Nintendo's 7 Biggest Failures and What They Taught Us

From the Virtual Boy to the disastrous deal with Sony that led to the PlayStation – Nintendo has had a few big misses

GameBoy Micro (2005)
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GameBoy Micro (2005)

Released in September 2005, the final form of the 15-year-old GameBoy was a smaller version of the GameBoy Advance SP with a teeny 2 x 4.5 x 0.7 inch chassis and 2 inch backlit screen. Technically it was impressive, with a much brighter display and built in headphone socket, while the interchangeable faceplates were a fun nod toward mobile phone design. But launched at $99 against the technically superior Nintendo DS (which was only $30 more expensive), the improved machine didn't offer enough incentives to gamers who'd already bought tens of millions of GameBoy Advance handhelds. The device would go on to sell around 2.5m units – making it very much the runt of the GameBoy litter.

What we learned: In 2006 during a corporate briefing, then-president Satoru Iwata admitted that Nintendo needed to focus its marketing efforts on the DS rather than the Micro, robbing the device of much-needed publicity. He also acknowledged something interesting: that favorable hands-on reports of the system at the 2005 E3 event had encouraged Nintendo to be overly optimistic about its sales potential. "We have to be more careful about how we evaluate the impression of people who have actually touched and felt our products and who have watched some of our advertisements only." Sadly the lesson wasn't particularly well-learned, as the Wii U showed seven years later.

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