Atari has confirmed it’s making a new console. As with the NES Classic, it’s hardware design is modelled on a retro original, namely the Atari 2600.
The company put out a teaser trailer showing the familiar wood grain styling, albeit with a major sheen, along with the name Ataribox. While that prompted some debate about whether it might be a marketing prank, Atari’s CEO Feed Chesnais has told VentureBeat is is indeed “back in the hardware business” and that it’s making a console that’s based on PC tech. Other than that he didn’t provide any detail.
There’s no real reason to think Atari has the capability or desire to make a modern console designed to compete with current-gen machines. Instead it certainly appears it’s an attempt to jump on the retro bandwagon to try to capture the people who have the interest (and disposable cash) to buy something to replay classic titles but can’t be bothered figuring out how to set up an emulator, particularly to display it on a TV screen.
Of course, this isn’t even the first retro 2600 release from Atari. It’s previously manufactured a replica of the classic Atari joystick that plugs directly into a TV and has 10 built in games, plus a series of replica consoles that come with wireless controllers and dozens of built-in games.
In theory that might mean it feels the need to jazz up the new model, for example by adding multiplay and online play features, allowing players to add new titles through downloads or some sort of removable media, and maybe even allowing new third-party development of games.
In practice though, the chances are that many of the people buying this will be doing so on a nostalgia kick or as a gift, and that it will get relatively limited use, so Atari doing more than the bare minimum might prove to be overkill.