Tiger Telematics' note
sole attempt at entering the lucrative handheld gaming market, and one of the more interesting failures in video game history
The handheld began with massive potential — unlike most of its competitors at the time (sans the N-Gage
), the Gizmondo supported real-time, fairly-good 3D graphics along with 2D sprites, and besides games it had the built-in ability to take pictures, send emails, and play movies. It even worked as a fully-functional GPS!
With all that backing it up, you're probably wondering "Why didn't this handheld sell like hotcakes?!" Well, the reasons are fivefold:
- The marketing was almost nonexistent — it was only available on their website, in the occasional strip mall, or from the Gizmondo shop in London's Regent Street (which apparently chewed up a ton of the parent company's money and contributed to their early demise).
- There were two versions released at the same time, with the main version having the attractive price of $400. While there was a budget "Smart Ads" version for about $230, the only difference was forcing you to sit through commercials while playing!note
- A screen the size of a cellphone.
- A positively pathetic battery life of 90 minutes when playing games!
- Speaking of games, there were only eight released in the US and none were well received by critics...although it did result in some rather quirky titles like Stickyballs and Momma Can I Mow the Lawn?
The Gizmondo was dead on arrival, selling an abysmal 25,000 units and becoming one of the worst-selling systems in video game history, handheld or console. It also forced the company that made it into bankruptcy. While a revival attempt was planned circa 2008, it was largely overshadowed by the fact that co-creator Stefan Erikson was involved in the Swedish Mafia
, has been arrested on drug and illegal firearm possession charges, and was later found on a crashed Ferrari after speeding against a Ford GT; all of that basically killed whatever chance the Gizmondo had left of making any kind of comeback.
On a side note, the handheld made the top of ScrewAttack
's "Top 10 Worst Video Game Busts" list.