5 Failed Video Game Consoles That Were Actually Great Ideas [MUO Gaming]

Dave LeClair 08-01-2013

failed video game consolesOver the history of video games, there have been more consoles than most people think. People think about the dominance of Sega and Nintendo in the prime of video games, and of course the Atari Atari Arcade - Play Retro Video Games In HTML5 [MUO Gaming] Anyone who plays video games today owes a huge debt of gratitude to Atari and the founders and engineers who worked for the company during its formative years. Atari was responsible for many of the... Read More VCS (aka Atari 2600) before that. In the modern era, gamers think about Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo as the big three. Of course, this is true today, but back in the day, all kinds of odd systems hit the market, some of which were from the big companies, and for one reason or another, they just never seemed to catch on with gamers at the time.


It’s a shame really, because some of the consoles that launched and failed miserably were actually good ideas. Some failed because of poor execution, while others were executed well and just did not gain any steam with the gaming community as a whole. For one reason or another, each of these consoles had something going for it, even if it was not successful. In some cases, I feel bad for the companies as the console was well-made, in other cases, the companies need to be scorned for squandering a great idea.

Either way, the consoles that follow were all great ideas that just did not succeed in the competitive video game market.

Virtual Boy

failed video game consoles

Let me get this out of the way right now – the Virtual Boy is a flaming pile of garbage. However, it was an awesome idea. Nintendo’s initial announcement of a system where you place your face in the system and enter a virtual world was one of the most intriguing in video game history. Then we realized the system could only render the color red, and it caused more pain than fun while playing.

It’s too bad really; the Virtual Boy could have been awesome, but it was too far ahead of its time and the technology was not there to make a system like this. Nintendo discontinued it shortly after its release, and with good reason.


Neo Geo

failed video game systems

The Neo Geo was way ahead of its time. It was literally a whole console generation ahead of its competition in terms of hardware. It offered quality of graphics and gameplay that was on par with the arcades of the time, which was more than any other console could say. It also came with a price tag that was a little too close to that of an arcade machine as well.

It hit the US market at $649.99. To put that in perspective, the PS3 hit the market at $600 15 years later, and people complained that it was overpriced. The system was great, but it never had a chance at that price.


failed video game systems


The Dreamcast is, in my opinion, one of the best video game consoles ever released. It had graphics that were ahead of the competition, an amazing controller with cool visual memory cards, a sleek design, and some great games 6 Dreamcast Games That Stand The Test Of Time [MUO Gaming] In many ways the Dreamcast is the forgotten console in video games history. It didn't sell well, it didn't stick around long, and it never quite lived up to its early promise. However, those who... Read More . However, it failed so badly that it prompted Sega to leave the console market and move to being strictly a software company.

Perhaps consumers were burned by Sega’s odd strategy of releasing the 32X, Sega CD, and Saturn so close together. Either way, the Dreamcast is a system that did not deserve its fate, and it will always hold a special place in the hearts of gamers everywhere.


failed video game systems

I am going really old school on this one, but the Vectrex deserves to be mentioned. The Vectrex featured beautiful vector-based graphics that looked a lot better than the other video game consoles of the early 80s. It also featured an amazing arcade-like controller that allowed developers to create games that closely rivaled those of the arcades.


The sad thing is, the Vectrex didn’t mess anything up; it was simply a victim of timing. It launched right around the time of the great video game crash of 1983, and at that point, no new video game console could have succeeded. It lost Milton Bradley, the eventual owners of the device, tens of millions of dollars.

Game Boy Micro

failed video game consoles

The Game Boy Micro was not as much of a failure as some of the other consoles on the list, but it certainly was not a success. It’s unfortunate, because this was an awesome handheld console. It was built on the GameBoy Advanced platform, and Nintendo essentially led it to slaughter with the release of the DS. This thing is the epitome of handheld gaming.

It’s absolutely tiny, and is perfect for carrying around in your pocket. It also came with a better backlit screen than its predecessor, the GameBoy Advanced SP. It might be one of the best Nintendo handhelds in terms of portability, but it didn’t stand a chance going up against Nintendo’s own DS.



There are plenty of other failed video game consoles out there such as the CD-i, the 3DO, the Atari Jaguar, the Atari Linx, and the Sega 32X, but those consoles were most certainly not good ideas. The ones on this list were actually good consoles (except the Virtual Boy) they just had bad timing or poor execution that prevented them from succeeding. It’s too bad, but these failures have helped lead video games to where they are today, and that’s a good place.

Will there be new failures in the current generation? Is the Wii U 6 Gifts For Gamers On Your Holiday Shopping List [MUO Gaming] The holiday season is upon us. The hardcore gamer in your life is going to want some cool video game paraphernalia to go along with their hobby. There are plenty of cool things for gamers... Read More and PS Vita PlayStation Vita 3G/Wi-Fi Review And Giveaway Today, we'll be taking a look at the PlayStation Vita (specifically the 3G/Wi-Fi model), Sony’s latest entry into the portable gaming space. How will it hold up? Read the review to find out. Plus, we'll... Read More on a bad path? Only time will tell, but history has a way of repeating itself.

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  1. Tachyon
    October 29, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    Lot's of nostalgia here. Good list.
    Though it should probably include the Amiga CD32 as well.

  2. nawazmd
    January 18, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    i want see these games

  3. Aaron Sanchez
    January 15, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    I still can't believe the Dreamcast didn't fair better in it's day. Just a few years ago (college days) a friend and I bought a Sega DC and played burned games on it like Marvel vs. Capcom 2. We played for hours. Even eventually built our own arcade joystick and buttons console to go along with it. That system could play for hours and nothing ever went wrong. Maybe putting Windows CE on it wasn't the best idea in hindsight....

  4. Nick Robichaud
    January 10, 2013 at 10:58 am

    I have fond memories of the Vectrex I happened upon when I was 9 years old, around 11 years ago now. I vaguely remember playing pong on it. Back then it struck me as such a strange device as it had a wierd screen shape compared to the old 98' era computer/VGA monitor we had back then.

    Good times... I wish I still had that thing for nostalgia reasons.

  5. Junil Maharjan
    January 9, 2013 at 5:42 am

    Some of these devices were too ahead of their time and that started the whole tragedy.

  6. Márcio Guerra
    January 8, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    Nice one! Like I said somewhere a while ago, I've always been a pc player and never had a proper console, but played a bit in some friends places, but never tried any of these. I know some of them, like Dreamcast and the Gameboy Micro, the NeoGeo (recently, because only knew the games themselves at the arcades, and believe is the same company producing it) but not sure about the others, so, great article!


    Márcio Guerra

    • Dark Watcher
      January 9, 2013 at 1:12 am

      Nice article Dave...
      We would differentiate Game Boy Micro and Virtual Boy only because they were portable gaming devices as opposed to consoles. Respectable mentions are Turbografx-16 outside of Japan (poorly marketed), Sega CD (Too many grainy MPEG games and Sega's habit of dropping support), Pioneer Laseractive (Too dang expensive!)

      • Márcio Guerra
        January 9, 2013 at 3:18 am

        You reminded me of Sega CD, but it was based upon a Mega Drive, right? And I also remembered one, perhaps that one you mention by Pioneer, CDi, was it is name? What I remember most was a kind of a game that we would go from screen to screen, and, even being my mind tricking me, was pretty good, adventure style, «open a door, grab a map, find something in the room» that even today would have great graphics... Expensive, of course!


  7. Rafael Mariano
    January 8, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    wow... I can remember quite all of them... awesome melancolic memories LOL

    • Ahmed Khalil
      January 8, 2013 at 10:21 pm

      it is very old days no body use it today after xbox, and PC

  8. Richard Wesley Eby
    January 8, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    Dreamcast forever. My cousing and I were just talking about that system last night. We said how we don't understand how a console with such awesome graphics at the time could have ever failed. Its a real tragedy!