8 Famous Video Game Consoles (That Were Complete Failures)

  • Nobody will ever forget these game consoles — for all the wrong reasons.

Many video game systems of the past few decades are real classics. They’ve brought endless hours of fun and excitement to countless gamers all around the world.

But then are the ones that are famous for the exact opposite reasons. These are the consoles that no one liked back in the day and no one likes now — unless you count cracking jokes about how awful they were.

But in all fairness, not every failed video game console was bad, per se. Some of them simply had poor launches or they were too far ahead of their time.

That didn’t help them perform any better, though. Here are 8 video game consoles (in)famous for being utter and total failures.

8. Sega Dreamcast

Once upon a time, Sega was a giant in video games. Its classic consoles competed neck-to-neck with Nintendo. Come the late ‘90s, the Dreamcast was supposed to be Sega’s rival for the PlayStation and the Xbox.

But it never became much of a rival. Dreamcast was such a horrendous commercial failure that it ended up being the last game console Sega would ever make.

Now, Dreamcast isn’t a bad console and it had some good, classic games. But a mismanaged launch, weird advertisements, lack of a DVD player, and some questionable design choices led to its downfall.

7. Sega 32X

But the Dreamcast isn’t Sega’s only failed console. In 1994, the company released the 32X. We don’t really even know where to begin with this thing.

First of all, the 32X wasn’t an independent console — it was an add-on for the Sega Genesis (aka the Mega Drive). It promised to bring 32-bit gaming to the originally 16-bit console.

But the 32X didn’t have much to offer. The graphical and audio improvements it provided were marginal at best. It also didn’t have many games, so gamers found it difficult to justify the (admittedly rather cheap) investment.

But the worst blunder of all was that Sega Saturn — Sega’s independent 32-bit console — had already come out in Japan by the time the 32X launched. Sega essentially made an inferior product that tried to compete with their own system.

6. Atari Jaguar

Atari once dominated the video game market but fell by the wayside in the early ‘80s. The Atari Jaguar from 1993 was supposed to put the company back in the spotlight.

Atari marketed the Jaguar as the first 64-bit game console. That’s a great sales hook — but it wasn’t true.

Atari Jaguar had a 32-bit processor, but some esoteric hackery amped that up to 64-bits of memory. Maybe Atari thought nobody would notice, but gamers did. And they weren’t happy.

Jaguar games ran poorly and there weren’t many of them, because the console’s bizarre construction made it difficult to program. The system failed and took Atari with it — they never made another game console.

5. Nokia N-Gage

Nokia was the top dog of mobile phones in the 2000s. So, it made sense when they released the N-Gage, which was supposed to bring mobile phones and handheld video game consoles into one.

Unfortunately, N-Gage quickly became a laughingstock of the mobile phone market. We already talked about it in our article on the most incomprehensible mobile phone designs ever.

To switch the game on the N-Gage, you had to pull out its battery. That was a hassle and meant you had to turn the phone off. If you wanted to talk on the phone, you had to hold it at a bizarre angle and talk into its side.

Nokia did release an updated N-Gage QD within a year, but the device’s reputation had already gone down the drain.

4. Apple Bandai Pippin

Today, Apple is famous for its iPhones and Mac computers. In 1996, they also tried to break into the video game market with the Pippin, developed together with the Japanese toy and game giant Bandai.

Based on Mac architecture, the Pippin was supposed to be more than a game console. Apple intended for it to become your one-stop shop for all your home entertainment needs — TV, games, and even the internet.

But the Pippin did none of those things particularly well. It had very few games and browsing the internet on a mid-90s game console was awkward at best and impossible at worst.

As the final nail in the coffin, the thing cost $599 — a ridiculously expensive price for the day. When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, one of the first things he did was to put the Pippin on the chopping block.

3. Philips CD-I

The Philips CD-I is a story of all-around failure. A bit of history — in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, Nintendo was working with multiple companies on a CD-based version of the Super Nintendo. One of their partners was Philips.

The project ended up failing, so Philips turned their SNES add-on into its own game console. Their contact with Nintendo also gave them a license to some Nintendo titles, like Mario and Zelda.

Like the Apple Pippin, the CD-I was marketed as a complete entertainment station. But it did nothing well, it was expensive and bulky, and the few games it had were…

Well, just take a look.

Fun fact, another company Nintendo was working with at the time was Sony. Their canceled Nintendo add-on also developed into a game console called the PlayStation. Maybe you’ve heard of it.

2. Nintendo Virtual Boy

Today, VR games are very close to becoming mainstream. But game companies have been wanting to break into virtual reality for ages. In 1995, Nintendo tried that with the Virtual Boy.

Unfortunately, the product they put on the market wasn’t even completely finished. Virtual Boy was a freak of design in that it was more like a pair of goggles that gave you an impression of three-dimensional space.

But the thing started straining your eyes within minutes and it even came with warnings that it could cause vision damage. The horrible-looking black-and-red monochrome screen certainly didn’t help.

The Virtual Boy only ever got 22 games, none of which were particularly memorable. The console existed only for one year before Nintendo pulled the plug on it.

1. Ouya

The Ouya is a prime example of a product that served no purpose. It was meant to be a cheap game console that would let you play Android-based mobile games on your TV. You know, the same ones you play on your phone.

These are games that are designed to be played quickly on your phone. Most mobile games are — by design — simple and easy to play so you can get a few minutes of gaming in on your lunch break or while waiting for a bus or something.

So why would you get the Ouya when you can just play the games on your phone? We don’t know, and neither did anyone else.

The Ouya sold abysmally poorly and got discontinued shortly after its launch. It simply served no purpose whatsoever.

But the most bizarre thing about it is that it was crowdfunded. So clearly there must’ve been some people who thought it was a good idea.