This generation’s video game console cycle is coming to a close. Nothing has been put on paper but you know that it’s about to end in a couple of years. You just know that Sony, Microsoft and maybe even Nintendo are hard at work researching and developing their successors to the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Switch systems back home.
But it looks like another company is throwing their hat into the next generation console race and it’s from Slightly Mad Studios, a video game developer with just under a decade worth of experience. Their resume includes games such as the Project CARS series and the Need for Speed: Shift branch of games. They may not have as impressive of a pedigree like Electronic Arts, Ubisoft or even Square Enix but their games are decent and it looks like they may know their stuff. Even so, their video game console concept, the Mad Box, is a huge gamble. Sadly, I think it’s a gamble that’s not going to pay off for Slightly Mad Studios.
The Mad Box does seem rather impressive, on paper, anyway. Ian Bell, Slightly Mad Studios’ CEO, has already given the ideals specs for the Mad Box. It’s slated to compete against the next Sony and Microsoft console. It’s also supposed to be able to do 4K gaming out of the box and run a solid 120 frames per second. Actually, he meant to say it can render 60 frames per second for each eye. That’s because their upcoming system is planned to run all the latest virtual reality setups. The Mad Box is supposed to be priced competitively and be as good as “a very fast PC 2 years from now.” He also mentioned that Slightly Mad Studios already has investors lining up and they are in negotiations with NVIDIA and AMD.
Right out of the gate, this is one of the issues I have with the entire Mad Box announcement: it’s all theoretical. Slightly Mad Studios is promising the moon by boasting how powerful the Mad Box is. What they haven’t given is any details and specifics regarding how they’re going to fulfill that promise. The mere fact that they’re still just talking to NVIDIA and AMD as to who’s going to be developing the processor for the Mad Box means they haven’t nailed anything down yet. Slightly Mad Studios may know what they want in the Mad Box but actually getting it is a totally different story.
Another problems I have with the Mad Box is, well, it has a dumb name and an even more stupid look. Let’s go tackle the concept design of the system first. The front of the Mad Box either looks like an neon outline of a bunny or the McDonalds logo mellowed out to some psychedelic mushrooms. The side has a gigantic Slightly Mad Studios’ logo/divot, which looks really unappealing and gaudy. Even Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo know enough to not be too overactive in plastering their logos all over their systems because it looks like you’re selling out! Oh, and it’s build in a tower configuration, instantly making it more difficult to fit in most home theater drawers.
There are also a few other things people aren’t really talking about the Mad Box’s design. It looks like it’s not going to accept any CDs since the front doesn’t appear to have a disc drive slot or anything like that. I know that the trend is to go full digital but, call me old fashioned, I like physical media! The internals may also be blurred out because “they’re still negotiating” with component manufacturers. Correct me if I’m wrong, but are those cooling fans inside those front glass panels? How would that even cool your system effectively? They also mentioned that it’s supposed to have a handle so you can take your Mad Box anywhere. Yeah, that worked out so well for the Nintendo Gamecube, right?
I also have to talk about its proposed name. Mad Box. It’s not exactly a “fun” name like PlayStation or Wii. Nor does it sound like a “badass” name like Genesis or Xbox. I guess is does sound like Microsoft’s Xbox but the “Mad” just doesn’t work. Maybe it’s just me but it just doesn’t sound like a gaming system. Then again, I was incredibly apprehensive when Nintendo announced that they renamed the kickass sounding “Revolution” to the cutesy “Wii” way back when. Still, Mad Box just sounds iffy right now.
Slightly Mad Studios also announced that the Mad Box will not have any exclusives. At least, they’re not going to demand that companies create any exclusive games for their system; it’s going to be up to them. The philosophy behind this is they feel that console exclusives are “exclusionary” and causes rifts as well as mini monopolies in the gaming industry. Well, that’s a noble idea and great for consumers but not great for businesses in the long run.
Now, I generally dislike the idea of console exclusives. There are so many games that I would’ve wanted to play but couldn’t because I could only afford one video game console at a time. But, in reality, console exclusives are important as they do help sustain the console manufacturers as they play a big part on what gaming system we buy. You want to play the latest Gears of War or Forza Motorsport? You have to get an Xbox One. God of War or Marvel’s Spider-Man? Better shell out for a PlayStation 4. Itching for some Super Smash Bros. Ultimate or any of Nintendo’s excellent game franchises? Buy a Switch. Heck, even the PC Master Race, despite usually having a ton of console ports, also has a ton of exclusives, such as Ghost of a Tale and Battletech, that people generally overlook!
Now, tell me, without exclusives, why would I want to get a Mad Box? It’s totally possible that it’s going to be powerful enough to get the best versions of multiplatform games while still being affordable. But, if I can get a somewhat watered down version of the game on something like the new PlayStation as well, I struggle through it if the new God of War will be on it. If they really want to entice me into getting a Mad Box, it would have to be way, way, way cheaper than the other consoles out on the market while still being able to play most of the multiplatform games available.
But the biggest issue with the Mad Box, in my opinion anyway, is the whole timing of the announcement. The system is slated to be released in, in Ian Bell’s own words, “around three years time.” So, you’re telling me that your announcing you new fangled Mad Box, a system that currently doesn’t have any solid specs and is just some imaginary system for now, but you plan to make it available three years later? That’s just absurd! How do you guys expect to keep us excited for it for the next three years?
Oh, and you also said that the Mad Box will be equal to “a very fast PC 2 years from now.” Once again, Ian Bell’s very own words. Well, that would mean it’s going to be outdated by one entire year because it’s going to be released after 3 years, remember? I did the math!
Sure, three years from now, I may be eating crow. The Mad Box may be the best selling console since the PlayStation 2 and may be the best thing since sliced bread (that’s shaped like a bunny’s face). I’m just not impressed now. There’s even a part of me that expects this to be vaporware and we won’t ever see the Mad Box. There is another part of me that wants to be wrong about it and the Mad Box does well, however.
Too bad I’m not wrong and the Mad Box is a bad idea.
What do you think of the Mad Box? Let me know what they are in the comments section below!