Not every piece of video game hardware can be a home run, some end up being foul balls that go way up into the sky and then fall right into the metaphorical trash can of the games industry. Sports analogies aside, while some failures will forever be remembered like Nintendo’s ill-fated Virtual Boy, other failures have been lost in the sands of time. This editorial was hand-crafted in order to wash away said sands in hopes to bring to light three horrendous failures when it comes to video game hardware.
On September 1st, 1989, Americans were given the ultimate blessing of a video game handheld that had the nerve to go where no other video game handheld at the time had gone before. The Atari Lynx, hold the applause, was the very first video game handheld with a Color LCD screen, the second handheld to be released under the Atari name, and ultimately sold about 3 million units in its six year lifespan compared to the Game Boy’s one hundred million and beyond. In spite of its advancements both screen-wise and from a processing standpoint it was one of the last products Atari made with the very final nail in the coffin being the Atari Jaguar. Believe it or not but the Lynx did actually start off fairly well with 90% of its initial units sold in a month, but as time progressed sales slowed dramatically even after the Lynx II was introduced a few years later boasting better hardware, battery life, and an even lower price. Sadly, the Atari Lynx was overshadowed by the Game Boy tremendously although it was actually not that bad of a handheld. At the time it was reviewed well, especially when it came to its technical capabilities, but ultimately it did not have the same system-selling games as the Game Boy and it also lacked a strong marketing campaign even if the handheld did do some things Nintendidn’t.
Next up is a much more catastrophic failure with a one year lifetime from 1996 to 1997 with less than even half a million sold. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Apple Pippin (marketed as the PiPP!N as if that helped). The Pippin itself was not a specific console but rather an open platform Apple hoped to leave up to interpretation as long as it was held to specific standards and based on the Mac OS architecture. Two different versions of the Pippin were made: the Apple Bandai Pippin and the Katz Media KMP 2000. The former was created was the result of Bandai approaching the Pippin as a good starting place for a piece of video game hardware while the latter was an attempt to sell set-top boxes made for businesses and not to be sold in the retail market. Both of these attempts proved to be in vein as the Bandai Pippin was extremely unpopular in America due to the popularity of other video game consoles at the time paired with its enormous pricetag of $600 while the KMP 200 was stopped dead in its tracks after years of attempting to manufacture the device when Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 and ended production of any non-Apple made Mac products. This left Katz Media in a sore spot due to all the contracts it had signed with those they had supplied the units to, and the company eventually filed for bankruptcy in 1998 as they were unable to support their products.
Last to the party is a product forged in the fires of the most accursed volcano one could possibly concieve. Some know it as the eternal company killer that has haunted capitalism since its inception while others may know it by its mortal name, the uDraw GameTablet. In 2010 THQ released the uDraw GameTablet exclusively for the Wii as a device one could plug their Wiimote into in order to transform the device into a drawing tablet that could be used to play games or draw with on the Nintendo Wii. Not only could players draw using the device but using the accelerometers found in the Wiimote itself players could also move the tablet in order to play games. Only about eleven games were made playable for the tablet itself on the Wii and yet this is not when the device itself was deemed a failure. Instead, it was when THQ decided to branch out and release unique uDraw GameTablets for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. These devices crashed and burned and were only produced for about four months when THQ decided to abandon them altogether. Although the Wii’s younger market did buy into the tablet, PS3 and Xbox 360 owning teens did not see much use for it at all. It has been described as both a “disaster” and a “massive mistake” from high-ranking THQ officials and although the project itself was abandoned the 1.4 million unsold units still haunted THQ all the way to its declaration of bankrupcty in 2012.
Thus ends an editorial that will surely go down in the history books for its historical content and rich usage of sports analogies that Adeki could barely grasp. A real touchdown, indeed. Have you owned any of these pieces of hardware? Have you been the owner of a different piece of video game hardware that was in no way successful on the market? Do you have strong opinions one way or the other based on these devices? Whatever the case maybe, make sure to leave a comment below and let us know what you think!