So, in case you haven’t heard about it, one of the godfathers of video games (known as Atari) announced that they would be bringing out a brand new console known as the Ataribox. This was huge news, especially for those of us who loved the original Atari consoles in all of their glory.
But the thing is, they didn’t actually say what the console was or announce any details about it. We just got a really nice image of the design (which looks awesome) and then a statement saying that it “will play original Atari games and modern games”. The thing is, the term “modern game” is very, very broad… I mean, that could be referencing the ability to play a big budget AAA game like The Witcher 3, or a small yet incredibly well-rounded indie game like Dex.
And so, we were largely let in a state of confusion about what the Ataribox actually was. That is, until late last month, when Atari released a newsletter containing some juicy little bits of information!
What Do We Know?
To be completely honest, we still don’t know that much. However, what little information we do have gives us enough to go on in terms of hype (this might get a little technical, sorry). To begin with, we know that it will be running on a custom AMD chip with a Radeon GPU. Now, in my computer at home I have an AMD chip and a Radeon GPU – they are really good for gaming! So the fact that they are included within the Ataribox means that it will likely run games fast and smooth, with little to no glitches being caused by the hardware. That is pretty bloody awesome!
On top of that, we know that it is running a Linux operating system. Now, this is interesting because, honestly, I half expected them to go down the Android route like Ouya did… And Ouya did not turn out good. So, having them use Linux instead (rather than Windows or Mac OS) makes a lot of sense. Very few want to touch Android for consoles after the Ouya, so the only other way to get an operating system on there without paying huge amounts to other companies for licensing was to go with Linux. The thing is, Linux hasn’t had that great a time (historically) with games. Most games were made for Windows, with Linux being an after-thought. Well, until Steam started pushing for games to be on Linux too, and now it is in a much better place.
It’s also important to note that Atari have hinted that it will be able to compete with mid-range gaming PCs, but not top-end ones.
And finally, we know that it is expected to release in “late spring 2018”, and retail between $249 – $299 (£188 – £255 at the time of writing) which puts it slightly cheaper than the PS4 and Xbox One, but definitely cheaper than the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X. Of course, it’s not really competing with them, as it is more of a retro console.
Right, so now that we’ve covered all of the information that we have at the moment, let’s try some wild speculation! It’ll be fun!
We know that the Ataribox is running Linux, right? Well, as I already mentioned, Steam is a huge force in Linux gaming (and gaming in general) so I can’t help but wonder if it will ship with Steam installed on the system, or if we’ll be able to install it. If we are, then that means that when Atari said the Ataribox will be able to play indie games, there will be thousands of indie games available through Steam! Imagine playing games like Lucius Demake through the Ataribox…
Plus, if it doesn’t come with Steam, it’ll only be a matter of time before someone works out how to get it installed. I mean, people have already worked out how to get more games added to the SNES Mini Classic! And at that point, the Ataribox could become a direct competitor of the Steam Machine, giving you a really cool and retro style console to play all the thousands of outstanding indie PC games!
And That’s All Folks
Just a short post this time, I know, but then we don’t have too much information to go on just yet. However, for Atari to make a comeback into the gaming industry in such a potentially huge way is really cool! It has me really excited for when it released, and I am definitely going to be picking an Ataribox up as soon as I have the spare cash available!
What do you guys think of the Ataribox? Would you purchase it over other current generation consoles? Let me know in the comments below!