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There have been some fantastic success stories in the world of video games. Sony and Microsoft both came in the Nintendo and SEGA-dominated industry with successful consoles that led to years of console dominance for each.
Nintendo managed to create the Wii, a console that transcended video games and became one of the hardest to find items of its time.
But for all of these success stories, there are plenty of failures in video games’ relatively short history. Quite a few companies have tried to enter the video game battle only to fail miserably. Today, we’re going to look at some of those catastrophic failures.
1. Atari 5200
The Atari 5200 is one of the oldest instances of a video game console failing, and it’s certainly up there in terms of most catastrophic, as Atari didn’t survive the failure for much longer (though it did limp its way to market with other consoles after this one). This was the beginning of the end for Atari, and it was almost the end of the entire video game industry.
The Atari 2600 truly put home video gaming on the map, so for the follow up to be such a dreadful commercial failure was shocking. However, when you dig into the reasons why it failed it makes sense—most of the games released for the 5200 were just updates 2600 games.
Atari did manage to learn its lesson by the time the 7800 released, but it was too late at that point. While the 7800 did see moderate success, it was too little too late for Atari, and the company never managed to find its footing in the gaming world again.
Gaming on phones is absolutely massive with the rise of the App Store and Google Play. People who would never consider themselves gamers spend hours with their phones in hand playing video games without a second thought.
Before Apple and Google figured out that touchscreens were the key to mobile gaming, Nokia tried a very different approach with the N-Gage. It’s an absolutely hideous device with far too many buttons to actually make sense as a gaming console or a phone. It had a taco-shaped design that didn’t look great for either of its intended purposes. Plus, when you made a call, you had to hold the device out sideways, which was completely nonsensical.
I probably don’t need to elaborate too much on why the N-Gage failed. It was a phone that looked terrible, played games off cartridges, and had an awkward, uncomfortable control scheme. It was ahead of its time, which could have been part of its downfall—people weren’t ready to take phone gaming seriously in 2003.
3. Virtual Boy
Virtual reality is certainly here in 2019. It certainly wasn’t there when Nintendo released its red monochromatic-toting Virtual Boy console in 1995. The device itself was pretty cool looking, but once you placed your face into it and looked at the bright red screens that felt like they were going to burn your retinas, any semblance of looking cool was out the window.
This is just a bad console that deserved to fail. Thankfully, it wasn’t Nintendo’s primary console in 1995, and the company was seeing massive success at the tail end of the Super Nintendo’s life, so this terrible device didn’t sink the company. Still, it’s most definitely a failure, and it looks hilarious when compared to what VR is like today.
The Dreamcast and its successor the SEGA Saturn actually managed to drive one of the dominating companies out of the console-making games. SEGA was right there with Nintendo all through the 16-bit generation thanks to the success of the SEGA Genesis.
Things went downhill for the company when it released a lackluster peripheral called the 32X. It followed that up the Saturn, which quickly failed and led to the Dreamcast.
And while the Dreamcast was the nail that ultimately closed SEGA’s coffin, the console itself is actually really good. The now-iconic 2K sports games took off on the Dreamcast, and there are plenty of beloved games on it like Shenmue, Sonic Adventure, Crazy Taxi, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, and Soulcalibur.
The Ouya made us realize just how big crowdfunding can be. It also made us realize that just because something is able to raise millions of dollars based on an idea doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be successful in the long run.
The microconsole used Android as its OS, which was pretty novel for a home device in 2013 (Android TV boxes are everywhere now, so it’s less exciting in 2019).
Ultimately, what killed the Ouya was delays in launching and a lackluster final console that was plagued with hardware issues. Razer eventually purchases Ouya and kept it running until June 2019. After that, all servers were shut off, rending most games for the platform unplayable.