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Why Did The Sega Game Gear Fail?

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Have you ever been looking for a handheld device and came across the Sega Game Gear? Maybe someone told you that it was good, but when you looked it up, you noticed that it failed. Well, in this article we will go over everything you need to know about the Sega Game Gear! 

So why did the Sega Game Gear fail?

Although it was popular when it first released, it eventually failed for many reasons. Some of the bigger reasons that caused it to fail were its short battery life, its lack of games, and its higher prices for the device. 

If you want to know more about the Sega Game Gear failing, you will want to keep reading this article. You can also check out this video to learn all about the Sega Game Gear. 

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What was the Sega Game Gear?

The Sega Game Gear was a handheld or portable gaming console released by Sega in 1999. It was an 8-Bit fourth generation gaming console. The main reason behind the release of the Sega Game Gear was its competition with Nintendo. The rat race between both the companies to become the dominator in the market, led them to release various consoles, and this was one of them. It shares many of its features with the Sega Master System, a third-generation 8-Bit gaming console of Sega.

Sega Game Gear rushed through the market with a big campaign presenting out its technology and features like a full-color screen which was an upper hand on Nintendo’s Game Boy. They released it worldwide soon after production started. It was released in Japan on October 6, 1990; Europe and North America in April 1991; and in Australia iin 1992.

Though it was a quick pop up product in the market; it gained a lot of popularity with its unique gaming collection and price over the competitor Atari Lynx but not on the Game Boy.

Because of its amazing features, the Sega Game Gear was on its way to selling 11 million units by the year 1996. Even with these great numbers though, it could not surpass the Game Boy. As mentioned before, this was because of poor battery life, lack of games and high prices. 

Feedbacks about the Game Gear were mixed. Some people praised it with its color full screen and processing time and criticism about its huge size and poor battery life. There were many other reasons that it failed, and we will go over those reasons in depth in the rest of this article. 

Reasons the Game Gear failed

Although it is still considered a retro gaming console, it was not extremely popular when it was first released. Some major reasons for the failure of the Sega Game Gear are listed below. 

  • Poor Battery life

Game Gear was poor with battery life. They rushed it into the market with a motive to compete with Nintendo’s Game Boy, so Sega used a full-color screen as an upper hand on Nintendo and marketed the Game Gear accordingly. This feature was lacking behind in Game Boy. It was having a mono-color display and could view approx 40 colors only.

But this full-color display feature led to more bad than it’s good. As a result, its battery couldn’t last long. Game Gear consumes 6 AA batteries within only 4 hours. On the other side, Nintendo’s Game Boy consumes only 4 AA batteries and lasts for 10 hours, which was more than double as compared to Game Gear.

  • High Prices

Sega launched its Game Gear for USD 149.99, which was way more than Nintendo’s Game Boy, which was priced at USD 89.95. Gamers felt it unreasonable to buy such an expensive handheld gaming console when you have other cheaper options present around. A shocking thing was Game Gear was launched after Game Boy, which means Sega was having a loose grip over the market. Besides the fact they lose grip, Sega released its Game Gear at a higher price than Nintendo. Maybe they took their full-color screen feature as only determinants that could dominate the market.

High prices played a major role in the failure of Sega Game Gear. Although it sold 11 million in a life span of 7 years, it was way behind Nintendo’s Gaming Boy.

  • Huge size

One of the major drawbacks of Game Gear was its huge size. Because of heavy hardware for a full-color screen and a powerful processor, its size was large. Gamers felt it odd to have a handheld console with such a huge size. Handheld console, in its name, has handheld. But Game Gear could not present itself as easy to carry. This huge size restricted the sale and became a point for criticism for Sega’s Game Gear. It attracted consumers to Nintendo’s Game Boy as it was compact and easy to carry, a true handheld game console.

  • Strong Competition

With the release of the Game Boy in 1989 by Nintendo, rival Sega played its card by launching the Game Gear one year after the Game Boy. They linked the starting of the console with the competition itself and Sega continued to focus on a competitor rather than to improve its product. Because of this, Game Gear could not compete with its rivals. 

Besides its full-color screen and fast processor, it sold only 11 million units that were way behind Nintendo’s Game Boy. Further, Sega was more obsessed with its rivals and its dominance in the market rather than paying attention to the needs of its consumers. There was a need to understand the late entry of Sega in handheld consoles and it needs to focus on building strong fundamentals. But it rushed which resulted in the dramatic fall of the Game Gear.

Instead of building a product as per the needs of the consumer, Sega builds it to have an edge over the competitor only. Its major goal was to save its face value and lower its competitors. Sadly, it failed terribly.

  • Lack of exclusive games

Although Game Gear had an amazing processing time with a bright Full-color display, it lacked behind with providing exclusive games to its consumers. Gamers who brought Game Gear were waiting for some exclusive games for their new console, but Sega hadn’t provided exclusive games for it. It used the games from its previous console, the Master System. Sega must understand that a well compatible console is not enough when you don’t have those amazing games which could use the features to their best. This made consumers regret their decision of buying the Game Gear.

Soon Sega shifted its focus on building its new console ‘Sega Saturn’. Because of this change, they left Game Gear with weak support in the market. This weakened the image of the console and led to its failure. Finally, Sega withdrew its support from the Game Gear by the end of 2000.


Although the Game Gear was an incredible device released by Sega, it could not meet the expectations because of its poor battery life, lack of games, large size, and high price. It was possible to improve its features and it could have been profitable if Sega continued to maintain its focus on Game Gear, but it built the Sega Saturn and they discontinued the Game Gear. Even though it failed, there are many people who still own their very own Sega Game Gear today.