Worst Business Ideas in History: Atari Jaguar

In this episode of Worst Business Ideas in History, the hosts break down what went wrong with the release of the Atari Jaguar and what a disappointment it was to its target audience, mainly teenagers.

This product essentially killed Atari as a corporation, as it leveraged its console to bait and switch the audience with false claims that the product was better than those of its competitive counterparts.

Click play for more.

Transcript:

Derek (00:00):

Atari failed to provide a good customer experience.

Dusey (00:03):

And failed to support their partners.

Derek (00:05):

They made a product that didn't fill any need.

Dusey (00:07):

And that was bereft of unique offerings.

Derek (00:09):

They effectively engaged in a bait and switch marketing strategy.

Dusey (00:12):

Which destroyed any hope of good word of mouth.

Derek (00:15):

And that's why Atari Jaguar was the worst business idea in history.

Derek (00:25):

All right, welcome to Worst Business Ideas in History. I'm Derek Harju.

Dusey (00:28):

This is Dusey van Dusen.

Derek (00:30):

And today we're talking about something that I'm super excited about, I feel like Dusey is probably excited about, and that is video games. So what video game are we talking about today?

Dusey (00:40):

Well, not one specific game, but a system, a console that maybe you guys, depending on how into video games you who are, maybe you've heard of, maybe you haven't, but I'm going to leave that hanging in the air, you all wondering what we're about to talk about for one moment, just for a programming note. Because you are probably hearing this saying, "This does not sound like a normal episode of Small Biz Buzz, this sounds like the part in the middle of all of our other episodes." So we're going to try splitting these out, give these a little bit more breathing room. So you'll see these kind of pop into your feed occasionally. And hopefully we have some more room to analyze what's going on with some of these worst business ideas in history, as well as not having to break up the interviews. So on that programming note, do you want to reveal, everybody is on pins and needles waiting to hear what we were talking about?

Derek (01:30):

Yeah. I'm going to make it worse. Yeah, thank you for doing the actual work, Dusey, instead of just launching into this. And by the way, it's definitely showing the fact that I'm in my forties now because I'm referring to consoles as video games.

Dusey (01:44):

I was like, "Oh, he's got a twist intro for us, it's not a video game at all."

Derek (01:51):

Yes. So today we're talking about the Atari Jaguar, one of the more maligned video consoles to ever be created. So Dusey, did you ever actually own an Atari Jaguar? Because we're about the same age and I know that the Jaguar came out when I was just entering college, I think.

Dusey (02:12):

Yeah, no, I didn't. It would have been ripe time for me to do that, this is probably the time in my life and I was kind of most heavily into video games. But for whatever reason, the Jaguar just never really made it onto my radar, I never had any other Atari system in my house. The earliest video game console we had was a Colecovision. So that was fun.

Derek (02:36):

Oh, lucky for you. No, no, no. I was always jealous of people that had a Colecovision. I only ever saw one in real life.

Dusey (02:42):

Gotcha. Yeah. So, we had the Colecovision first and then NES and we were kind of a Nintendo family for a long time after that. I had to go over to my friend's house to play Genesis games for a while. I think we eventually picked one up some years after they were out. But yeah.

Dusey (02:58):

So yeah, the Atari was something that I more heard after the fact I heard about it and heard people talking about it once it was not readily available. And it was not easy to find in the United States anymore.

Derek (03:12):

Yeah, because they just stopped making them. I remember there was a period when you could go into a KB Toys, and we'll probably do an episode on that at some point. So if you're of the age where you're not familiar with KB Toys, it was a toy store, but unlike Toys R Us, it wasn't a free standing building, they existed in the malls. And KB toys, they were fairly small if you wanted to go there and get like action figures or whatever, it was a tiny toy store in the mall, they were fun. But one thing they were really good for is they had a section out front where they would put video games that weren't selling well, and you could get them for like next to nothing. I remember I got Streets of Rage once for $9. But I remember towards the end they had whole Atari Jaguar consoles out there for $30.

Dusey (04:03):

Wow. And the thing is, we'll get into it more now, but like that feels like, wow, at that price, like I would expect previous gen kind of graphics and by the time it was $30, even though it was capable of a lot more, it probably was previous gen graphics on that $30-random console. Yeah. That feels like the sort of thing that a kid gets for Christmas or birthday from a grandparent that doesn't quite understand what they're asking for. Right. Like, "Oh, the Jaguar. Okay."

Dusey (04:37):

"Yeah. It was only $30."

Derek (04:42):

And this is probably a good time to lean into, because, at the time, the same time the Jaguar came out, the PlayStation had been out for a little while and was doing really well. And the Sega Saturn was also coming out. And if you don't remember, there was a big bit war among video game consoles.

Dusey (05:05):

Boy, I'll tell you what. For my birthday, I got a pre-order slip for the Nintendo 64. So I know all about the bit wars. That was... Yeah.

Derek (05:17):

Which was a good call if you owned the... The Super Nintendo and the Genesis were kind of on par with each other, once it went to N64, like the market gets so spread out because Nintendo was just... Nintendo and Sony were ruling the roost. Sega was in kind of dire straights, not doing super great. But basically the idea was a Nintendo and the Sega Master system where 8 bit, then came the super NES and the Genesis, which were 16 bit. And they were constantly talking about what one console could do and the other couldn't, like the, "Genesis does what Nintendon't," ad campaign. And then after came the Sega Saturn and they were like, "The Saturn's got 32..." Or no, no, no, I'm sorry. I'm jumping one, aren't I? Which came, it was the Saturn and then the Dreamcast?

Dusey (06:05):

Yeah. It was the Saturn and then the Dreamcast. Yeah. So it was the Saturn with 32 bits, PlayStation with 32 bits and then out of nowhere is the Jaguar saying, "This is a 64 bit system." Right?

Derek (06:16):

Right.

Dusey (06:17):

And looking back on it, comparing a 64 bit system like the Nintendo 64 to the Jaguar "64 bit system," was night and day. And this was a time of unprecedented competition in the console market.

Derek (06:32):

Oh God yes.

Dusey (06:33):

There's 3DO, Jaguar, of course the entries from Nintendo and Sega, now we've got Sony PlayStation. I remember I heard about it first at some game store and I only heard the name and I go, "That sounds like it's for kids." And that's all I knew of the PlayStation. It turns out that it ended up being the platform that allowed more edgier content and stuff like that compared to the Nintendo. Right?

Derek (06:56):

That's, that's accurate. If you wanted blood, you had to go with either Sony or Sega because Nintendo was still... Nintendo has always been the Disney of video games, which is to say that they're like, "We have our IP, we've got Mario, we got Metroid, we got Link. And every time you buy a console we're going to provide you with Mario, Metroid and link. They're going to be fun for the whole family, there's not going to be any weird... Like you can't buy twisted metal on this console, you can't buy Mortal Kombat with the blood pack inserted."

Dusey (07:29):

Kids want the Sega Mortal Kombat with the blood, parents want SNES Mortal Kombat without the blood. Absolutely.

Derek (07:35):

Yes. And you had pointed out that the Jaguar was a 64 bit console and so you expected it to have vastly superior graphics.

Dusey (07:48):

Yeah. They're competing against, at the time of their development, 16 bit consoles. And I think it may have even been... I'm not exactly sure when all the releases happened, but I think it was out before several of the other 32 bit consoles. Right? So people are expecting this jump from their 16 bit systems to 64. That should be four times better graphics. If I'm doing my math and they told me in their commercials, "Do the math," as they threw that 64 bit number around. I've done it, it's four times better. Right?

Derek (08:19):

And those are, if you want a fun rabbit hole and you're over the age of 30, just do a search for Atari Jaguar commercials. You will see the most '90s, 9delicious commercials you've ever seen. Like, if you want a case study of what the 1990s were, look up video game commercials for...

Dusey (08:42):

You've just coined my new favorite word, "9delicious."

Derek (08:45):

9delicious. Yeah.

Dusey (08:49):

Oh, that's fantastic.

Derek (08:50):

So yeah, they were still competing against things like the Genesis. They were still making new games for the Genesis, which was 16 bit, they were still making new games for the Super NES. PlayStation was starting to earn market share and then things would come out like the 32X for the Genesis that you just like plugged this other console on top of your existing console. And so you're like, "Oh, 64 bits, they're just leapfrogging over everybody." Well then there was some problems with that number.

Dusey (09:21):

Yeah. I've familiarized myself a little bit with some of these. So tell me where I get this wrong, but it sounds like, I think there were three main chips and between them they split up kind of five processing jobs. And a there's one chip that was kind of the general manager that didn't do a lot of stuff that would kind of direct and say, "Oh, this is stuff that goes over to the audio processing chip. And this is stuff that goes over to the main processor." And those two chips, the audio processing chip, and the main processor were both 32 bit, that "general manager processor" is also 32 bit, but there are some 64 bit like handling and pass off, and I'm not a programmer, but it's not that there wasn't 64 bit stuff in there, but I believe the quote was, "Where it needs to be 64 bit, it is, and where it doesn't need to be 64 bit, it's not. It's 32 bit."

Derek (10:13):

Yeah. And yeah, that was the thing. They were doing this kind of very suspicious math getting to 64 bit because it was technically multiple 32 bit chips, like you said, and they just decided that it was 64 and, really, nobody called them on it at the time. Unless you were reading trade manuals, you didn't know. And if you were listening to the marketing, you were like, "Oh my gosh, this thing is insane. It's going to blow everything out of the water." And if you watch the commercials, you notice that they don't spend a tremendous amount of time showing the games. There's a lot of '90s acting in usually a classroom with a mean teacher telling these rad kids with their neon sunglasses why they need to play a PlayStation and do the math. And so I remember, so the Jaguar had come out, I was immediately confused by its controller because it had a number pad on the controller. Like basically you're holding this like little typewriter.

Dusey (11:25):

That is like an Atari hold over, if I've ever heard one.

Derek (11:28):

Yeah.

Dusey (11:28):

That's...

Derek (11:30):

Did you ever actually play a Jaguar? Like even at a friend's house?

Dusey (11:35):

If I did, I can't say that I remember the experience.

Derek (11:37):

Which isn't a good sign. When I was in college, one of the people I was friends with, I go over to their house, they had a Jaguar for like a month. Someone acquired it, they tried to make it work and they basically just played Alien vs Predator.

Dusey (11:57):

Which apparently was the big game for it.

Derek (12:00):

Yeah, that was their flagship game. And then this other game that... Basically imagine Star Fox from the original Super Nintendo, from two generations ago.

Dusey (12:16):

Where they had to put a 3D chip in the cartridge to get those graphics.

Derek (12:19):

Yes.

Dusey (12:19):

Yeah.

Derek (12:20):

Yeah. This game had worse graphics, worse gameplay and a worse reception than a game that had come out nearly 10 years earlier.

Dusey (12:30):

Cybermorph is that game. Yeah.

Derek (12:33):

It was, the graphics are choppy, the games aren't particularly fun to play. Everyone bought Alien vs Predator for that thing and then found out that the only fun character to play is the Marines because they have a gun.

Dusey (12:45):

So I want to back up, I want to put the story on hold for a second and kind of look at the bigger view here and say like, "What is going on?" We've got this awesome... I mean, it was technologically more advanced than the competitors. Despite these issues and despite the issues with the math, it was definitely more advanced. And, from reports that I've heard, that the Sega Saturn can be just as hard to program for. So a lot of what was going around was like, "This is really hard to program, there's all these different processors that do different things that work differently," compared to probably the PlayStation and the Nintendo systems were probably much easier.

Derek (13:27):

Yeah. Apparently that was a huge, huge problem is that because the chip set was like super proprietary in order to get it to a theoretical 64 bits, programmers were looking at this going, "This is a nightmare to develop for," and then they found out that they could just develop for the 32 bit chip set, which made their lives infinitely easier and so that's what they did.

Dusey (13:54):

Yeah. That general manager processor was the same processor that was in a bunch of different computers and other things and they would say, "Oh, we can just port this game over that we've made over here, run it the same way we do here, mostly ignore these other processors that are in here and we're good to go." And they're releasing things that look like the 16 bit era or stuff coming out from before.

Derek (14:17):

Yeah. They look like super Nintendo or Genesis games, but worse somehow.

Dusey (14:21):

Right. So, what I want to do is step back, looking at this picture and saying, so we've got this system that on paper seems like it should be great. It's from Atari who is known in the space, this is not some upstart that has to start gaining a ton of mind share and market share. So why doesn't it sell? Well, when it comes to video games, the games are what matter. To sell systems, especially in that time, there was a lot of talk about, like you said, the bit wars and just how powerful the system was. And do you hear some of that nowadays? Yes. But the focus now is much more on, "Here's an exclusive game that you can only get from here and here's how awesome it is."

Derek (15:06):

Yes. That's the big announcement circle around two things at like if you go to a conference or if you go to E3 or C2E2 something, when they do their big announcement for the next console, they talk about price and they talk about exclusive releases. Because I know for me the PlayStation 4, the only reason I bought the PlayStation 4 was to play Horizon Zero Dawn, that's it.

Dusey (15:33):

Exactly.

Derek (15:34):

I bought an entire system to play one game. And back Nintendo and Sega kind of got it because Nintendo would do the thing where they would release Mario or Mario Kart with the console because they're like, "Oh, the kids..." Like you get people a game that them and all their friends want to play. Then if they're like, "Oh, I went to Jimmy's house and I played Mario Kart and it was awesome. I want to be able to play Mario Kart at home." And then when I go to play... Like they want something that builds a community and the Jaguar just was not putting out any games that everyone wanted to play.

Dusey (16:11):

So, I want to connect this to an entrepreneur out there running a small business, and then we can hop back into the story again after that. But it's all about games is another way of saying, it's all about your customer experience. Are the people that you're working with having a connection with your product or service, a connection with you? Or is it a positive experience? Is it something that they want to go tell their friends? And Atari's focus was, "Well, how can we make a thing that we can market well?" Rather than, "How can we make a thing that's going to be super fun." And so to compare what Nintendo was doing during the same time, they're working on the End 64 on whatever their next console, project dolphin, or whatever it was before it was actually released because... And they were later, they were after PlayStation and Saturn and Jaguar, they were one of the last ones to release in that "generation."

Dusey (17:08):

So there's this great story about the guy who makes Mario, Miyamoto, they're working on the Mario game on prototype's version of the End 64 and before they design a single level of that game... and like Mario 64 people think about it and think it's all about these levels. It's the first time there's this 3D Mario and these amazing places that you can play in Mario and these amazing new views and these levels are designed super well, but before they designed a single level, they spent, I think, it was nearly a year working on getting Mario to move in a way on a completely flat, like picture an infinite white flat plane, getting him to jump and run and move in a way that was fun all by itself.

Dusey (17:58):

So they're saying, "Forget any of the rest of the game, when people use the main thing that they are doing in this game, we want every moment of that to just feel great." And once they nailed that, then they went and started designing the levels for what their release game would be. They had a vision of what they wanted their customers to experience when they first popped that system on and they first turned it on. They knew, they were very clear what they wanted that customer experience to be.

Derek (18:27):

Right. And that's the difference when you have a company that has a mindset where they treat their IP like art, and that is exactly how Nintendo has always treated their IP. Because you just mentioned them spending all that time on how Mario moves, if you think about it, anyone who's played a Mario game for any significant amount of time, even if you only played the first one and then you jumped straight to playing like Mario Odyssey now, you have an expectation that they have cultivated that Mario will run a certain way, he will jump a certain way, think about this, he will float in the air for just a second at the top of that jump. When I say that, everyone who's played Mario for longer than an hour knows exactly what I mean.

Dusey (19:10):

Yeah. He's got that great Jordan hang time.

Derek (19:13):

Yes. Just that second to go like, he's there. Ah, I got it. And Atari just seems like they wanted to build a box that would make money and that will not get you longterm success. They had developers that were just like, "This is a pain to develop for. We're just not going to do business with you."

Dusey (19:38):

Yeah. And on the developer side of things, so it was a little bit harder and some of the stuff that I've read on it says it just had a reputation that it was harder, compared to the Saturn, it was still about the same, others say it actually was harder. But either way, if you're programming for the Saturn, especially before it comes out and you're saying, "Man, I'm running into issues." What do you do? You reach out to Sega and you say, "Man, this is the issue that we're having," and Sega would say, "Let's get somebody on that and help you through this and make sure that you are making a great game for our system." Atari by all reports, never responded.

Dusey (20:20):

So people are coming to them saying, "Hey, this is hard. We're trying to make a game for your system." And in this world, you have to be officially licensed, like it's not just some random company that decided, "We're going to make a game on a prototype Jaguar or something." They have a business relationship with them and Atari never helped them learn how to program for their system. So not only are they not having a focus on pleasing their customers, but the people that they're working closely with, and again, in the small business world, we can say partners that you've made, people that maybe offer a slightly different service than yours that give referrals to you when it's not a right fit. Like whatever that partnership looks like, if you don't keep that alive and well, word of mouth is not going to be good for you and you are not going to be producing the type of content and experience that you want to for your customers. So to me, that was a huge blunder of them treating the people making games, just they're so focused on what they were doing, that they were not taking care of their partners that were really key to their success.

Derek (21:21):

You had mentioned the word "reputation," and at the end of the day, when it comes to consoles your reputation lives or dies by the imprimatur of 14-year-old kids.

Dusey (21:38):

That's so true.

Derek (21:40):

And right out of the gate, the talk on the playground was Atari Jaguar was the loser console. I think, that they didn't lean into anything hard enough. They didn't lean hard enough into being an adult console. Like Sega tried to gain some ground on Nintendo by being like, "Hey, we'll do violent games. We'll do games that have guns in them. We'll do games that have blood in them. We'll make the Sega CD and have congressional hearings about stupid games, like Night Trap," that's a whole other rabbit hole to fall down. And Nintendo was Disney, Disney always wins. But Atari is just over here all by themselves going, "But we got more bits, we have more bits," and people were like, "We don't want to play any of your games. We don't want to play any of your games, they're broken." That Star Fox clone, the name of which I can't recall right now, it was widely considered to be unplayable and one of the more frustrating games to come out at the time.

Dusey (22:46):

Yeah. And it was one of the few that was in 3D and had a jump in graphics compared to what the previous ones were. But again, if it's not a super fun game or if it's not making a huge splash, that sort of stuff doesn't matter.

Derek (23:06):

That word, "fun." I don't think I've ever heard of anyone referring to any Jaguar game as fun. Almost every console, even consoles that were complete failures, like I intentionally owned a GameCube and by all accounts, the GameCube was not a successful console for Nintendo, but it had games on it that I still swear by. Metroid Prime was an amazing game, the home version of Crazy Taxi was an amazing game, Ikaruga was an amazing game. So not a super successful console, but fun games. Atari Jaguar had none of the above. It was bad hardware that came with bad software. And without anyone having a reason to play it with their friends, there was no reason for their friends to buy it. And that's the deaf nail right there.

Dusey (23:56):

Yeah. I think it also speaks to taking time to make sure that the thing you're releasing, the thing that you're working on... Sorry, we can take a break if you need to take a quick pause.

Derek (24:10):

Pause. My daughter has an air filter and I don't know where it came from.

Dusey (24:18):

Okay. So, we're going to play one of these commercials for you now just to give you a taste, but you should definitely go check it out, go search for a Atari Jaguar, just Google Atari Jaguar do the math commercial, and you'll find this right away. But here's a little taste of that.

Ad (24:33):

Some of you believe your system is the most advanced in the universe, let's review the numbers. Sega Genesis is 16 bits. 3DO is 32 bits, the Atari Jaguar is 64 bits, which is more advanced, Clifford? With 64 bits, 3D graphics, real world animation and lightning speed that you can only get with Jaguar, which is more advanced, Clifford?

Ad (24:52):

Can you repeat the question?

Ad (24:56):

Jaguar, Jaguar, Jaguar!

Dusey (25:01):

So yeah, that's a little taste of what we're talking about.

Derek (25:07):

Commercials in that time period, they were just always yelling at you.

Dusey (25:10):

Yeah.

Derek (25:10):

Those commercials were yelling at you all the time.

Dusey (25:14):

Absolutely. That's great.

Derek (25:17):

Like still like burned into my head is, "Sega." And if you don't know what that is, and it doesn't trigger something in your brain, that means you're under the age of 35, so good for you.

Dusey (25:30):

That's fantastic.

Derek (25:32):

But yeah, all the commercials, you can see, they're rapid firing... If you're listening to the audio, you can't see all the game shots they're showing, but they just like show you 50 games all at once and then some actors in a studio.

Dusey (25:47):

Yeah. Two seconds of the 15 seconds is the games. Multiple games all in the two seconds and then the rest of it is the teacher saying, "64."

Derek (25:56):

And that Star Fox clone, apparently, is called Cybermorph.

Dusey (25:59):

Yes.

Derek (26:01):

And we had forgotten that there was one other big release for the game that they're really banking on and that was Doom. Doom was still pretty big at the time, pretty popular. I remember that it was either everybody... Because I went to a school for computers, just the general computers, we just looked at computers all day, and people either had Quake or they had Doom on their personal computers, which required all the computing power to play. But yeah, you you could play Doom on the Jaguar, but for some reason, the game had none of the music. So there was no atmospheric tone to the game, you were just shooting demons.

Dusey (26:47):

So the port was made by id Software, the people who made Doom. They actually made the port for the Jaguar and at the time they said it was one of their favorite ports, that was the most well done. Because Doom is known as the game that's been ported to everything, including the Apple watch. It's everywhere and they're not all great ports.

Derek (27:03):

Wait. Stop for a second. You can play Doom on the Apple Watch?

Dusey (27:08):

Well just cause someone ported it, it doesn't mean they've released it.

Derek (27:11):

Okay.

Dusey (27:12):

So I don't know where to find Doom for the Apple watch, but somebody did port it because you have to, you have to port Doom to everything. But yeah, it was apparently a very good port, the graphics were great.

Derek (27:26):

It looked solid.

Dusey (27:26):

But yeah, but for some reason, no music. Well, I know the reason is they were using that processor instead of for music and sound effects they're using for sound effects and more graphics processing.

Derek (27:38):

Yeah, to make it look like the game would look. Because it seemed like they released a version that had very little degradation to it, which was a problem you had with console ports a lot of the time. It's like, "Oh, this looks pretty close to what I'm used to playing at the arcade or on a PC."

Dusey (27:56):

Yeah. And that brings me to another small business point, which is what is your unique offering? What is the thing that you bring? And when I say unique offering, it doesn't mean that it has to be something that nobody else is doing, but maybe it's something that nobody else is doing in your city or maybe it's something that nobody else is doing in your field or whatever. But you've got to look at what you're offering, how is it unique? What is it that brings people back? And having Doom on your console, even a great version of it, is not a unique offering. People who wanted to play Doom probably already have. At the time, it was a good thing to have because a kid didn't always have a choice in what system they were using. So if it was a game they really wanted to play, it's nice to.... If Jaguar didn't have Doom, then that's another nail in the coffin. I'm saying like...

Derek (28:48):

They've got nothing at that point.

Dusey (28:49):

Exactly, "Can't even play Doom on this thing." But yeah, it wasn't anything unique. And I think that's important to remember is what is your specific unique offering that is going to draw people to you that you do better than anyone else? Again, maybe in your area in your field, you don't have to be like an innovator to the world, but you do have to bring something that people can't just get anywhere else. The service could be the same, the thing you are providing to your customers may be the same, but the way that you do it, that convenience that you have, the personalization that you give to it, there's a lot of ways that you can be unique and stand out in what you're doing and having Doom on your console is not one of them.

Derek (29:36):

Doesn't qualify. Yeah. If you really think about it, Jaguar's failure is that they didn't provide anything to anybody. And if you really look at it, all their press releases say like, "Hey, no, it was really 64. It just wasn't developed right?" The more research I do, the more it really seems like they were trying to bait and switch the public. It's hard to get past that idea that they were just like, "If we just say the word 64 bit enough times, it will trick enough people into buying our console," which is not a cool way to approach your customers. You've given them no exclusive content and you've put out a console...

Derek (30:17):

Yes my love, I'll help you in a moment. Oh my goodness. That's my that's fake crying. That's fake crying. You're a fake crier. I wish you weren't a liar, baby. I wish you weren't a liar. There you go, all the crying has stopped. But, the sorry for the interruption. So yeah, there were no exclusive titles, they didn't come up with any real IP for themselves, they didn't have a crash Bandicoot, they didn't have a Mario, they didn't have a Sonic, they didn't have anything. And then they put out this ad campaign where they're clearly trying to trick people. They knew they didn't have a true 64 bit console, the developers knew they didn't have a true 64 bit console, and, ultimately, the public figured out that they didn't have a true 64 bit console.

Dusey (31:08):

Yeah. Once that word got out and there was questioning of like, "Wait, how 64 bit is this really? This doesn't..." And why are people asking? Because it didn't look it, right?

Derek (31:17):

No.

Dusey (31:19):

If it looked it then people probably wouldn't have cared at all how they achieved it, if it looked the way that it was supposed to. So yeah, that's a really good point is that all day long, you can say how great the thing you do is, but if you don't back it up... Like you can trick a number of people into believing that this thing that they're going to get is great, but word will get out if it's a bait and switch. There's no right way to do that, it will always fall apart eventually.

Derek (31:52):

Especially a video game console, which is a product. And think about this, if you make a similar product, if you make a product that part of its value is bringing people together to be like, "Hey, I like doing this thing with my friend or my family member and I want to do it at my house, so I'll buy the same product," well, you need to think about what's going to happen when they go play that thing at their friend's house. Because a demo at your friend's house is just an invitation to never do business with Atari again. Speaking of which, so this isn't even the last time they did it. I don't know if you were one of the people that got a mysterious email from Atari about a year ago, saying that they were about to launch their new Atari console.

Dusey (32:41):

I did not get an email, but I do think I know what you're referring to.

Derek (32:44):

Yeah. So Atari put out... Like I got an email and I was like, "Why do I have an email from Atari? I don't know how I got on this list." But they're like, "We're going to put out a new console that's going to change the world." And I took one look at this thing and all it was, was a picture of what was clearly a computer modeled console on like a black background that said like, "The future is here." And I'm like, "That product will never see the light of day." And sure enough it's turned into complete vaporware, it's nowhere to be found now. Everyone's like, "Hey, what happened to that console you were building?" And Atari is basically like, "What console? What are you talking about?"

Dusey (33:22):

And if you're wondering, if you're thinking, "Wait, Atari is still around?" Well, the Jaguar did basically put them out of business, but...

Derek (33:30):

It officially killed Atari as a corporation.

Dusey (33:33):

Yeah. But rights got sold for the name and for some of the old games back and forth, so there's still companies out there that can call themselves Atari and release Atari games. And it's mostly the place where they're having any modicum of success is in re-releasing a lot of their old, original stuff that people are nostalgic for. Which is... I mean, I don't want to sound too derogatory when I say that because if you played those games and you want to play them again, that's awesome, I think that's fantastic.

Derek (34:00):

I like nostalgia. I'm a sucker for nostalgia, but I'm also like, "Yeah, you're just reheating leftovers. It's fine."

Dusey (34:08):

Right. Well, I think that just about does it for this episode of Worst Business Ideas in History, we hope that you've all enjoyed the new format. Go ahead, Derek.

Derek (34:16):

Oh, I was going to ask just before we close out, did you ever have a console you purchased that you regretted?

Dusey (34:23):

The closest would be, you mentioned it earlier, the Virtual Boy. I mean, I say purchased, I did get it as like a birthday gift or something. But I had a Virtual Boy, I had a bunch of the games, I rented a bunch of the games. After a while when it was clear that there weren't a lot of new games coming out, I sold it for cheap to a friend of mine and my mom told me that I would regret it and I do, just because it would have been cool to have, not because it was very good. But yeah, there's a whole episode that we could do on the Virtual Boy and why it ended up the way it did, quickly sputtering out. So, it's not like Nintendo hasn't had its share of failures as well.

Derek (35:00):

Yeah, mine was the Sega CD. I begged for a Sega CD. It was an interesting historical note in the console mythos, but as a platform, it was garbage. If you owned a Genesis, by the time you you got rid of it or sold it or gave it to a friend, it looked like Voltron, it had so many things attached to it to make it still...

Dusey (35:26):

CD, the 32X.

Derek (35:26):

Oh Gosh no, my parents put their foot down on the 32X, they're like, "Nope. Even we know that's a piece of garbage."

Dusey (35:33):

That's so great. Yeah. The Virtual Boy, again, we could do a whole thing on the Virtual Boy, but that was more of like, I want to say, if the games were amazing, it probably could have gotten through the marketing problem, but it was only red. And I don't think people could get over the fact that it was only red. I played some really fun games, I played some really terrible games, Waterworld on Virtual Boy that I rented once, that's my vote for worst game ever made. It's on a few of those lists, not as many, because it's not super well known. Oh boy, was that terrible.

Derek (36:06):

Oh please, please, please, it's almost... My weekend is this birthday. Or this weekend... I got so excited at this idea that I lost the ability to speak, this weekend is my birthday. As a belated birthday present sometime in the future, can we do our top five worst video games we ever purchased? Not played, but purchased and regretted.

Dusey (36:28):

Yeah, absolutely.

Derek (36:30):

Awesome.

Dusey (36:30):

Unfortunately, that one was a rental, so I don't know if that counts, but...

Derek (36:34):

Yeah, we'll count it, it's fine. Listen, when you're a kid and the weekend's coming up and you commit to a rental, that's a big commitment because now you're stuck with it.

Dusey (36:43):

Yeah, and you're going to make every moment count, no matter how good or bad that game is.

Derek (36:48):

There's a lot of your mom poking her head and being like, "So how is it?" And you're like, "It's fine. It's good."

Dusey (36:55):

Yeah, right.

Derek (36:55):

"It's good, right?"

Dusey (36:57):

Last aside, I once rented, I believe it was Secret of Manna before I bought it, three or four times in a row and made sure that I had the same cartridge so that I could get the safe game and keep playing it. All right. Well, that about wraps us up this time.

Derek (37:13):

This has been Worst Business Ideas in History. You hope you guys like the new format, we're still working on things going, we're going to keep trying to make them better. And we're going to figure out what our next topic is going to be. I'm excited to talk about more consumer failures and definitely like the '80s and '90s are ripe for that. So I'm going to get to dive into my childhood a whole lot.

Dusey (37:36):

Absolutely. So yeah, give us some feedback. You can always send us an email at [email protected] about this or these episodes that are getting dropped into Small Biz Buzz. You can give us feedback on Small Biz Buzz. Let us know what you like, what you don't and we'll keep here making content for you.

Derek (37:55):

Right on. Well, this has been Derek Harju.

Dusey (37:57):

This is Dusey van Dusen.

Derek (37:58):

And we will talk to you guys next time.

Dusey (38:00):

Bye.

Derek (38:07):

Thanks for listening. Please take a second to subscribe to the show and leave a five-star rating, it helps keep the show going. And, if you need a hand with growing your small business, head over to keap.com, that's K-E-A-P.com and get started. More business. Less work. That's Keap.