Ready Player Four: Atari is back in the video game console business
Maybe the creators of the new Blade Runner knew something we didn't? Atari's logo is prominently displayed in the upcoming futuristic film's trailer, a fact that was ridiculed by many a viewer who pointed out that the company was basically dead in 2017. Well, that may be the case no longer, as Atari has announced that it is working on a brand new video game console.
The surprising (and it is indeed exactly that) announcement has been confirmed by Atari CEO Fred Chesnais in an exclusive interview with GamesBeat. Chesnais unequivocally told the website that his company is "back in the hardware business." It doesn't get any more definitive than that.
Chesnais probably decided to speak on the matter due to the confusion that has followed a mysterious "Ataribox" teaser. The short video clip, which can be seen below, shows brief glimpses of what looks like a sleek console with wood paneling that resembles a modern-day Atari 2600. Naturally, most people who saw the teaser assumed it was either a new Atari console or a well-made hoax. Chesnais' comments affirm that it is indeed the former.
But, exactly what is the Ataribox? Neither Atari nor its CEO will say. Odds are that it is a "retro console," similar to Nintendo's recently-released and wildly popular NES Classic. The NES Classic was a runaway hit that took even Nintendo by surprise, selling out instantly—and multiple times—in stores nationwide and forcing the Japanese company to ramp up its production. Is Atari hoping for a similar effect to prop up its perpetually sagging fortunes?
Or—and this is a very far-fetched possibility—does Atari hope to compete with the Big Three hardware manufacturers—Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo—as a fourth participant in the never-ending console wars? Admittedly, that would be the biggest surprise in gaming in who knows how long. It's highly unlikely, but stranger things have happened.
The one detail that Chesnais did reveal during his interview with Gamesbeat: the Ataribox is "based on PC technology." Given that console emulators and the current-gen consoles themselves are also based on "PC tech," that really doesn't tell us much. The waiting game begins, it seems.