One of the more interesting surprises to come out of the gaming industry this year has been the news that Atari is planning to re-enter the home console market, something they haven’t done since 1993, with a device called Ataribox. First announced back in June of this year, Atari has since been periodically teasing info and images on their upcoming console via a dedicated website and through Facebook, Instagram & Twitter accounts. Then, late last month through a newsletter, we received the most in-depth look at Ataribox so far, which gave us some insight into its specs, pricing, OS and functionalities.
According to that newsletter, Ataribox “…will be powered by an AMD customized processor, with Radeon Graphics technology.” We know it’s going to run on Linux with a “customized, easy-to-use user interface” that includes games, the latest streaming services, the ability to browse the web and much more. With this combination of dedicated hardware and an open, customizable platform, Atari says it wants to deliver a strong gaming device that also brings a “full PC experience for the TV.”
We also learned that Atari will launch a crowdfunded campaign for Ataribox through Indigogo sometime this Fall. Why not just build and ship? Well, Atari says, “We want you, the Atari community, to be part of this launch. We want you to have early access, grab special editions (& pricing) and to have you as active partners in the roll-out of Ataribox.” The console will cost between $249 and $300 depending on the hardware configuration, and is due for release sometime in late Spring of 2018.
While this all sounds exciting, many gamers can’t help but feel lukewarm about this whole announcement.
Ataribox will fail worse than Ouya
A. Almost no Atari games are fun to play
B. 0% chance it will attract developershttps://t.co/QfggEkDgev
— Brianna Wu (@Spacekatgal) July 19, 2017
— The Arcade Vaults (@thearcadevaults) September 27, 2017
A lot of what is known about Ataribox feels reminiscent to another device that didn’t do so well on the market. Yes, I’m talking about that failed Ouya project from 2013. The Ouya, albeit less powerful, was also crowdfunded, it ran on an open-platform, had media apps and aspired to have a myriad of games to play, including the potential of its own first-party titles.
However, there are some key differences. First, the Atari brand is more established, and Atari itself is one of the most well-known gaming companies in the entire industry. Even my grandmother knows who made Pong. Secondly, Atari has the rights to a library of games, from classic, arcade to more modern experiences, including the rights to that infamous E.T. game that got buried somewhere in the desert of New Mexico. Also, we’ve just seen the raving success of Nintendo’s classic systems, why can’t Atari do the same thing?
Okay. So whether or not these two reasons are enough to separate Ataribox from the Ouya, is entirely up to you. However, once upon a time Atari was an innovative game developer and their home consoles dominated the living room space. Even amidst all the competition of 2017, it’s not such a far out opinion to think Ataribox could do very well in today’s market. I’m curious as to what you think about Ataribox, and whether or not it will succeed, in the comments below.