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The 3DO Interactive Multiplayer: Was It Really Worth The Original Price?

By Edited Oct 5, 2016 2 2

One of the most interesting video game consoles to ever hit stores was this fifth-generation system. It was manufactured by a firm called The 3DO company. This company's origins go back to 1991 when it was then called The San Mateo Software Group. It had a partnership with several other companies including AT&T, Matsushita, LG, Time Warner and a few others.

In the early 1990's, The 3DO company decided to enter the highly-competitive game console industry. On October 4, 1993 the company unveiled its newest product to the public, the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer. The company ran a handful of television advertisements attempting to convince gamers that this system was way ahead of its time. In the commercial, it even showed a guy throwing the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis into the trash. That year the 3DO was named by Time Magazine as “Product of the Year".


At the time, the 3DO's direct competitor was the Atari Jaguar (which was released on November 15, 1993). The Jaguar had a pretty hefty price tag of about $250. So, what did the 3DO cost? An astonishing $700. The 3DO offered a host of cutting-edge technologies such as video footage and CD-ROM technology. It also had a huge game selection to choose from.

Some of the accessories that could have been purchased for the console included a light gun. Only around 10 games with light gun support were produced for the system. Most of these were arcade ports from American Laser Games. The technology that the light gun used was taken from the Sega CD. Other add-on accessories included a mouse, an expandable memory unit, a steering wheel, and a karaoke machine.

One of the 3DO's biggest obstacles was its fierce competition. On May 11, 1995 Sega launched the Saturn in North America. Then four months later, Sony introduced the PlayStation to the gaming world. With the launch of these systems, sales of the 3DO plummeted and it was impossible for the console to compete against them.[1]

Over the next few years, the company's executives attempted to reduce the price of the console. The next system that the company was going to introduce was called the M2. It was initially announced as an add-on for the 3DO. Eventually, executives revealed that the M2 would be an entirely separate console. It was also rumored that it would have backwards compatibility with  3DO games. Eventually, however, the M2 project was scrapped altogether.

On September 29, 1996 Nintendo released the first 64-bit gaming console, Nintendo 64. The debut of this console clearly put the nail in the coffin for the 3DO. The 3DO system was discontinued at the end of 1996 with a complete shutdown of all internal hardware development and divestment of the M2 technology. The company was forced to restructure themselves and solely focused on internal software development. Eventually, the company supported different computer platforms and worked with companies such as Sega and Sony.

The company eventually did design a next-generation console that was never released due to various financial and technological issues. The console was supposed to use dual PowerPC 602 processors and more advanced 3D rendering technologies. What was left of the so called “M2 project” was later sold to Matsushita.

Interestingly, many video game historians as well as fans would all agree that the 3DO had one of the worst games of all time. The game was called “Plumbers don't wear ties”. The game was an adult-oriented dating simulator game. Many would agree that the game's production values were atrocious, the storyline was ridiculous, and the acting was terrible. Moreover, the game's cover claimed that it was a full motion video game. In reality, a video was only shown at the beginning as the rest of the game had only a slide show. Some believe that it was created as an experiment, and somehow executives eventually agreed to sell the game to the public.

In 2009 video game website IGN chose the 3DO as its 22nd greatest video game console of all time, many believe that it shouldn't have even made the list.

According to Yahoo! Games the video game system was placed among the top five worst console launches. This was mainly due to its high launch price and one-game launch lineup. Another major complaint that was mentioned was the console's one controller input. This problem kept on appearing, even when modified versions of the console were released.


The 3DO will always be remembered as one of those consoles that was supposed to be a great video game system. In the system's defense, it did have a handful of decent games and some of them actually had pretty good full motion movie scenes. Furthermore, it also went head-to-head against other consoles such as the Commodore CDTV, Pioneer's LaserActive, and the Tandy Video Information System.

Unfortunately, the 3DO will go down in history as a system that is comparable to the Samsung Nuon. The technology was ahead of its time and other components that the consoles offered were not that terrible. The main problem was that the clientele at the time waited for consoles to arrive from more established video game companies. For example, a company like Sony had some many other products, that the console business made up a small part of their revenue. Once a console is launched and it does not sell quickly, usually its life span is cut short. Both the Nuon (some will argue it was not really an actual video game console) and the 3DO were also very pricey at the time, and just did not offer what the gaming community wanted. In addition, these companies never made consoles in the past, which made it even harder to sell these products to the public.

There are a handful of die-hard gamers out there that will most likely hunt down and purchase these consoles and add them to their vast collections. Most will agree that they may just want to leave these consoles on their shelves for show.




Apr 28, 2015 8:35pm
quite informative. Keep up friend
Apr 30, 2015 12:51pm
Didn't 3D0 end up making games for the N64 as well? I'm too young to really remember the 3D0 console but I seem to remember their logos popping up in some n64 games as well.
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  1. Richard Stanton A Brief History of Video Games. New York City: Running Press, 2015.

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