For the most part, the gaming industry has always been dominated by a select few console manufacturers. While a couple brave companies have tried to crack the Holy Trinity that is Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony, the public tends to stick with more popular, mainstream consoles. It's hard to blame them, as some console manufacturers' renegade efforts are remembered among the worst video game consoles of all time.
While some failed video game consoles come from rookie manufacturers who are trying to gain a foothold in a highly lucrative market, even big names like Nintendo occasionally put out unforgivably bad hardware. Some consoles were unable to live up to the hype they had generated, whereas others seemed out to make a quick buck, and ended up feeling like knockoffs of products that already existed. For every successful console you remember, there are twice as many that couldn't make the cut.
The biggest selling point of the HyperScan was that it was a video game console designed for young children. Released in 2006, Mattel marketed it as a great way for younglings to be introduced to gaming without risking exposure to the mature concepts seen in many popular titles. It was almost universally criticized by players and reviewers for its poor design and lifeless software. Just a few months after launch, the price for the hardware had dropped from $69.99 to just $9.99 as the manufacturer tried to get rid of its stock.
Originally planned to be a CD add-on for the SNES, the collaboration between Nintendo and Philips led to the standalone release of the CD-i in 1991. Marketed as a home entertainment system — rather than a video game console — it failed to appeal to gamers and other consumers, due to a poorly designed controller and intense competition from Sega, Sony, and Nintendo. The console was home to a whole host of poorly made games, some of which are considered the worst titles ever released. The Philips CD-i was almost destined to fail, and cost the company somewhere around $1 billion.
Way back in 2003, Nokia correctly predicted that a huge portion of the gaming industry would move to mobile phones. Hoping to lure players away from their Game Boys, the company tried to combine a handheld gaming device with a mobile phone, and ended up with a product that wasn't really good at being either. The N-Gage's large, clunky design made it difficult to use as a phone, while the numbered buttons were ill-suited for playing games. When combined with a lack of high-quality titles, the Nokia device failed to entice the public, and the original N-Gage was discontinued in 2005. While Nokia gave it another shot with the N-Gage 2.0 in 2007, the redesigned system still felt behind the times, and the N-Gage brand was permanently scrapped in 2009.
The LaserActive was Pioneer’s attempt to revolutionize gaming. The 1993 machine played exclusively LaserDiscs, which allowed it to combine animated graphics with high-quality, live-action video in a way that no other console had achieved. Unfortunately, most of the games for the machine were poorly received, so gamers were wary from the get-go. Additionally, the base LaserActive cost a whopping $1,000, with the control packs needed to play games costing an additional $600 each. The SNES only cost $200, and didn't require extra hardware to play games, so for most gamers, it was an easy choice. The LaserActive was discontinued in 1996, with LaserDiscs themselves being phased out in the early 2000s.