The games console market is once again becoming competitive after being largely dominated by three companies.
Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have been the three pillars of the industry for some time but could face more competition in future.
With advancing technologies, it’s a market that’s becoming more accessible for more tech companies. Everybody from Atari to rapper Soulja Boy seems to have concept consoles in the works.
One of the more publicised and potentially serious competitors in the market is Slightly Mad Studios and their concept: Mad Box. Gamers were teased with the first images of the Mad Box earlier this year but the console is believed to be 3+ years away.
So will future gamers be welcoming a new contender in the console wars or will the Madbox be DOA?
Slightly Mad Studios
First of, who are Slightly Mad Studios and how well positioned are they to assault the console wars?
Slightly Mad Studios are an independent, UK based game developer that specialises in racing simulators.
They don’t have much of a history, having developed their first title, Need For Speed: Shift in 2009. The game was followed up with a direct sequel that led to the studio securing another lucrative racing license.
They developed Test Drive: Ferrari Racing Legends before moving on to their own racing franchise Project CARS. That would become the studio’s flagship franchise producing the more commercially successful Project CARS 2.
Two future entries in the series are already planned alongside the Mad Box. It’s not a ton of industry experience for the studio so the Mad Box is a risk to say to least.
Those Who’ve Come Before
This isn’t the first time other companies have tried to throw their hat into the console wars. History is littered with forgotten contenders, big budget flops and stars that burnt brightly but faded quickly.
You only have to look as far as previous industry leaders SEGA and Atari to know it’s a highly competitive market. As gaming really took off in the 90s’, dozens of tech companies tried and failed to get a slice of that juicy peach.
Apple is a company that can seemingly do no wrong in the modern era but the US firm could not crack the console wars. Despite partnering with popular game developer Bandai, the Pippin’s over-reliance on education made the console a commercial failure. A lack of third-party titles meant the Pippin had a life-span of just one year.
Likewise, Phillips who had a stranglehold of the booming CD industry at the time. The Dutch tech giant even obtained a rare Nintendo license but the Phillips CD-i is best known for producing the worst Zelda games of all time.
Their games were plagued by cutscenes done in a horrific art-style and some awful dialogue. This was supposed to set the CD-i aside from the competition. At least the world was introduced to the popular phrase ‘all toasters, toast, toast’.
The Mad Box Plan of Attack
One thing those previous flops had in common was a plan to go against the industry grain. With the established reputations of current consoles, any new contenders need to have something to make them stand out.
The initial pitch for the Mad Box was to develop the console for a future generation of games. Taking a gamble on predicting trends in gaming the Mad Box was targeted to be the first console of its generation.
Beating the likes of Sony and Microsoft to the latest graphics and hardware, stealing a march on the market. Later details have revealed a focus on VR and a unique control system. CEO Ian Bell is already promising 180 FPS for VR games and compatibility with current VR headsets.
A vague statement also claimed Mad Box will work more like a PC and be compatible with other consoles.
“[Mad Box] tech will allow developers to basically hit a button and deploy their tech to all major consoles.” – Ian Bell, Slightly Mad Studios CEO
Whether or not the studio will be able to fulfil these promises remains to be seen. The long development time is already an issue with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Two on the horizon. Plus other projects like Google Stadia which could render the Mad Box prematurely obsolete.