Will Atari still be around in 2049?

As one of the founding companies of the video game industry, Atari can be credited with popularising home consoles with its insanely successful VCS / 2600 platform. However, the company should also take the blame for flushing that same industry down the toilet in the early '80s, triggering the infamous "Video Game Crash" which poisoned so many western retailers on the idea of consoles. Nintendo would have to contend with this prejudiced view when it brought the NES to the United States, but the Japanese company eventually won over retailers and players alike, reviving the console industry in the process.

Since then, Atari has undergone many changes behind the scenes; Nolan Bushnell's original company - known as Atari Inc. - was sold to Time Warner before it was offloaded following the aforementioned crash, with the resurrected Atari Corp shifting focus to the home computer market with its line of ST systems. 1993's 64-bit Jaguar was the final throw of the dice for this iteration of the firm, and since the late '90s the name has been little more than a brand printed on boxes.

In 2013, the current iteration of the firm emerged from bankruptcy to focus on smartphone and online casino games, and now CEO Fred Chesnais has confirmed that it is indeed working on new hardware for the first time in 20 years.

Believed to be based on PC hardware, little is known about the Ataribox, but the teaser shown above would suggest that the external casing will tickle that nostalgia bone, as it looks like a dead-ringer for the original Atari VCS, complete with faux-wood panelling on the front.

Despite its recent troubles, the modern Atari is now profitable, and has been leveraging its history by engaging in licensing deals, including the use of the iconic logo in the forthcoming Blade Runner 2049. The original Blade Runner was released at Atari's zenith in the early '80s, but the inclusion of its logo - and that of other famous brands which have since vanished - led to the notion of the "Blade Runner Curse". Allowing it to be used in the sequel isn't just something to get nerds smiling - it's a clever means of reviving interest in the brand from a marketing perspective, too.

Given the small size of the company today, it's hard to see this new console challenging the likes of Nintendo, Sony or Microsoft. Perhaps it will be a simple emulation machine, resurrecting classic games from the '70s and '80s - although that would put it in direct competition with AtGames and its line of licensed plug-and-play Atari consoles.

Let us know what you think about the Ataribox's chances by posting a comment below.

[source venturebeat.com, via ataribox.com]