Slightly Mad Studios is developing a “stand alone console,” that will support VR, CEO Ian Bell revealed Wednesday.
The Twitter account of Ian Bell, CEO of Slightly Mad Studios cryptically tweeted “The Mad Box is coming” on Wednesday.
When reached for more details, Bell told Variety that the console will ship in “around three years time” and that “it will be a console as is the Xbox or Playstation.”
“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 wrote in an email. “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.”
The reveal originally appeared via Bell’s Twitter account, which appeared to be newly created as of Wednesday. The official Slightly Mad Studios Twitter account also retweeted Bell’s tweets, lending validity to the new account, which is not Twitter verified, yet.
Slightly Mad Studios is the group behind “Project CARS 2” and “Need for Speed: Shift.” The London based studio, founded by Bell in 2009, is known for working on racing and driving simulators, as well, using its cross-platform Madness engine.
When asked about what games will be available on the console, Bell stated that “We plan to allow games from all developers, old and new.”
“The ’new’ possibly being many of those that benefit from our completely free development engine,” Bell said. “It will be a stand alone console.”
As for exclusive titles, the CEO says it will be up to the developers.
“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 wrote. “As of now we have no plans to pay developers ‘incentives’ to exclude other hardware vendors.”
Exclusionary practices aren’t really in line with the thinking of Slightly Mad Studios, based on what Bell told us.
“We think the industry is a little too much of a monopoly or a micro oligopoly,” Bell explained. “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.”
The studio is looking at shipping the console beyond the UK, and Bell hinted at some intriguing possibilities.
“It will be a worldwide console,” Bell wrote. “And we’re already in early talks with areas that are, let’s say, not particularly open to other vendors at this moment.”
When asked if the console will be crowdfunded or offered in partnership with another company or investor, Bell’s explanation revealed that Slightly Mad Studios already has several interested parties.
“We have multiple investors already offering the required funding for us to see the product to completion, but it’s still early days and we’re looking at the best offers right now,” Bell explained. “All that we have approached are discussing standard partial ownership investment deals.”
As for how much the new console will cost, Bell said it will be “competitive with upcoming console prices.”
“Prices will drop with ship quantity but we’re not planning on taking as large a cut as other console owners to enable us to cut prices massively,” he stated. “We fully expect to be matching the best of the rest early in the lifecycle though.”
While we don’t have any images yet for the console, Bell told Variety that images of early design builds will be coming in four to six weeks time.
In addition to games and driving simulations, Slightly Mad Studios creates “simulation adaptions” using its Madness engine. These adaptions have various uses “from automotive to mining, autonomous vehicle AI to tailor-made VR showrooms, from off-the-shelf solutions to full bespoke simulation,” according to its website.
“Project CARS” was even used to help test Almotive’s autonomous vehicle software and its ability to detect obstacles, according to VentureBeat
“Project CARS 2,” a racing simulation game released in 2017 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One and had “generally favorable reviews” and a score of 84 on Metacritic
. It was nominated for Best Sports/Racing Game for The Game Awards in 2017.