). But, that’s how things got derailed.
As Game Informer explained, Sony was about to release the first PlayStation, and Sega executives were terrified. So they released the Saturn earlier than originally planned, hoping to beat Sony in the market. The patched version means it’s only available at select retailers at launch, and doesn’t have the robust lineup of games needed to support a console launch. To make matters worse, the PlayStation launched at a lower price soon after.
By 1998, Saturn was discontinued, with only 9 million units sold, compared to 100 million for PlayStation.
Virtual Boy By the mid-90s, Nintendo had dominated the home gaming space for over a decade, but cracks were beginning to show. Sony’s first PlayStation console just rolled off the assembly line and is poised to snatch Nintendo from its top spot. Sure, the Nintendo 64 would be a big hit in 1996, but in the meantime, Nintendo was trying to do some really weird things with the Virtual Boy.
Virtual reality gaming is only making some progress after nearly three years, and now the technology has somewhat caught up with ambition . But in 1995, none of that was true. Despite these limitations, Nintendo has attempted to offer immersive 3D gaming by strapping the console to the player’s face. While it offered a virtual reality version, users were forced to trade comfort and all colors except black and red for the privilege.
According to AV Club, this is because the graphics are unstable if full color graphics are provided, and the red LED Very cheap. As with many console failures, the real kicker is the poor game lineup. Virtual Boy produced a total of 22 titles, many of which didn’t work well with 3D, or suffered from monochrome displays. By 1996, the Virtual Boy was discontinued. Some reports say it only sold about 770,000 units. If unsuccessful, it remains an interesting relic of gaming history.
Apple Bandai Pipin
Apple may be the top tech giant today, but that wasn’t the case when it partnered with toy maker Bandai to break into the gaming market in 1996. Their console, called Pippin, was based on Apple’s Mac computer, but didn’t have any internal operating system. Instead, all the heavy lifting is done by the game itself (via Insider).
Commodore’s earlier efforts went awry, using existing technology in the home computer world to try to gain a foothold in the game. Like their previous C64 gaming system, the effort failed. Pippin plays ported games from the Mac and uses a fun controller with a mouse trackball.
Pippin is not bad: it does have some cool features like being able to play games. This means you can buy games from other countries and play them anywhere, which is still not available by default on most consoles. Ultimately, Pippin offered too little and cost too much. According to Insider, it retails for $600, double the price of the PlayStation (via the PSU) and triple the price of the N64. Consumers didn’t like it, and Pippin only sold 42,000 units before pulling out after a year of launch.
Dreamcast is actually a pretty good console, and the failure is even more surprising. That’s partly due to Sega losing its footing on Saturn, but more to do with some questionable design decisions and a changing market.
Electronic Arts quit the console prior to release because it considered a red flag. Even so, the Dreamcast has some impressive games, including a usable port of the arcade game House of the Dead 2.
Dreamcast’s killing blow comes from hardware. While the game is played on disc, the console cannot play DVD (via CBR). When Sony included the feature in the PlayStation 2, it went a long way in winning over consumers (via The Gamer). When it comes time to buy a game console, whether it can also play movies is a deciding factor for many.
To make matters worse, Dreamcast suffers from lackluster piracy protections. According to CBR, users quickly discovered that they could burn games to standard CD-Rs and share them with friends. The impact this will have on game sales may be uncertain, but it certainly won’t help. All told, the Dreamcast had sold about 6.5 million units before Sega decided to stop production. When the Sega Dreamcast died, so did Sega’s console efforts (via CBR). The company has since focused on making games for other platforms.
Nintendo 64 itself Well done, selling around 33 million units during its lifetime (via Venture Beat), but not so much for the Nintendo 64DD. It’s not a console itself, but more of a Nintendo 64 add-on that promises to upgrade Nintendo’s flagship device to the next-gen console.
According to IGN, it allows players to extract images from TVs, make 3D models, and even build for certain games own level. It also includes a raw internet connection, allowing players to share their creations with other gamers. If the 64DD was released at or near the time of the Nintendo 64, it could be a game-changer, but it doesn’t wait for the console.
Originally planned for release in 1997, just a year after the release of the Nintendo 64, it didn’t actually hit shelves until 1999. Even so, it only came out in Japan and was never made to travel to the states. The delay meant the hardware was outdated when it hit shelves, with only about 15,000 units sold. The Nintendo 64DD has officially failed. Ultimately, many games prepared for DD were only later released on the standard Nintendo 64.
Following Sony’s first handheld After the success of the PSP, the company hopes to do even better with the PlayStation Vita. On paper, it was supposed to be a contender in the handheld market, but something went wrong along the way.
The Vita had an uphill battle against the reigning champion of handheld consoles, Nintendo, right from the start. The DS remains the best-selling handheld computer of all time, with over 154 million units sold (via Visual Capitalist). It’s one of the best-selling consoles of all time, handheld or otherwise. To compete, the Vita goes the extra mile with features, and it doesn’t slack off.
In addition, in order to have cutting-edge graphics, at the time, users could also use the Vita for remote gaming. With a wireless connection, the Vita can connect to your PS4 and play almost any game anywhere in the world as long as both the PS4 and Vita are connected to the Internet. At home, you can also use the Vita as a secondary screen to display in-game peripheral information (via PlayStation).
All it needs is a robust library of games to complement the objectivity it provides for your main console Cool extras, and that’s where Sony fails. In response to the growing popularity of mobile gaming on phones, Sony squandered the Vita, pulling first-party games (via TheGamer) just four years after its release.
In the years leading up to the Wii U’s release, Nintendo was on a roll. At the time, the Wii was the best-selling home console produced by Nintendo, with over 100 million units sold (via Nintendo). All Nintendo needed to do was keep the momentum going, but the Wii U failed to capture the same excitement from the gaming community.
Failure There are several components at work. One is the confusion about what the Wii U actually is. According to Nintendo, some consumers see the tablet-style controller as a Wii peripheral rather than a component of a brand new console. Perhaps more important is the failure to release key titles on a fast enough schedule. At this point, one would think console makers would understand the importance of releasing a sufficiently robust library, but even Nintendo seems to have stumbled upon the mark.
The console featured 23 games, but only one of them was from the flagship Super Mario series ( via Nintendo Life). These factors combined to cause the Wii U to fail, with only 13.56 million units sold. This is Nintendo’s best-selling console ever, aside from the Virtual Boy. Fortunately for Nintendo and us, the company learned from these mistakes in time to give the world the Switch.
Fraser Kerr Photography/Shutterstock
When Eurasia first came to public attention in 2012, it seemed destined to be the next big thing in gaming. It successfully managed a Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $8.5 million from more than 63,000 backers—about six times its funding goal.
It promises users a powerful console for $99 (via The Verge). Ouya strives to connect gamers with developers, allowing access to independently created games, many of which are free. This almost sounds too good to be true, which should be a warning.
While Eurasia eventually shipped as promised, it failed to deliver on much of the hardware and software it made promise. Perhaps worse, the console hits shelves before being shipped to backers, which may feel like a slap in the face to those who made it possible (via Crowdfund Insider). Still, folks get their consoles, and they’ll probably be happy if the library of games is as promised. Unfortunately, many people find these products make them want.
Things got worse as indie developers jumped to PlayStation and Xbox, both companies struggling to Indie games are launched on their respective platforms. The Ouya ecosystem was unable to sustain itself and the server shut down in 2019 (via SVG).