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Atari’s new Ataribox is all smoke and mirrors

Gamers are a nostalgic bunch. They jumped at the NES Classic and pleaded for backward compatibility on the Xbox One and PS4. Nintendo has cashed in on nostalgia recently with not only their NES Classic but with the Nintendo Switch. Gamers old and young, new and experienced, have bought the Switch for Mario, Zelda, and other classic franchises. Now Atari is looking at riding the wave with the announcement of their Ataribox. Before you get excited at the idea of Atari competing with Microsoft, Sony, or Nintendo we need more information. As of now, the Ataribox is nothing more than a few renders of a retro Atari 2600. We don’t know anything about the specs, price, release date, or any partners to publish games. What we do know is the console will combine new and old to ride on everyone’s nostalgia but also to create a current generation gaming experience.

Atari plans on delivering classic games alongside “current” content. I’m unsure what they mean by current but if they plan on republishing Rollercoaster Tycoon or developing new IP. Atari only has a handful of first party games that could become modern games. It’s also important to note that everyone is unclear on whether the Ataribox will have Xbox One/PS4 specs or something more along the line of a Nintendo Switch. One promising tidbit that makes me think Atari will have higher end specs is the inclusion of an SD card slot, USB ports, and has an ethernet port. A retro console wouldn’t need those ports, nor would a retro console need such a large case.

I still think the console won’t meet expectations

A big downfall of Atari back in the day was their lack of memorable franchises. Nintendo had Mario, Zelda, and a handful of other titles that kept gamers interested in Nintendo’s platform. Now Atari only has Rollercoaster Tycoon and Test Drive. For the Ataribox to succeed, they’ll need partners or more first party titles.

Another part of the Ataribox we know is how Atari is going to crowd fund the console. In a French investor press release, it was gleaned that the console would be crowdfunded. The note read; “To limit risk taking, this product will initially be launched within the framework of a crowdfunding campaign.” That is a big red flag. Atari doesn’t have enough money to fund the console or doesn’t believe the in long term finical success of the Ataribox. We’ve seen even the most successful Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns fail. Atari could raise millions on Kickstarter and never deliver or could produce an NES Classic with an Android TV gaming experience.

I have high hopes for the Ataribox, but at the same time, I’m expecting nothing more than an Android TV with a few retro games from Atari. I understand how a struggling company likes the idea of using nostalgia to fund a new project, but if they can’t fund it themselves, there could be a bigger problem for the company.

Let me know what you think! Are you going to back a crowdfunding campaign for the Ataribox or would you pass until it hit stores?