There have been a staggering number of gaming consoles released over the past four decades, and now that VR is a thing, that number will only continue to climb. Most gamers can list their top three consoles (Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, and Sega Dreamcast for me), but there is always a “what if?” slot reserved for a machine that sounded amazing in the rumor mill but never saw the light the day. The following seven consoles are essentially vaporware products that never made it to market, but are still devices that we’d kill to play today.
In 1991, virtual reality was nowhere close to what it is today, but the idea of Sega dropping a VR headset was still pretty exciting for everyone who had just spent a year playing the brand new Sega Genesis. The concept was first announced in ‘91 and the headset was supposed to go into development and production a few years later, but it never got that far. People were allegedly hurting themselves while testing the product because it was so realistic, so Sega nixed the project forever.
Sega had more consoles than you probably remember, but there was one that they couldn’t get off the ground. The Neptune was supposedly a combination Genesis and 32X, but Sega decided that releasing it would hurt the Saturn so it was cancelled.
Maybe the most legendary unreleased console of all time was a collaboration between Nintendo and Playstation from the early ‘90s. Also known as the SNES-CD or SuperDisc, the console featured a disc drive and a cartridge slot, and the controller looked like the familiar SNES gamepad but with “Sony Playstation” branding. Nintendo reportedly pulled out of the partnership when they realized they were getting the short end of the stick in terms of who would control the SNES-CD format. The system was more or less an internet myth until a working prototype surfaced on Reddit and YouTube in 2015.
Infinium Labs Phantom
In 2004, the company Infinium Labs planned to make an internet-connected console that was completely download-based and could play any PC game. The price point for the system was supposed to be below $399, and there was going to be monthly content fee of $9.95. After seeing demos and promotional material for the Phantom, fans were disappointed to learn that the console was never hitting shelves. It was revealed that Infinium Labs was facing financial issues, and the Securities and Exchange Commission accused the founder of Phantom Entertainment of running up shares and unloading hundreds of thousands of dollars in stock. The product never came to be.
In 1981, Atari was gearing up to release a handheld gaming system that sounded too good to be true. That’s because it was. The company promised 3D and holographic technology, but what they had were LEDs behind a transparent holographic image, and it was far from revolutionary. The company wisely shut the project down before the system could ruin their reputation.
As a follow up to the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer, The 3DO Company developed the M2 as a machine that could outperform the Sony Playstation and the Sega Saturn. 3DO was having cash problems so they sold the system to Panasonic for $100 million, but after years of teasing the public, Panasonic decided to pull the plug before taking it to mass production. There are a few prototypes floating around, but these unicorns carry hefty price tags.