Given the weeks of anticipation and teasing fans with a promo video that looked like a car commercial, it was only a matter of time before Atari -- makers of the classic video game console the Atari 2600 -- unveiled their newest console. That day has arrived.
The first images of the brand spanking new Ataribox were sent to fans in an email this morning, and it clearly calls back to the classic Atari 2600. We have just a few details and a couple statements from the company, but here's what we know at this point:
- The new machine comes in two colors: red and the classic wood paneling the OG Atari was known for.
- It's got an HDMI port and four USB ports, as well as SD card slots that allow for expansion.
- The email promises that Atari will deliver "classic gaming content" (Pitfall!, anyone?) alongside "current gaming content." (So... new games?)
And beyond that, we know basically nothing else. It's clear that Atari wants to capitalize on the same nostalgia that drove NES Classic sales and the announcement of an upcoming SNES Classic. But otherwise, the company seems to be playing coy. The company even points that out in the email itself (emphasis added):
We know you are hungry for more details; on specs, games, features, pricing, timing etc. We’re not teasing you intentionally; we want to get this right, so we’ve opted to share things step by step as we bring Ataribox to life, and to listen closely to Atari community feedback as we do so.
...Which is honestly a pretty funny thing to say in a news release. Whatever, just get it right, Atari. It's also worth pointing out -- as a note to French investors revealed and Eurogamer reported -- that the corporate plan is for the Ataribox to "initially be launched within the framework of a crowdfunding campaign.” This will be done "to limit risk taking" on Atari's part. In doing so, though, Atari needs customers who trust that it will deliver a console worthy of their crowdfunding dollars, and it may be difficult. Video game crowdfunding kinda tanked in 2016.
Additionally, Atari may encounter competition from its own brand. The company AtGames licenses the Atari name to manufacture a console called the Atari Flashback 7. It's a plug-and-play gadget released in 2016 that comes with 101 playable classic Atari games built in (lacking Pitfall!, sadly), and it's available at Bed, Bath and Beyond and other retailers for about $40.
So that might be a problem. To be fair, the Ataribox looks way, way cooler than the Flashback 7.