It’s possible that younger generations of gamers have completely forgotten the name “Atari,” but in the 70s and early 80s, it was the company to beat. A true pioneer of gaming, Atari was at the forefront of the arcade cabinet scene and produced some of the earliest home consoles on the market. The company is also responsible for hits such as Pong, Centipede, Missile Command, Breakout, Asteroids, and Gauntlet. Needless to say, Atari’s output as both a hardware and software manufacturer remains very influential.
Well, it seems like Atari CEO Fred Chesnais wants to make the former gaming giant a big part of the conversation again. Speaking with GamesBeat, he confirmed that the company is developing a brand new console.
“We’re back in the hardware business,” he told GamesBeat. He didn’t go into many more details about the console beyond that. In fact, we don’t know much more besides the fact that it will apparently run on “PC technology.” Chesnais said that Atari is still working on the design and will reveal the console at a later date.
Here’s everything we know about the new console:
Atari finally showcased the Ataribox’s actual design and shared a few details regarding what the console actually does.
The manufacturer stated that they plan on releasing two versions of the Ataribox, one that resembles the original console’s classic wood panel design and a more modern red and black edition, but each one will function exactly the same.
As for what that functionality actually is…well, there is some room for debate. there. In an email, Atari revealed that they intend to “create something new, that stays true to our heritage while appealing to both old and new fans of Atari.” As such, the Ataribox will be able to play both classic and modern titles. Given that the console ships with multiple HDMI ports and SD card slots, it seems likely that players will be able to upload classic and modern (most likely Android or Atari published titles) games to the system themselves.
However, it’s still not clear whether or not the Ataribox will ship with preloaded games or how gamers will be able to access additional titles beyond any games it may ship with. Atari stated that they are remaining intentionally vague regarding certain Ataribox details as they want to make sure they have time to get everything right and wish to have time to make adjustments based on consumer feedback. As such, we hope to know more soon.
Ataribox Release Date
Atari has not disclosed the release date for the Ataribox at this time. However, they have stated that the device is coming soon.
Atari also dropped a trailer for the new console, which teases the return of the wood paneling that was a trademark of the old machines. Check out the trailer below:
While it’s unlikely that the Ataribox will be anywhere near as powerful as the expensive Xbox and PlayStation consoles currently on the market, it could definitely do well in the retro console sector. Last year, the NES Classic Edition set the gaming world on fire, selling out almost instantly upon release. While Atari’s properties aren’t as popular as, say, Super Mario Bros., the Mini NES proved that there’s still a loyal fanbase of older gamers willing to shell out $60 or more for the classics.
The possibility of an Atari console equal to at least the Nintendo Switch in terms of power is very exciting, though. A fourth console option would be a major shake up for the industry, which has only had three consoles on the market at one time since Sega bowed out of the hardware business with the seriously underrated Dreamcast. Could the Ataribox be a true gamechanger?
To reiterate, it’s highly improbable that Atari, a company that’s nowhere near as big as it once was, could compete with giants like Microsoft and Sony. Still, an Atari retro console is a long time coming.