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Atari Could Disrupt The Game Console Market With The Upcoming Ataribox
Jul 24, 2017

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There is a lot of mystery and well-deserved skepticism regarding Atari’s upcoming re-entry into the game console market with the Ataribox. In the current landscape, however, there is massive potential for Atari if the Ataribox is priced right and embraces the company’s rich gaming heritage.


All we definitively know about the Ataribox at this point is what it looks like. It’s been covered in many articles already, so I won’t go in depth again here. Suffice it to say, the Ataribox is a slim set-top box with a design language that harkens back to the original Atari 2600. Atari’s CEO has also said that the Ataribox will leverage PC technology. Assuming that second point is correct, that means the Ataribox will likely feature a multi-core x86 processor and either AMD or NVIDIA graphics. It could even feature a custom AMD APU, similar to what’s already inside the Xbox One or PlayStation 4.


The retro-look of the console and the potential for it to use PC technology could mean a lot of things. First, the console could be capable of running modern games with visuals that rival the Xbox One and PS4. It may even be some sort of new ‘Steam Box’ that can access the myriad of content available on Steam. But using PC technology also means that it’ll take minimal effort for the platform to emulate virtually all of Atari’s previous consoles, from the 2600 all the way on up to Jaguar – and that’s the real hook.


Retro gaming is HOT right now. One needs to look no further than the success of the elusive NES Classic Edition to know that consumers are still eager to play older games. I have a special place in my heart for the Commodore Amiga and published an article last week about building a retro-Amiga around the Raspberry Pi 3. In only a few days, that article has generated more interest than the vast majority of articles I’ve written in the last six months.


There are many reasons for retro-gaming’s popularity. There’s obvious nostalgia involved for many consumers, but retro games are also typically cheaper and can be simpler to master. The themes are usually less intense and violent than modern games as well, which makes them better suited to small children.


Atari may be facing a steep, uphill battle in the console marker, where Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo reign supreme, but should the Ataribox offer a mix of new compelling titles, along with the ability to play the multitude of classic games from Atari consoles of the past, it could be appealing to an extremely wide segment of the gaming market, especially if it undercuts the competition on price. Throw in the ability to stream content from popular services like Netflix and Hulu, and Atari could have a real winner on its hands.