The best-selling consoles get all the love. Everyone wants to know who has sold the most units and which gaming device has the most fans. But what about the lesser-selling consoles? Those who made mistakes, or maybe didn’t have the right branding strategies, falling behind their competition?
As history has proven with consoles like the GameCube, some lesser-selling competitors ended up developing a lot of followers and received a lot of praise in retrospectives, proving they were just rough diamonds, dug up an little too late. It’s proof that even the least-selling consoles have a story to tell.
9 1st generation: Atari Pong (around 150,000 units)
Everyone probably knows Pong. It was an arcade game that took the world by storm, energized the digital game market, and helped the Atari name take root in entertainment history. However, the home version of the game, also developed by Atari, did not perform so well. The console, called Home Pong, was successful, selling over 150,000 units.
However, Pong was actually a copy of a game that already existed on the Magnavox Odyssey called Table tennis. Atari was slapped with a lawsuit, damaging the company’s reputation and forcing them to pay royalties to Magnavox every time a Pong the game has been sold. Despite this (and the fact that the Odyessy surpassed all other 1st gen consoles), Atari’s Pong is still one of the most influential games of all time.
8 2nd generation: Fairchild Channel F (approx. 250,000 units)
The 2nd generation of the game took place from the late 1970s to early 1980s, leading to the industry crash in 83. At that time, Atari reigned supreme, until they completely destroyed the game. industry due to the release of too many rushed and poorly designed games, causing consumers to lose faith and interest in games.
But the real underdog was the Channel F, launched in 1976. It was the first console to use game cartridges, allowing a machine to play a variety of games. It was a technological breakthrough that allowed players to purchase a wide range of games, including sports, pinball, and even virtual gambling titles. However, once Atari launched the VCS / 2600, Fairchild was unable to compete.
7 3rd generation: Atari XEGS (around 100,000 units)
Atari’s cheap and ugly games were one of the main causes of the game’s crash of 83, creating a void in the industry, which SEGA and Nintendo gladly filled with their new consoles – the Nintendo Entertainment System and the SEGA Master System. However, Atari tried to hang on, releasing the XEGS.
The console was a redesign of Atari’s 65XE computer. This was impressive as it could be used as a computer or console, had backward compatibility for all 8-bit Atari games, and had a range of unique peripherals including a keyboard. Although the system hardly has any new games, it was impressive with its versatility. Sadly, that wasn’t enough to save Atari’s reputation.
6 4th generation: CD-I (570,000 units)
In the early 90s, the Console War was in full swing between Nintendo’s SNES and SEGA’s Genesis / Mega Drive. However, the decade has also produced tons of weird consoles that never stood a chance. Most notable was Phillip’s CD-I multimedia machine. The console contained disk encyclopedias, “entertainment” titles and, most notoriously, video games.
Due to a strange contractual dispute with Nintendo, Phillips was legally allowed to make his own video games based on Nintendo characters like Mario and Zelda. The games were ridiculous and hated, which makes them rare to find these days. They now go up to $ 6,000 on eBay, proving that even despised games can become coveted collectibles with a story to tell.
5 5th generation: Atari Jaguar (125,000 units)
Atari’s reputation never recovered after the game’s crash in the ’80s, and the 1993 Jaguar turned out to be their last entry into the console market, selling just 125,000 units. However, despite the low sales, the console was actually quite inventive. It combined two 32-bit chips to create a “64-bit” system, years before the N64 and the like.
Unfortunately, programming for the dual-chip system was a mess, so many companies simply refused to work with Atari. However, when done well, as with the much appreciated Alien vs. predator and Rayman games, the console has proven to be a worthy contender. Unfortunately, due to the reputation of the company, its true shine has only been known by a small number of players.
4 6th generation: SEGA Dreamcast (9.13 million units)
As the world entered the new millennium, the gaming industry became the most competitive it has ever been. Better technology led to better systems, and the arrival of the PS2 changed the game forever. “Fun” was no longer the only goal of the game. Now it needed cutting edge graphics, a cinematic soundtrack and large game worlds.
SEGA, in a desperate attempt to save itself after the disastrous 32X and Saturn releases, wanted to have the first 6th generation console on the market, launching the Dreamcast in 1999. Unfortunately, this gave all other companies time. to observe what worked and what did not, allowing them to build better consoles. In 2001, the Dreamcast was discontinued due to weak sales – the same year the GameCube and Xbox hit the market.
3 7th generation: Xbox 360 (24 million units)
By the 7th generation, gaming legends Atari and SEGA had been slain, leaving the console world to now consist of three behemoths: Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft. The competition was intense and all three 7th generation consoles – PS3, Wii, Xbox 360 – are considered absolute classics.
However, due to the overwhelming success of Nintendo’s new Wii console, Sony and Microsoft were forced to catch up. Yet the 360 is by no means a bad console. In fact, many argue it’s the best in the series, with epic exclusive games like Halo 3 and Weaponry of war being remarkable successes.
2 8th generation: Wii U (13.65 million units)
In just six years, Nintendo has gone from reigning supreme to struggling to stay relevant. The company released its Wii U console in 2012, leaving customers completely baffled. Was it an addition to the Wii? Was it just an improved version of the Wii until a new console came out? No one could really figure out what the Wii U was, which led to abysmal numbers and ultimately made it Nintendo’s best-selling console.
However, despite low sales, the Wii U’s game library was outstanding: Pikmin 3, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Mario kart 8, Bayonet 2, World of Super Mario 3D, and so many others. There were loads of critically acclaimed titles on the console, but no one to play them. To solve this problem, Nintendo has re-released many Wii U games for the Switch.
1 9th generation: to be determined
The 9th generation of games just started in 2020 with the PS5 and Xbox X / S. Indeed, the Nintendo Switch is actually included in the 8th generation because it was released only 5 years after the Wii U and did not bring any real improvement in graphics or gameplay. However, the Switch is quite versatile and is a marvel in its own right.
The two current competitors are both doing extremely well. The PlayStation is, as always, more sold than the Xbox. The PS5 has already sold over 10 million units and would easily sell more without the product shortages. But that doesn’t mean Xbox is in trouble. In fact, Microsoft has announced that the X / S is selling faster than any console in the company’s history. This has led some to view the 9th gen as the most recent war of gaming consoles.
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