Ataribox pre-orders start on December 14, but details remain scant

Few pieces of tech encapsulate the modern hunger for nostalgia quite like the diminutive retro gaming boxes that have been announced or released over the past couple of years. Take, for instance, the NES Classic Mini, the SNES Classic Mini and the C64 Mini.

This Thursday, December 14, according to a curiously information-phobic announcement, you'll also be able to pre-order another nostalgia-fueled retro box for your increasingly crowded collection. This time around it's the Ataribox, based on 1977's Atari 2600 that was the definitive home console in the years before the landmark Nintendo Entertainment System.

And, well, that's about all the new information we know. We've known about the Ataribox for months now, but we still don't know what games will come with it. (Asteroids and Centipede seem like safe bets.) 

We also have no specifics on how the Ataribox price, although earlier reports from Atari pegged it in the eye-widening range of $250 (around £187 / AU$332) to $300 (around £225 / AU$398). That's enough to make the SNES Classic Mini's retail price of $80/£80/AU$120 feel like a steal by comparison. 

The announcement also claims that the device's "earliest supporters" — which basically appears to mean people who signed up for email alerts — will get some kind of discount when the offer goes live in Indiegogo, although the nature of that discount remains a mystery. The deals will be "extremely limited," though, which likely means Atari plans for the first units to sell out quickly as in the cases of the Nintendo minis.

We don't know if the Ataribox will be available for purchase globally, and we didn't receive an immediate response from Atari when we requested more info. We don't even know a proper Ataribox release date aside from "early 2018."

All of which is to say that the announcement seems to be hoping potential buyers take a lot on faith, although hopefully more information will be revealed on Thursday.

Bridging the gap

At the very least the device looks cool, with one of the two versions featuring a modern take on that late 1970s aesthetic that combined black plastic and wood out of a seeming fear that all these groovy newfangled gadgets would never look right in a home without some disguising.

But keep it on your radar. Earlier reports claimed that the Ataribox wouldn't just be stuffed with classic games in the style of the SNES Classic, but that it'd also deliver a "full PC experience for the TV," complete with a Linux operating system and AMD graphics.

Maybe there's something to that, as the price makes it more of a competitor for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One S rather than the gift-friendly Nintendo minis, so it'll have to pack some impressive surprises up its sleeves to justify it. In September, though, one of our writers expressed his opinion that the device is "equipped to over-hype and under-deliver." Here's to looking forward to surprises.