Atari Releases new Ataribox Details, Raising All New Questions
We now have a few more Ataribox details, including release window and general pricing, but the new details may actually raise a few other big questions.
If you haven’t yet heard that Atari is planning a major push back into the game console market, don’t feel bad. Other than a few cryptic messages and an image or three, along with a few links for developers and jobseekers that don’t actually show any news for developers or jobs, the once industry dominating game and hardware maker has been fairly quiet about its new project.
Today, Atari released a few additional Ataribox details that do explain a few things, but may actually raise more questions than they answer. Still, better some news than no news, and it does show they are making forward progress.
Price and Release Date(ish)
Perhaps the biggest news from today’s press blast involved the pricing and release date. Both are have some wiggle room, but it is a good starting point.
“We plan on shipping late Spring 2018, with an expected price range of $249-$299 (depending on specific editions & memory configurations),” Atari stated.
The “memory configuration” is an interesting note. The release also adds that the Ataribox will be “powered by an AMD customized processor, with Radeon Graphics technology.” That, in itself, could mean many things. We’ll have to wait for more details on the hardware to really know how powerful the system is. With a price point under $300, however, it doesn’t sound like it will be challenging the PS4 Pro or the Xbox One X. It may be closer in power to the Switch, just without the benefits inherent in the Switch’s portable design. Where the
While it might not make headlines over its power, where the Ataribox may instead try to stand out is its Linux operating system featuring a “customized, easy-to-use user interface.”
Again, vague, but it does raise some interesting questions.
“[A]s well as being a great gaming device, Ataribox is also a full PC experience for the TV, bringing you streaming, applications, social, browsing, music, and more,” the release claimed.
The reason for using Linux, according to Atari, is that it allows the Ataribox to be more open. Users will be able to customize the OS, and “access games you’ve bought from other content platforms (if compatible with the OS and HW).”
So is this essentially a Linux-based PC with a simplified UI? Does that mean it’s basically an underpowered Steam Machine? It seems unlikely that Valve would allow Atari to access Steam, especially given its emphasis on medium-to-high powered hardware, but then again, Valve has taken a fairly hands-off approach to hardware and who uses its platform.
Still, if Atari is just building a Steam Machine, why would it not just announce that it is teaming up with Valve (even if that is a loose interpretation of “team up”)?
The Missing Piece(s)
It sounds like there’s still something major we are missing. Atari is taking a huge risk jumping head first back into a console market that is absolutely dominated by three manufacturers. And if it is basically a PC in a nostalgia covered box, the competition is even fiercer. Is it just a more powerful Ouya? That market is perhaps the weirdest of all.
Atari is promising more details on games soon, which should give us some picture of what the Ataribox really is. What we do know is that the system will come wit “tons of classic Atari retro games pre-loaded, & current titles from a range of studios.” Atari went on to state that more info on this will be coming soon.
Bringing in the Crowds
Beyond all of that, there’s one more important piece of news Atari dropped: the Ataribox will begin taking pre-orders this fall – via Indiegogo.
Now, Atari could be hoping to engage its community in an attempt to bypass and even disrupt the gaming hardware industry. It wouldn’t be the first to try. But the more likely answer is just that it doesn’t have the funding or the backers to really launch the Ataribox at the moment, at least not like it will need to if it hopes to compete.
Using crowdfunding to get a product out can be a great idea. It worked well for companies like Oculus (at first), but Oculus was offering something that was relatively new. Atari is going to be jumping into a heavily competitive field, and if it is relying on crowdfunding it won’t have the resources to do much advertising or publicity. Nostalgia can only carry it so far.
It feels like there is something we’re missing, something Atari knows that we don’t. We’ll have to wait and see exactly what that is.
Oh, and Atari also confirmed that the wood on the wood-grained models is actual wood. So there’s that.