Once a household name in the world of video games, Atari is scarcely known among the latest generation of gamers. The company is famous for being the go-to for home gaming consoles during the 70’s and early 80’s, but late fell to the supremacy of Japanese companies like Nintendo and Sega. Though it achieved some notoriety for being the first company to release both a 64 bit console and a portable gaming system with a color screen, Atari will always be best remembered for its more classic achievements. From Pong to Space Invaders, its classic games, with their simple yet addictive gameplay, still resonate with gamers both young and old. Fans will soon have the opportunity to relive the magic, but after recent announcement it’s unclear just when.
As both third party markets like EBay or the success of the Wii Virtual Console have proved, there’s big money in giving gamers a way to play 8 and 16-bit hits from the golden age of gaming. Nintendo upturned the world of retro gaming with the release of their NES Classic, a streamlined version of the original cartridge-based console that instead comes preloaded with a library of classic games. Atari announced their own plans for a revamped retro system when they revealed the Ataribox at this year’s E3 conference.
Set to retail at around $300, the console takes inspiration from the classic 2600 and incorporates faux-wood paneling alongside more modern features like HDMI and SD card support. This week the company claimed preorders for the Ataribox were all set to open, but retracted the statment only days later. The company revealed in an email to customers that they needed “more time” to flesh out the console’s features and design to make it into something the “Atari community deserves.”
Atari did not provide a strict timeline for when preorders will officially open, nor outline precisely what design changes they plan to make to the console. Given the reasoning for the delay, it’s clear the company has something a little more involved planned than what Nintendo offered with their retro console. Whether this means a larger library of games or even all-new content is unclear, but given how vague they’ve been anything is possible. Though the delay is certainly disappointing, it’s reassuring that Atari is taking their time, considering this is their first foray into the world of video game consoles since 1993.