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The 6 Worst Console Launches Of All Time

David Rothwell



Games console queue

We’re not saying consoles on this list are all bad, a bad launch isn’t everything. Systems can recover and yes there are some well… not so good ones. This list is all about the worst console launches of all time.

The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are now out and in your living room, if you were lucky enough to get one on pre-order. Every console generation has the hype around the new systems, heading to the crucial launch. Get it right and companies are off to a great start, but getting it wrong can set them back and even spell doom for the new system.

The rules

To make this list there has to have been a mishandled, botched, or underwhelming launch. Google Stadia isn’t included as it’s a streaming service and not a physical console.

In no particular order here are some of the worst console launches of all time.

1. Gizmondo

Released: 2005

Launch price: £230

Units sold: Under 25,000

This bizarre entry is the handheld console that crashed and burned faster than the company’s co-owner crashing a Ferrari. The handheld market is a nightmare to crack, with Nintendo slaying all the competition. So Tiger Telematics thought we can do this. The result a console that struggled to achieve double digits in games released. Its bestselling title was called Sticky Balls after all.

The system included text, GPS, and music storage capability. The problem, all these struggled to work even the GPS was useless.

The Gizmondo launched in 2005 and in twelve months Tiger Telematics went bankrupt in style. The company was £189M in debt. The system was a flop selling under an estimated 25,000 units. Stefan Eriksson one of the company’s co-owners legged it with previous convictions linking him to the Swedish Mafia.

Gizmondo reviewed badly on launch with Pocket-Lint’s Charlie Brewer giving it a two out of five saying “The body of the device looks good but nothing works properly besides the games, and even those were partly to blame for the device ‘crashing’ more than a dozen times”.

The Gizmondo was ahead of its time with smartphone abilities (except it couldn’t make calls). If a more reputable company had been behind this would it have made a difference? (Don’t mention the Nokia NGage).

2. GameCube

Released: 2001/02

Launch price: $199/£129

Units sold: 21.75M

The N64 marked the first time that Nintendo was no longer the industry leader. Refusing to use discs Nintendo lost the support of developers such as Squaresoft. Final Fantasy VII jumping to Sony’s PlayStation. The N64’s successor the GameCube didn’t exactly have the best start either.

A big issue was the lack of games. On launch in Japan, there was a whopping, wait for it, 3 games to choose from. Luigi’s Mansion, Wave Race Blue Storm, and Super Monkey Ball, that was it. Mario was missing, as the SNES and N64 both featured the much-loved plumber in Super Mario World and Super Mario 64. The US and Europe had more titles at launch including Star Wars Rogue Leader. I remember playing the Death Star Trench level over and over at a Toys “R” Us until the staff asked me to stop (It was that good).

The GameCube was the first Nintendo console to use discs. Unlike the PlayStation 2 and Xbox these were smaller discs instead of the popular DVD format. The only exception was a Panasonic version in Japan that could also play DVDs. If you wanted a console and DVD player it’s safe to say you likely bought the PS2.

Nintendo slashed the price weeks before the European launch. The BBC reported, “Nintendo has announced a price cut for its GameCube console in Europe almost two weeks before it is even launched. The machine was expected to sell for about £150 when released to shops on 3 May but the company has set a new price of 199 euros (£129).”

The GameCube finished third in the generation selling around 21M units worldwide.

There was also an image problem as Nintendo had the reputation of being for younger kids. The purple design with a handle on the back gave it the nickname of the lunchbox. I remember some kids in school mocked those who owned a GameCube.

The GameCube featured Nintendo’s first mature-rated game in Eternal Darkness and the much-acclaimed Resident Evil Remake. Those high school bullies didn’t have a clue what they were talking about (as usual). The GameCube was a great system, underappreciated during its life cycle. The games today often sell for a much higher price when compared to the PS2.

3. Atari Jaguar

Released: 1993/94

Launch price: $249.99/£299.99

Units sold: 250,000

Launched under the slogan of “Do the Math” to show the Jaguar was a stronger 64 bit system (Remember when bits were a major selling point?) The trouble was the commercials treated gamers like idiots. The most prominent one featuring a sadistic school teacher yelling at people about the console is still on YouTube to watch and cringe at.

The other issues were a system that was difficult to develop games for seeing only 67 games released. The controller is possibly one of the ugliest known to mankind. Digital Spy dubbed it something “which looked like what E.T. would use to phone home with.”

The Nintendo GameCube had three games available on launch. The Jaguar went one worse featuring only two games for its North American test launch in New York and San Francisco. Cybermorph and Trevor McFur in the Crescent Galaxy (I’m not even making that name up) were the only choices.

Games on the Jaguar for the most part didn’t look much better than SNES or Mega Drive offerings. The Jaguar limped on before being discontinued in 1996.

The shell of the console found use in later life to store dental equipment. The unreleased infamous Coleco Chameleon would also use the mould for its shells.

4. Sega Saturn

Released – 1995

Launch price: $399/£399

Units sold: 9.26M

Oh boy, where to start on this one. SEGA in the mid-1990s didn’t capitalise on the success of the Mega Drive. Two expensive add-ons the Mega CD and the 32X, the latter often compared to a tumour undersold. Gamers were getting fed up with buying new short lived SEGA hardware.

The Sega Saturn’s North American launch is infamous for how not to launch a console. It was pencilled for a September 1995 launch so developers and retailers alike were working to that timetable.

At E3 1995 SEGA’s American Ceo Tom Kalinske took to the stage and announced the Saturn was available to buy now for $399. The move was due to pressure and competition from Sony’s upcoming PlayStation. The move backfired! PlayStation Head of Development Steve Race walked to the stage during Sony’s press conference and said “$299” then walked away. Sony had undercut the competition by $100.

The fallout led to limited stock with angry retailers unaware of launch date change. Some would later refuse to stock the Saturn in protest. If things couldn’t get worse, well they did the third party developers were outraged their development cycles were ruined. Many developers jumped ship to the PlayStation.

The Saturn went on to become a footnote in the generation selling over 9.2 million units. The original PlayStation would outsell the Saturn more than ten times over. The Dreamcast had a better launch, but by then SEGA had reached the point of no return. SEGA would quit the console manufacturing business in March 2001.

5. Xbox One

Released: 2013

Launch price: $499/£429

Units sold: 46.9M (Estimated)

It only took the unveiling of the Xbox One at E3 2013 to cause outrage and anger online. In a recent interview, the Head of Xbox Phil Spencer said “Microsoft was considering abandoning the console space after the 2013 launch of the Xbox One”. The response and sales were that bad.

So what did Microsoft get so wrong?

In the worst E3 presentation since the SEGA Saturn, Microsoft announced a string of features that got people angry. The system would need a persistent internet connection (checked every 24 hours) to play games, lose your connection, and no gaming for you.

The Xbox One would come bundled with the Kinect sensor that ramped up the price to £500, £100 more than Sony’s PS4.

The nuclear policy, killing used games meaning they wouldn’t work on another console. You wouldn’t even be able to borrow a game from a friend.

The negative backlash was so strong that Microsoft issued a complete U-turn in June 2013.

The damage from the launch was so great that the PS4 would get an early lead in sales. Microsoft later stopped publishing Xbox One sales figures; Forbes estimates a total of 46.9M Xbox One consoles have been sold. In comparison, the PS4 would surpass over 100M units sold.

Microsoft did the correct course and the Xbox One is a great system. Yet it’s clear due to the train wreck of a launch that the PS4 takes the crown in the last console generation.

6. PS3

Released: 2006/07

Launch price: $599/£425

Units sold: 87.4M

The PlayStation 2 ruled the 6th generation selling more units than the Gamecube, Dreamcast, and the Xbox combined. It was untouchable! So how did Sony capitalise on this for the PlayStation 3? Well, they didn’t. The launch line-up was small, the commercials were weird and the price was expensive for the time. On top of that, the PlayStation 3 logo borrowed the Spider-man movie font and the original controller concept never made it to market. It was a too greater departure from the much loved Dualshock series.

The UK launch price was £425 and to date is the only console I’ve ever pre-ordered at launch. The three-game bundle set me back £525 a lot of money to my 18-year-old self. The Six Axis motion controls felt like a gimmick built in after the Wii’s success. Motorstorm one of the launch games was near unplayable with the motion controls turned on. I opted for the traditional analogue controls instead.

The Guardian’s Steve Boxer wasn’t impressed with the high price point stating “Hard done-by UK gamers were understandably unhappy at a price that compares unfavourably, to say the least, with US and Japanese prices of $599.99 and ¥60,000”

The 7th Generation of consoles had a high failure rate. The Xbox 360’s infamous red ring of death and the PS3 seemed to have issues too. My launch console bit the dust in 2010 caused by an overheating problem. The slim models also had problems; my brother went through two of them. A broken disc drive and a failing hard drive were to blame.

The PS3 was successful, but a marketing campaign in weird settings with the slogan “This is Living” didn’t do any favours. Most variations are still on YouTube so you can see for yourself how weird Sony’s marketing was at the time.

The verdict

These consoles had less than ideal launches and in two cases would lead to the end of console production for Atari and the start of SEGA’s decline. The Xbox 360 and Wii U were also considered for this list, yet both featured more substantial failings in business and technical decisions in addition to launches. (We could write an essay on them alone)

And that’s our list of the worst console launches of all time, did we miss any? Do you agree with the order? Leave your thoughts in the comment box below.

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Gaming News

7 Xbox Games To Be Excited About

Polly Drumm



Halo Infinite image
Xbox Game Studios

Here’s your guide to 2021’s most anticipated Xbox games. Games ranging from horror to survival and first-person shooters to be excited about on Xbox.

With the PlayStation 5 hitting stores in November 2020, Xbox released their advanced console, Series X and there are plenty of games to get excited about. With its updated, sleek new design, the X console allows high definition experiences. Having the ability to produce up to 120 frames ps, 8K HDR and Velocity architecture. It’s faster, superior and more powerful than any previous design. Alongside word of series X, Xbox has announced exciting, challenging and captivating games. But new releases are worth your time and money? We take a look.

1. 12 minutes

Featuring the voices of Daisy Ridley, James McAvoy and Willem Dafoe, 12 minutes is set in the apartment of a married couple. We focus on the husband and his ability to overcome a range of different obstacles.

Publisher Annapurna Interactive has gone with a retro click-to-step player mode. All to simulate organic transitions throughout the emotionally difficult yet enticing distortion of time. This unique and underrated style of gameplay allows for an encompassing experience. One that radiates emotional and practical outcomes over combat style games. And permits for an enjoyable break from more well-known survival and RPG games. With the release date yet to be announced, 12 Minutes, has the potential to become one of 2021’s most waited on games yet.

2. Psychonauts 2

The long-awaited sequel of the 2005 original game Psychonauts is finally launching. But is looking as if it will be closer to the end of 2021. With its obscure character style, humorous scripting, and easily playable combat and navigational skills. It’s understandable why fans have donated $3.8 billion to its development. Picking up from the original plotline, the sequel will follow Raz on his journey with the Titular team, overcoming new styles of combat, dangers and threats.

Set in the 1980s, Raz achieves his dream of reaching Psychonauts headquarter, helping the psychic spies with their missions. This multiplatform game has been long-awaited. It has the potential to not only bring you back to a childhood classic but launch you into a world of thrilling new adventures.

3. Hitman 3

With the official tagline for the release of Hitman 3 being ” A dramatic conclusion to the world of assignation trilogy” there are high expectations of the game.

But with both previous Hitman games being the quality and experience they are, there’s little doubt that the third game will be anything less than an amazing and surreal escapade.

This multiplatform game incorporates all the best locations and characters from the previous two games (as long as you already own them). As well as exotic new locations from around the world.

With the ability to play with VR headsets, this advanced version of the Hitman trilogy has the prospective to be the best of the three. With IO interactive releasing a limited description of the plotline, there is lots to hope for with this stealth game launched in late January 2021.

4. Chernobylite

With no official release date, Chernobylite looks like one of 2021’s most gripping survival games to come. Playing as a scientist from the 1986 catastrophe, this science-fiction game follows the conspiracy’s surrounding the danger zone of the aftermath of the nuclear explosion at Chernobyl.

The multiplatform game allows for free exploration of the map, challenging combat situations with various villains and an intertwining plotline. With the developer being that of “Get even” and “NecroVisioN” Farm 51 is known for the enticing, sombre visual graphics that enhance gameplay.

Delving into a profound personal story, with intense character and graphics, Chernobylite is a game that, by the seems of it, will keep you interested for hours on end.

5. Chorus

Benefiting from the impressive power the Xbox series X can be seen to have, the adventure game Chorus utilises amazing graphics, with 60 frames per second, as well as acute detail to lighting and terrain.

Optimised for the new console, this game follows cult member Nora and her mission to defeat her evil creators.

Despite sounding like a game set in ancient times with cults, Chorus focuses on a futuristic world with AI technology, space battles and a thrilling next-level plotline. aiming to send this style of game into the future, Chorus is rumoured to experiment with the powers of mental abilities as well as physical skills.

Developed for the new series X, Chorus can be found on multiple platforms. With such a strong and alluring plot, we can only hope that the release date is sometime soon.

6. Resident Evil: Village

With the eighth game in the series being announced, Resident Evil: Village, follows suit from game 7, Biohazard. Using reliable old characters as well as introducing new villains, heroes and locations.

With ultra-realistic graphics powered by the RE engine, we get a more advanced class of weaponry, combat styles and resources to use throughout the rescue and side missions. This classic style of jump-scare horror embodies the original games whilst allows adapting to modern technologies and demands.

Launching in May, this game can be found on nearly all platforms. But will be enhanced with the usage of Xbox’s new powerful console, ideal for such horror games.

7. Halo Infinite

Creative Director Joseph Staten stated, “this was the Halo we imagined back in 2000, finally coming to life, after 20 years of technical and creative innovation”.

Exclusive to Xbox consoles and other Microsoft devices this is one of the biggest games to be excited about. Halo Infinite has been adapted especially for the new Xbox series X for the best playable experience, flawless visuals and rapid load times.

Reusing original artwork to simulate older versions of the game and the reappearance of a more humanistic Master Chief, Halo Infinite will be a throwback of nostalgia for many fans.

But, graphics should be better than ever. With improved illustrations on global illumination, ambient occlusion and shadowing. All for better atmospheric quality and advancement in craftsmanship of lighting, weaponry and adjustments to terrain visibility.

Halo Infinite should be a next-level, first-person shooter game, with immense and microscopic detail throughout the playable world.

And that’s our list of seven Xbox games to be excited about this year. Which one are you looking forward to most of all? Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments section below.

Read about the worst console launches of all time HERE.

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