Top Games Consoles that Never Made it
Video games are extremely popular, and consoles are lucrative revenue streams for their creators. Nonetheless, there has been no shortage of duds or consoles that simply didn’t make the cut.
It isn’t an issue of poor software development that lies behind the poor reception of the machines – sometimes the hardware was bad, worked inefficiently, or the world just didn’t want them. Thankfully, many other consoles led the way and went on to huge success, so development jobs were not lost. In no particular order, here are the top consoles that never made it commercially.
Released in 1975, the Magnavox may be the very start of video gaming as we know it. While Atari is credited with creating the legend that is Pong, the game actually came from the Magnavox Odyssey. While Pong went on to be a huge success for Atari, the Odyssey remains in the shadows of public perception because no one bought it. This was largely because people mistakenly thought the console would only work on Magnavox televisions.
To try to win back the marketshare Atari took, Magnavox released the Odyssey 100 and 200, both of which were dedicated to variations of Pong. However, so basic was the technology that the software didn’t even keep track of the score, rather the user had to do it themselves with a slider on the hardware, much the same as the score charts used in snooker clubs.
Released in 1989, it’s hard to imagine why a console would be bad considering that the hugely successful Sega Mega Drive was released a year earlier. In fact, the Japanese version of the SuperGrafx was so huge it was more popular than the Nintendo NES. So why did it fail? In 1989 it’s hard to imagine anyone shelling out $300 ($540 in today’s money), especially when the games were $110 each (or $170 today), and only five games were made specifically for the console. That may not sound like much, but when they cost $110 a pop, one imagines that few users would buy more than one or two.
This 1995 release was Sega’s answer to the Nintendo Game Boy, and in some ways was better. Whereas the Game Boy played games made specially for it, and had only a black and white screen (that was so small and poor that people ended up buying the dedicated magnifying glass to improve the gaming experience), the Nomad could play actual Genesis games. So far so good, but the Nomad would last only about 90 minutes before running out of juice – with the juice being six – yes, six, AA batteries, and it froze up if you even thought of jogging it.
Yes, Sega makes it to this list twice, the second time being this 1994 release to boost the Genesis capabilities. The Genesis was a 16-bit machine, and the 32x was an add-on to increase its prowess, largely due to competition from the Nintendo SNES. It was too little, too late, as the Mega-CD had made consumers wary of such stop-gap efforts, and people instead waited for the Sega Saturn or went to Nintendo.
This 1993 effort from Panasonic was actually quite good – it looked and acted the part, with a 32-bit processor and many cutting edge technologies inside. The problem was the market was already over-saturated, so no one was interested, and this wasn’t helped by the ludicrous price of $599.
Unlike the other consoles mentioned here, the SNES CD never actually made it to market. It was rather Nintendo’s valiant effort to compete with Sega’s Mega-CD add-on and get involved in video games running off CDs rather than cartridges. Nintendo worked with Sony to develop the PlayStation, but by the 1992 the two companies had broken apart, and Nintendo went to Philips to produce the CD-i, an add-on to the SNES that was also never released.
We can only speculate on what the reception would have been, but the Sega Mega-CD didn’t do too well and it probably worked out for the best – Nintendo was instead able to refocus its efforts on the hugely successful N64 console.