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The Real Reason The Sega Game Gear Was A Failure

For every video game console that becomes a massive success, there are plenty of consoles that are catastrophic failures. Even some solid devices just make a dent with gamers. Case in point: the Sega Game Gear.

The Game Gear was touted as a portable alternative to the massively successful Sega Genesis/Mega Drive. But while Nintendo's Game Boy, with its fantastic game library and weird accessories, skyrocketed to success in the 1990s, the Game Gear did not catch on. Not too long after discontinuing the system, Sega got out of the console-making business altogether, opting instead to make video games for the companies it used to compete with. For fans of overlooked systems such as the Game Gear, this move didn't quite make sense. As noted by outlets such as Mel Magazine, the Game Gear's image quality far outclassed the Game Boy's. So why did it fail?

The real reason the Game Gear failed

According to author Kenneth Horowitz, the Game Gear's failure had nothing to do with the device itself, but rather was thanks to Sega's mismanagement regarding multiple console and accessory releases that fell flat, including the Sega CD and Sega Saturn. Horowitz explained (per Mel Magazine), "I don't think the Game Gear was discontinued because Sega realized that they'd lost to Nintendo. It was because Sega was having economic problems and they were cutting fat." Ultimately, the Game Gear got the raw end of that deal.

There were plenty of other possible reasons for the Game Gear's failure, however. Its bulky design has also been a dealbreaker. As noted by gamers on Reddit, the device was quite heavy, to the point where fans are still looking for ways to reduce its heft. When it comes to handhelds, convenience is key.  Since it couldn't be easily kept in one's pocket, the Game Gear wasn't nearly as convenient as the much smaller Game Boy.

But those weren't the console's only issues. In a 2002 thread on Ars Technica, a number of former players aired out their own Game Gear grievances. One user cited the short battery life as a big reason for the console's failure. Another, the lack of games available to play. Still, many users cited the large design as the primary reason why they didn't enjoy playing it.