Amidst all the hoopla during E3 last week, Atari CEO Fred Chesnais came out of nowhere to tell GamesBeat that the classic gaming company was working on a new console called the “Ataribox.” This comes four years after Atari filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and at a time where the console market is full of systems loyally embedded in households.
The Ataribox teaser, which you can see above, hints at the classic wood paneling of the Atari 2600 but shows little else. If it’s Atari’s version of the NES Classic, you have to wonder who wants one? Completionists? We’re talking about collections of games that are now 30-40 years old, and selling a piece of hardware that holds the games is way more expensive than going out and buying a collection of classic Atari games (here’s one with 30 games and three versions of Asteroids for Xbox One that costs only $20). At this point, even the people who grew up with Missle Command, Breakout or Pac-Man would admit that the original versions of those games are far inferior to any updated release, and the new games on PSN or Xbox Live Arcade will be cheaper too.
So what’s going on here?
Considering Nintendo owns the mobile space with Sony’s PS Vita in a distant second (and the mini-computers in our hands called phones), Atari would be silly to enter the handheld market. Who needs another mobile system, especially when Switch is out there with must-play games? Should Atari be “back in the hardware business?”
GamesBeat’s article says the Ataribox will be using “PC technology” but few other details are mentioned. What could this gadget possibly do that isn’t already available on the Xbox, PlayStation, Switch or Steam Link? Are there any franchises they can reboot to truly make this system a must own in an industry that is quickly rivaling Peak TV in its ability to give us more than we can handle?
Maybe it can play Atari Jaguar games? Aliens vs. Predator reboot? Alright. Fine. Sold.