For the most part, the gaming industry has always been dominated by a select few console manufacturers. While a couple of brave companies have tried disrupting the holy trinity of Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony, the public tends to stick with more popular, mainstream consoles. And it's hard to blame them, as many manufacturers' renegade efforts are remembered among the worst video game consoles of all time.
While a few failed video game consoles come from rookie manufacturers trying to gain a foothold in a highly lucrative market, even big names like Nintendo occasionally put out unforgivably bad hardware. Not every console lives up to the hype, while others simply seem to be knockoffs of existing products. For every successful console you remember fondly, twice as many exist that couldn't make the cut.
Originally planned as 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 at appealing to gamers and other consumers due to a poorly designed controller and intense competition from Sega, Sony, and Nintendo. The console featured a whole host of poorly made games, several of which gamers consider the worst titles ever released. The Philips CD-i was almost destined to fail, and cost the company around $1 billion.
The biggest selling point of the HyperScan: it was a video game console designed for young children. Released in 2006, Mattel marketed it as a great way for children to start gaming without risking exposure to the mature concepts seen in many popular titles. It was almost universally criticized by players and reviewers, though, for its poor design and lifeless software. Shortly after launch, the price for the hardware dropped considerably from its initial price of $69.99, as the manufacturer tried getting rid of its stock.
Back in 2003, Nokia correctly predicted 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 didn't function well as 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, even after several redesigns were released. In 2009, Nokia announced the N-Gage brand would permanently end the following year.
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 no other console had achieved. Unfortunately, most of the games for the machine were poorly received, so gamers remained wary from the outset.
The base LaserActive cost a whopping $1,000, with the control packs needed to play games running an additional $600 each. The SNES only cost $200, and didn't require extra hardware to play games, making it an easy choice for most gamers. The LaserActive was discontinued in 1996, while LaserDiscs themselves phased out in the early 2000s.