The 10 Worst-Selling Consoles of All Time
- May 04, 2007 00:00 AM PT
The majority of gaming consoles have taken the big dirt nap and only see the light of day at pawn shops and e-bay. Here's our list of top console failures.
Be it a lack of games, poor strategy, or inadequate marketing, a majority of video game consoles are commercial failures. Here are the 10 worst selling consoles of all time in terms of high-profile systems that stood a viable chance. Other lesser-known consoles are sure to have sold worse, but the below represent the notable platforms that never met expectations.
Released in the fall of 1998 in Japan and a year later in the US, the Dreamcast was Sega's fifth and final video game system. The much beloved console launched years ahead of the competition but ultimately struggled to shed the negative reputation it had gained during the Saturn, Sega 32X, and Sega CD days. As a result, casual gamers and jaded third-party developers doubted Sega's ability to deliver. Despite a much celebrated game library, the Dreamcast only sold 10.6 million units during its short, three-year lifespan.
Key games: Soul Calibur, Seaman, Crazy Taxi
The TurboGrafx-16 was released in 1989 in North America and was largely considered a success in Japan. But the console never caught on in the US for two reasons: 1) Nintendo's anti-competitive (now illegal) practices prevented Japanese developers from making games for both the TG16 and NES; and 2) poor localization. NEC successfully promoted the system in Japan using advertising in big cities only. When a similar strategy was implemented in the much larger and more diverse North America, a lack of public awareness resulted in smaller communities leaving NEC unable to compete. By 1991, the TurboGrafx-16 was all but dead and would go on to sell a total of 10 million units worldwide with only 2.5 million sold in the States.
Key games: Bonk's Adventure, Splatterhouse
The Sega Saturn was released in the US several months before the PlayStation in 1995, but like the Dreamcast that would later follow, it failed to last more than 3 years on the market. The console's high $399 price put the sting on gamer wallets, and a complex multi-processor hardware architecture hindered game development leaving Saturn with relatively few good games. As a result, the more technogically forgiving PlayStation enjoyed a high influx of games to become the clear best-selling system of that generation. The "stillborn" Saturn would sell only 9.5 million units worldwide.
Key games: NIGHTS, Virtua Fighter, Daytona USA
7. Sega CD
Compact Disc was all the rage in the early 90s when Sega released their first Genesis add-on that played 16-bit full-motion video games. The problem was threefold: the device was expensive at $299, it arrived late in the 16-bit life cycle, and it didn't do much (if anything) to enhance the gameplay experience. Granted, the attachment delivered the greatest Sonic game of all time (Sonic CD), but everything else under whelmed and the system sold only 6 million units in its short-lived life. Worse still, Sega CD marked the first of several Sega systems that saw very poor support; something that devalued the once-popular Sega brand in the eyes of consumers, and something that would ultimately lead to the company's demise as a hardware maker.
Key games: Sonic CD, Night Trap, Earthworm Jim
The 3DO Interactive Multiplayer was the first legitimate 32-bit console to hit retail. Engineered by EA founder Trip Hawkins, the system was released in September 1993 by Panasonic. Despite its highly promoted launch, unprecedented power, and attractive development terms, the machine flopped because 3DO was unable to convince consumers to pay an exorbitant $700 price tag (and you thought the PS3 was expensive!). Interestingly enough, the 3DO was one of the first machines to be marketed as a "high-end audio-visual system" in addition to being a game console. Add that to the over-saturated console market of the mid-90s, and the EA-backed system would sell little more than 2 million units (note: the Wikipedia entry claims 6 million, a figure we couldn't verify).
Key games: Road Rash, The Horde