In Depth

Atari to launch first games console since 1993

Firm's chief executive says console has been 'years in the making'

The legendary video games company Atari could introduce an all-new console next year, more than two decades after the firm launched its last system. 

Atari, known for producing iconic games such as Asteroids and Pong, has released a teaser trailer for the new console on its website. The trailer shows a part-wood finish and the company logo illuminated on the top of the device. 

It's called the Ataribox and the firm says it's "coming soon". The trailer doesn't provide a release window or tell us which games it will run.  

Fred Chesnais, Atari's chief executive, told GamesBeat that the company is "back in the hardware business" and that its new console has been "years in the making".

While Chesnais didn't disclose specific hardware details, he does say that the Ataribox will use PC technology and will incorporate a retro design. 

Why did Atari stop making consoles?

The US-based games company was one of the first to release a conventional home console, launching its 2600 in 1977 as a simple plug-in-and-play gaming system, says the Daily Telegraph

"It went on to launch several generations of consoles", adds the newspaper, although "it was overtaken by Nintendo, Sega and Sony". Its last system, the Atari Jaguar, was launched in 1993. 

From then on the company focused exclusively on gaming software, launching popular games such as Test Drive Unlimited and the Rollercoaster Tycoon series. 

Atari's most recent projects involve software creation for mobile platforms, the website says, including a portable version of Rollercoaster Tycoon 3.  

What are its rivals?

Details of the Ataribox are scarce, but the Daily Telegraph says the new console "could run emulator software and play classic Atari games." 

If that's true, the Ataribox would enter the resurgent retro-gaming market and join systems such as Nintendo's NES Classic Mini, which the paper says "quickly became a sell-out before being controversially discontinued this year."  

This means it's unlikely to rival the high-end systems such as the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One – all of which had substantial production budgets and years of development. 

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