The World’s Biggest Tech Fails: Game Over

Sometimes technology fails. And sometimes it fails on a massive scale, leaving consumers upset and corporations having to clean up the mess or sweep it under the rug, in hopes that no one will remember it. This new column will look at the biggest failures in different industries, and one of the biggest industries today is the video game industry, currently making more money than the movie industry.
It’s an infant in comparison to other entertainment industries, having only been a major moneymaker for the past decade, but it certainly has had its fair shares of failures.

Game Over

Nintendo is a veritable giant in the gaming industry, and the name has become synonymous with video games in general. But back in the day they produced some ‘not so hot’ products.

The Sega CD and Dreamcast machines may have destroyed Sega as a company, but at least those machines worked. Ever heard of the Power Glove or Virtual Boy?
 Pictured: So bad.

The Power Glove was a new type of motion control in the late 80’s, early 90’s. It came out with huge expectations but was met with lukewarm reviews and sales. It was the first interactive peripheral of its kind, and was expected to bring in huge revenue for the company. There were only two games made for the Glove, with four others announced as “in development” but never made it to the market.

Consumers didn’t appreciate the poorly designed controls, and the lack of software made the manufacturer go bankrupt. Although Nintendo didn’t design the Power Glove, it was an officially licensed product and a black mark on the company.


The Virtual Boy also had the same hype and was touted as true 3D gaming. Although it did produce a 3D-esque image, it was not what we know as 3D today. The system featured a controller and a head mounted display that players looked into.


The games produced a depth of field not known in games before, but only used a wire frame graphic technology that left a lot to be desired. It even had an option to pause every 15 minutes, to let the player take a break and rest their eyes. This was important, as the technology had the bad side effect of actually hurting your eyes.

Safe to say the Virtual Boy didn’t do what Nintendo hoped they would do and it was discontinued.

Fast forward to present day, though, and Nintendo has turned their failures into major success stories. The Wii is the top gaming system for motion control and the 3DS is the best non-glasses-3D entertainment out there, selling out within the first day or so. Both of these technologies have put Nintendo into a prime position in the gaming industry, and has set Microsoft and Playstation scrambling.

Speaking of Microsoft, the Xbox 360 was released in 2005 and it generally delivered on the promises that Microsoft made. It continued their great first party game line-up and had a lot of third party software in the pipeline. But in 2006-2007 there were reports of failing systems and a “Red Ring of Death,” in which the power lights would turn red. Although Microsoft claimed that the failure rate was in the normal 3-5%, many reports suggested that the hardware had a one in six chance of failing.


Microsoft extended warranties and were very quick in dealing with the issue, but it caused plenty of problems for Microsoft and lost them a few advocates along the way.

Playstation did have its own problems with a “Yellow Light of Death” but it was far less frequent and not as widely publicized as its counterpart.

Regardless of these hiccups, the video game industry still generates more revenue than the film and music industry. Next week, we will take a look at some format wars, and a billion dollar corporation and its earlier failures.


Sequoia at 14 Jan 2012

Shiver me tmiebrs, them's some great information.

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