Reviewing Portable Game Failures
By Justin Hall, Wed Jan 28 23:15:00 GMT 2004

As portable gaming converges with the mobile Internet, it's important to follow the history of handhelds. The failures of previous devices may illustrate the path that new convergence mobile entertainment appliances like the N-Gage or Tapwave might be traveling. This history of handheld failure is discussed in this article: "Top 10 Handhelds that Never Made it" from GameSpy.


The piece touches on historical handhelds, like early efforts at cartridge-based gaming in the 1980s from Milton-Bradley, and later attempts from Atari, Sega, Hasbro and South Korea. They've included the N-Gage as a failure already - demonstrating how maligned Nokia's initial game offering is in the gaming press.

Each of the ten handhelds discussed includes a bit of analysis from the GameSpy staffers - a good look at the mind of dedicated gamers considering what to put in their pockets. The most important criteria, unsurprisingly, appears to be the games. Good software makes a good system. But the number one failure was a software-rich favorite of mine, the Neo-Geo Pocket Color. That device just couldn't compete with Nintendo's GameBoy dominance.

Now with Sony soon launching a mobile gaming device (the PSP), and new mobile devices working with Microsoft's home media managers, we may see the portable space re-cast as a battlefield for the video game console wars. But as these various efforts shown, getting the right mix of playable, affordable and marketable in a portable is difficult, even for established companies.