Twenty years ago, Atari was a name synonymous with video game hardware, known as industry pioneers for their various different home computing releases. However, following a series of shortfalls in the 1990s, Atari dramatically dropped out of the hardware business, with companies like Microsoft and Sony filling the void they left.
According to Polygon, Atari is planning a hardware comeback. In an interview at E3 2017, CEO Fred Chesnais confirmed that Atari is "back in the hardware business," and currently working on a brand new games console. The last gaming console from Atari was the Jaguar, which debuted in 1993 and was discontinued in 1996.
Whilst Chesnais couldn't say much about Atari's new hardware, a brief video shared to the company's YouTube channel on June 8 teased a device called the Ataribox. The video claims the Ataribox to be "a brand new Atari product" that has been "years in the making." However, again, there are no actual details around Atari's plans for the console and whether or not they're creating the device to compete with the current major manufacturers of gaming hardware, including Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo - who were all also present at E3 2017.
The video offers a glimpse of a unit that appears to have wood veneer, much like the iconic Atari 2600, the company's first console. However, again, whether or not the footage is a glimpse of the actual Ataribox or the company is just using footage of the Atari 2600 for effect is unclear, and Chesnais didn't provide any clarification.According to VentureBeat, Chesnais did, however, confirm that the upcoming console will be based on PC technology and is advising interested developers to head to the Ataribox website. As it stands, it looks as if Atari could be planning to create a throwback console, with a selection of their classic games, not too dissimilar to the Nintendo NES Classic, which saw huge success last year.
Given that Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo are now truly cemented as giants of the video games console industry, it looks unlikely that Atari plans to compete with them. That said, as aforementioned, if the Ataribox is, in fact, a collection of the company's classic titles, it would be an imaginable success considering Atari's popularity amongst a certain generation of gamers.[Featured Image by Sascha Steinbach/Getty Images]