As with most things in business, if a product is marketed poorly and people donít know about it, itís going to fail no matter how good it is. As with games consoles, people wonít buy a console if they donít know about it, nor if the manufacturers fail to give a good reason for people to buy the console, and this ultimately leads to the lack of games. Weíve all seen the leading brands of the day, Nintendo consoles never seem to fail (except the Virtual Boy) while the PlayStation has been a solid brand, but their reputation is at stake from the PS3. Hereís a list of perfectly credible consoles that failed or at best, underachieved, due to bad marketing, pricing or the competition was just too powerful, in the descending order of sales.

Not a flop, but despite itís superiority to the NES it had a very small share compared to the NES. Itís popularity in North America was limited, partly due to bad marketing, but did manage to give a larger market share in places such as Brazil and Europe, and was home to popular pre-sonic titles such as Wonderboy and Alex Kidd, plus ran concurrently with the Mega Drive and some scaled down conversions of Mega Drive games existed and eventually spawned a more contemporary redesign. The SMS housed a number of quirky accessories, from the game cards to 3D glasses, none really took off though. The major problem with the Master System was the NES, which ha a 90% market share and third party developers were contracted to not release NES games on other platforms. A pretty decent attempt by Sega and had some good games, but essentially lacked third party support to beat the NES.

Again, not a flop, but very short lived. After Segaís chain of mistakes, from the Sega-CD, the 32X, the Saturn, it seemed companies had had enough with Sega. EA refused to give them any backing but Sega still managed to release some pretty decent games for it, whilst introducing us to online play on consoles. There wasnít anything wrong with it, but the PlayStation brand hadnít a scarred reputation and the PS2 was better, and made use of DVD technology which kicked the Dreamcastís GD-ROMS. It sold a modest 10 million, and had an excellent games library, but only lasted for 2 years as the PS2 outsold the Dreamcast and led to Sega quitting the console industry. Thank goodness for that.

Another challenger to the Game Boy, and was the first rival success since the Game Gear. Release in 1999, the Game Boy brand had a large base, and with the Game Boy Advance coming, it didnít quite take off. There was nothing wrong with it, plus utilised a thumbstick giving some analogue functionality to give a more arcade and a very smooth control experience, but the heads of SNK failed to communicate well with 3rd parties and the Game Boy was a monopoly in the handheld market, the only console to ever come close to a Nintendo handheld is the PSP.

What was that? Another console underachievement by Sega? Never! This time, the Sega Saturn had the PlayStation to compete with, however its multiprocessor architecture made it a development maverick compared to itís rival. The Saturn had an advantage of more video RAM which gave the advantage of bigger levels in 3D games and was a 2D powerhouse compared to the PlayStation, but looked down on at itís time when 2D was passé. Itís 3D capabilities were a bit of a space cadet (pun absolutely intended) compared to the PlayStation, rendering in squares, not the more industry standard triangles. Whilst this allowed better looking levels in FPS games for instance, it was awkward to develop cross-platform titles and hence its awkward hardware, along with itís high price meant that developers and consumers respectively opted for the PlayStation. The Saturn consequently lacked a variety of games and it faded away in 1997 and was discontinued in 1998 with only 10 million units to itís name.

NECís attempt to oust the NES in 1989 succeeded in Japan yet failed in north America, partly due to the fact of Nintendoís exclusive contracts. Itís graphics an sound were far superior with a 16-bit graphics chip but was 8-bit at heart and eventually spawned a CD release albeit with a limited library. The release of the Sega Mega Drive (Segaís only success) nailed away the Turbografx 16, a console of itís type simply release at the wrong time. Marketing was also an issue, only being advertised in big cities so those living in saloons in the desert were out of luck. Popular in Japan but less so in NA, it was discontinued in 1991 selling around 10 million units.

Audio, Video, 3DOÖHavenít heard of it? Thatís because you bought a PlayStation or an N64. It was in some aspects, the PS3 of itís day in terms of price, except itís 360 rival can do what the PS3 can in many parts, except watch Blu-rays. Released in 1993, it was top-class technology for the time and nothing would be mainstream like that until 2 years later. It was dubbed a home multimedia entertainment system, with the ability to play video and picture CDís, while having advanced 3D graphics which was a massive advantage over itís fellow 16-bit rivals. However, the console was way too expensive an had a limited library of titles while 3D0 were reluctant to lower the pricing until the end of itís cycle. It wasnít until the release of the PlayStation or the Saturn where a console could better it, and only sold 6 million.

An old friend, but Nokiaís attempt to try and revolutionise the crapness of JAVA gaming on phoneís failed. It was a typical smartphone, but was very awkward at times and didnít have instant game card swapping (the battery had to be removed first) while a camera was missing also. Whilst the N-gage QD corrected some problems it was still not good enough to rectify the faults, while it had a hefty price tag which was a lot more than the mainstream Game Boy Advance. With the Nintendo DS and PSP round the corner though, it seemed Nokia had released their N-gage too late. It was capable of 3D graphics, and was notably better than the GBA, but it was generally quite awkward to use, too expensive and was simply a nice idea executed badly. Really, you need Nintendo or Sony to build a phone around a good portable console, then an inexperienced Nokia to build a games console around a phone.

Youíve probably heard of it, and was similar in features to the N-gage but you couldnít make or receive voice calls. The Gizmondo looked the part from many features, from credible graphics power to the ability to watch movies or listen to music, plus GPRS internet and GPS. Two versions were available, one being significantly cheaper but the only problem was that it would show adverts every now and then when changing function. However, the Gizmondo was a rag-bag of idas which didnít seem to know what it was. Was it a games system? A media system? Who knos, but this console while having lots of potential, sold poorly and led to bankruptcy to Tigertel. To compete with Nintendo who have owned the portable market for over a decade and a Sony whoís PSP does most of itís things (a few less features though) you actually need to know what your console does. Throwing in ltos of features in the hope one works does not cut it.

Now weíre talking 1982 retro, and the Vectrex was unique in itís day for itís ability to display vector graphics. Just about every console utilised raster graphics, graphics made from the traditional square pixels to give an image, but were low resolution and would look rather pixelated when displayed because of this. The vectrex displayed its graphics using basic vector lines an shapes, and no matter how big the image was made, zoomed in, etc. the shape would not become horribly pixelated like raster grpahics, meaning the graphics would look high-quality on a screen. The Vectrex include its own monitor, and while the console was monochrome it used colour overlay effects, and had some unique peripherals including the light pen and 3D imager. Despite high-quality ports of arcade games (which used vector graphics at the time) it failed due to the 1983 video game crash, and was discontinued in 1984, but still has a fanbase with homebrew programs being made even today.

Released in late 1993, the Jaguar was dubbed the ďOnly 64-bitĒ system, although in reality the graphics werenít anything like the N64, also 64-bit, as it was really a 32-bit machine with 64-bit graphics processors. At itís time, it was a powerful yet cost-effective console and was significantly better than the mainstream SNES and Mega Drive. The console initially sold well, but had a poor selction of titles to choose from, with Tempest 2000 and Alien vs Predator itís hit titles, with ports of Wolfenstein 3D and Doom also available. One of the main reasons on why the Jaguar failed was itís difficulty to develop for, due to architectural bugs causing the system to crash, and hence the games library was pretty low, while the controllers were awful and could quite easily be mistaken for a calculator. Despite itís potential, it was yet another failed attempt by Atari and only sold 350,000 units. It seemed they just couldnít recover from the 1983 video game crash.

There you have it. Companies can make a console as original, unique or as advanced for its day as they can, but competition, poor marketing and high costs lead to a lack of sales and ultimately a lack of games in many aspects. It takes one company to set the standard, vanilla is the ice-cream standard, iPod is the MP3-player standard, PlayStation was the standard of itís day, and companies have built around it. It takes intense marketing to break the mold, and while these consoles havenít succeeded they certainly have influenced future generations. Companies like Nintendo know how to market though, with the DS and Wii being their most recent hits, and full of innovations.

List by BigCj34 (07/13/2007)

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