What just happened? The console market is dominated by three names: Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. But according to the CEO of game developer Slightly Mad Studios, the company will eventually be joining that group with “the most powerful console ever made”: the Mad Box.
UK-based Slightly Mad Studios, developer of the Project Cars games and Need for Speed: Shift, made the announcement through CEO Ian Bell via Twitter. He told Ars Technica that the Mad Box is expected to launch in “three-plus years,” and cost a “standard plus next-gen price.”
“It will support most major VR headsets and those upcoming and the specs will be equivalent to a ‘very fast PC 2 years from now’,” Bell told Variety. “We’re in early talks with manufacturers of components so we can’t say much more right now other than we have the designs specced out in detail.”
What is the Mad Box? It's the most powerful console ever built... It's literally 'Mad'... You want 4k, you want VR at 60FPS? You want a full engine for free to develop your games on it? You have it.— Ian Bell SMS (@bell_sms) 2 January 2019
While virtual reality still hasn’t become the worldwide phenomenon some expected, Bell says the Mad Box will have a focus on VR. After some confusion, he said the console would enable 60fps per eye in VR, making a total of 120fps. He also said that “No one is running at 180fps.” When people noted that both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift both have 90Hz refresh rates for each eye, Bell added that existing consoles couldn’t render 180fps content for VR headsets "with any sort of next-generation detail" but that the Mad Box will.
Bell also said the company will be offering a free, cross-platform development engine for devs to create games on the Mad Box, and mentioned that it was in talks with vendors about wireless VR headsets.
Not much else was revealed about the Mad Box, though Bell did say images of early design builds will be coming in four to six weeks. We’ll have to wait a few years to see if the console ever makes it to market, and if it does, whether its success is more Steam Machine than Nintendo Switch.