Skip to main content

'Mad Box' is an upcoming (and totally not vaporware) gaming console

There's something to be said for wanting to shake up the way things are done in the gaming world and to encourage something a little different. Epic Games is trying to do this with its flawed approach to Fortnite on Android and its weird but pretty new store for PC games, and now it appears the folks at Slightly Mad Studios are drumming up hype for their own thing. Instead of just new software, CEO Ian Bell announced a whole new standalone console called the Mad Box.

What we 'know' about Mad Box

So what is this new console, and how will it stand up to the likes of the next generation Xbox we already know about? Well ... nobody knows. Including, it seems, CEO Bell.

Want specs? Well, there's not much to say at the moment. In a conversation with Variety, Bell claimed the Mad Box "will support most major VR headsets and those upcoming and the specs will be equivalent to a 'very fast PC 2 years from now,'" whatever that means. On Twitter, Bell claimed the console will offer 4K and VR at 60 frames per second (FPS). He later corrected this to VR at 120 FPS, after he tried to explain to VR developers in replies on Twitter that his 60 FPS comment was "per eye," which isn't a thing. He doubled down on this explanation with a mention of interlacing, but it was clear Bell really didn't fully grasp what he was talking about. And either way, 4K gaming with 120 FPS and VR are things we already have from the Xbox One X and PlayStation 4 Pro. Current PCs are capable of considerably more, and that's obviously only going to improve in two years.

No need to go mad over Mad Box

The one thing that makes the Mad Box slightly interesting is the ecosystem Bell wants to create. He's made the repeated claim of a full engine to develop games for free and matched that with promises to never pay for exclusives or offer incentives to exclude other consoles. While it's cool there are no plans to pull a Sony with its titles, that only matters if developers actually build with this console in mind. It's supposedly going to be possible for games built on existing engines to be ported to Mad Box with ease, but like everything else related to it, few details exist so far.

It's safe to say there's not a ton of reason to get excited about this brave new super console. The expected release window for the Mad Box is around "three years from now," and is expected to be priced "competitively" with Xbox and PlayStation offerings at the time.

Overwhelmed with specificity, I find myself fairly confident this Mad Box is not actually going to shake the gaming industry to its core in 2021, or if it ever arrives at all.

Russell is a tech nerd who chases the best of everything, from phones to game consoles to laptops and everything glowing or beeping. He's the Managing Editor of gaming content for Mobile Nations and can be found contributing to all of the Mobile Nations sites. Reach out on Twitter!

  • It has 0 chance from inception. Why? Exclusives. Trying to bring out some sort of PC/console with no first party studios is how you get your company closed down. Slightly mad studios aren't that big. And don't have much funds. Whosever idea this was in this company has made a big error. I actually can't believe they are doing this with PS5 and Xbox 2 being announced this year. It's utter madness.
  • The company makes solely racing games. If their intention is to sell a racing rig that will allow other developers to tap into (such as Forza) then that would be cool; especially if it allows new hardware configurations for wheels and accessories. But I think this is going to be another vaporware announcement that five years someone is going to stumble across and go, "wait, I remember someone mentioning that!"
  • Or maybe it runs on the Euclidian engine so it can have unlimited detail.
  • In any event, hopefully "Mad Box" isn't the final name for this thing. Hopefully that is just what they happen to be calling it (e.g. "Scorpio"). They've got to have a marketing team on this... It'd be like someone opening a hardware store and calling it House Depot. A little on the nose, right?
  • What a charming brand of hot air. This of course can't have any grounds in reality whatsoever, or chance to succeed. Funny chap.
  • "never pay for exclusives or offer incentives to exclude other consoles. While it's cool there are no plans to pull a Sony with its titles" Oh I'm sorry I could have sworn Microsoft does the same thing. Dead Rising 4 , Rise of the Tomb Raider, PUBG etc.. :)
  • Either Ian Bell has jumped the gun by not fully grasping what he is actually saying, thus would indicate the general level understanding when it comes to hardware specs just like most people. As not everyone thinks about compute performance and TFLOPs etc when buying a games console lol. Or he truly has something up his sleeve and wants to drum up excitement to get investors interested; as after all it will take a fair amount of capital to mass produce consoles. Unless they wish to go for the organic, hand built and artisan route, which is catching on certain industries just not in gaming yet - as that is usually done by die hard PC modders with one off cases or at a massive expense pushing it out of reach from most of the public.
  • Why doesn't he go after the top dog and name this thing a "MadStation?"
  • Terrible way to announce an upcoming console.
  • Last time I heard of a console that was supposed to change everything and be super amazing, it was was a failed console from Infinium Labs called The Phantom. It failed so hard it was pretty much vaporware. This smells more of the same.
  • "And either way, 4K gaming with 120 FPS and VR are things we already have from the Xbox One X and PlayStation 4 Pro" Really?!? 4K@120FPS on current consoles?!? I know some games are able to keep 60FPS on 4K on the X, but many of them have dynamic resolution scaling, and/or 30FPS caps. Is this correct?
  • Didn't they find that the average gamer couldn't tell the difference most of the time so long as the frame rate and anti-aliasing gave them a smooth experience? My own personal experience is that smooth gameplay tops everything. Particularly during intense action sequences. I don't care if something isn't native 4K 100% of the time so long as the explosions and particle effects are fluid.
  • I completely agree with you, but in my opinion, the article seems technically incorrect by saying we already have 4K@120FPS with the current consoles. I could be wrong though, and I am wondering what games actually achieve such frame rates at that resolution.
  • I mean a lot of games on PS4 Pro can't even do Native 4K yet it's advertised as a 4K console. I think most games on PS4 Pro do 1440p-1880p lol. It's a joke of a console.
  • Ya I haven't heard of a single game on either consoles hit this. Typo I bet
  • I predict that they are: 1) going to demo what is essentially a Windows 10 gaming PC with a custom interface, at a big show
    2) Claim that the production model will have a Steam Machine type OS in future
    3) That they won't be able to match the existing players for price or performance Sorry, but steam couldn't sell a console based on existing hardware with existing games. I don't think that a new player can move into this market without some truly innovative approach. Making a bigger more powerful console won't cut it. People who want big and powerful tend to buy PCs, because big and powerful = expensive.
  • Why would this even be a concern to consumers? Why on earth would ANY consumer care about what another OEM might be doing? I certainly don't give a rat's behind about what Sony is doing with the PlayStation. Why? Because I do stuff with Microsoft's world and all their systems work the best with their stuff. Does PS have Cortana? Will this mythical MadBox have OneDrive? This is a non-story. Only children go chasing after specs. The rest of us go with a more holistic approach.
  • whatever happened to that new Atari console?
  • I got my T-shirt. Console still pending...
  • Did you just freaking say we already have 120fps VR on Xbox One X? YOU don't know what you are talking about Russell. An embarrassment. Leave and never write again.