The 3DO Company was founded in 1991 by Trip Hawkins, one of Electronic Arts cofounders, together with key industry players such as LG, Matsushita, AT&T, Time Warner, and Electronic Arts itself, with the idea of bringing to market a new CD based gaming console that, by following a strict set of specifications, could be manufactured by several partners. The 3DO Interactive Multiplayer was released with a lot of hype in 1993 (see Figure 144). However, the very steep launch price of $699 prevented it from building a user base wide enough to attract game developers despite
the generous royalty program offered by the company and the advanced technical capabilities of the system, which was built around a 32-bit ARM60 CPU with two custom video chipsets and a math coprocessor.
The 3DO system was manufactured by the likes of Panasonic, Sanyo, and Goldstar thanks to a standardized set of specifications, as was previously done for computers such as the MSX models. Interestingly, it had only one controller port but up to eight gamepads could have been plugged into each other in a daisy chain fashion.
The 3DO tried to be a complete entertainment system and focal point of the
living room where users could play audio and video CDs in addition to games.
Unfortunately, its gaming catalogue was, for the most part, uninteresting and lacked appealing exclusive titles. Even though more than 200 titles were released, CD-based games were at their dawn and developers were still in the process of figuring out the new and unique possibilities offered by the medium. In the end, many of the resulting games were sort of “interactive movies” with low-quality full motion videos and very little interactivity—basically, players could only develop the storyline by selecting one event from among a few predefined branching possibilities, but this wasn’t enough to keep them interested and the new genre failed to attract a proper audience.
At this time, in fact, gamers seemed not really keen on such an experience that, although original, was neither as relaxing as watching a good movie nor as engaging as playing a good game.13 Ultimately, the system was discontinued in 1996 after having sold only about two million units worldwide.