We’re filing this as the first major surprise of 2019. Sim racing developer Slightly Mad Studios has a new project: an entire console platform.
The news once again comes courtesy of Ian Bell. The SMS head honcho has been on a hot streak on our forums lately, confirming Project CARS 3 and explaining the team’s approach for it. Bell’s rung in the new year by joining Twitter, and used his first tweets to tease a dedicated gaming platform.
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
Suitably called Mad Box, the console will feature true 4K power as well as VR support. Bell clarified the original info above with Variety, stating that VR will actually be able to achieve 120fps.
The free development engine is a surprise move as well. Slightly Mad has created a full suite for other developers to utilize as they see fit, without any additional cost. “We think exclusives are ‘exclusionary’ but given that we’ll be shipping a cross platform engine to all developers it will be their choice,” Bell told Variety, “as of now we have no plans to pay developers ‘incentives’ to exclude other hardware vendors.”
SMS already has numerous investors onboard, and is looking at a global console launch. Bell promises a competitive price, with the target release window being roughly 2022.
A game developer getting into the console business is unheard of. Developers help a company shape its hardware, sure — Polyphony Digital has done so with multiple generations of PlayStations, for example — but this, this is something new.
We won’t have to wait long to get our first look at the Mad Box, either. Bell told Variety that pictures of early design builds could be with us in four to six weeks. We’re looking forward to seeing what the team has cooked up.