Project CARS 2 developer Slightly Mad Studios is throwing its hat into the console race after its CEO announced the development of a new "standalone console" with VR support.
CEO Ian Bell made the announcement on Twitter earlier today writing, "The Mad Box is coming." Variety reached out for further details and Bell clarified that the console will "support most major VR headsets and those upcoming and the specs will be equivalent to a 'very fast PC 2 years from now'."
The Mad Box is coming.— Ian Bell SMS (@bell_sms) January 2, 2019
Further tweets from Bell outlined other features such as 4k graphics and VR support at 60FPS "per eye" which Bell later clarified to mean that VR will be in 120FPS. The Mad Box will support games from "all developers, old and new," according to Bell and will support cross-platform titles thanks to the studio's cross-platform Madness engine.
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) January 2, 2019
In fact, Bell says the studio doesn't really believe in exclusives as he thinks they are "exclusionary." There will be no incentives to exclude other consoles in favor of developing for the Mad Box exclusively Bell says.
"We think the industry is a little too much of a monopoly or a micro oligopoly," Bell says. "We think competition is healthy and we have the required hardware contacts to be able to bring something epic to fruition based on our designs."
Bell did not elaborate on pricing or release plans other than that the studio doesn't intend on taking a large cut "as other console owners to enable us to cut prices massively." Slightly Mad is still in talks with manufacturers for components but the designs are "specced out in detail." Bell says that investors are already interested in the project.
Since Microsoft introduced the Xbox in 2001 the home console market has largely belonged to Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo with other non-PC hardware makers relegated to more hobbyist spheres. From the sound of it, the Mad Box could occupy a space like the Steam Box which was supposed to bring PC gaming to the living room in a compact form factor.
Slightly Mad Studios, which was formed in 2009, has mostly focused on racing games through its short history. Its best-known games are the Project Cars simulation racers, both of which were well-received by enthusiasts. Project Cars 2 supported both Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, so Slightly Mad has some footing in this area.
It remains to be seen how Mad Box will fare against established home console makers, especially once Slightly Mad announces specs, prices, and other launch details.