by Dark Watcher
Infinium Labs, a Tampa Bay area technology company, announced on January 20, 2003 that they were on the verge of releasing a new game
console called the Phantom. The announcement seemed to have come out of blue causing some to believe that this console was either a
hoax or vaporware. Could a small Florida based company take on three of the leaders of video gaming with their untested and unknown
So what would the Phantom be packing that would make it stand out? Not only was Infinium Labs claiming to make this console outperform any on the market, but they would provide a unique way to attain games.
The Phantom is described as an "always on" broadband device making games available via the Phantom's downloadable system. Users will be able to subscribe to gaming packages, pay per play, demo / rent games you are looking to purchase, and seamlessly upgrade your system requirements and patches. This game downloading concept is not something new. The concept is similar to the prototype Taito WoWow and what was put into effect with the Satellaview in Japan.
Not only will the method be interesting for gamers, but game developers and publishers could reap greater profits using the new game delivery system. It makes sense since they don't have to pay for a game media format (Cart / CD / DVD). Meanwhile the Phantom reaps in funds from purchased downloaded games, licensing fees, and rentals (steal away Blockbuster's thunder). The Phantom would also reportedly provide music and movies on demand, with instant messaging and video conferencing capabilities.
The Phantom Game Receiver (as reported in 2004) would have support for DVI, S-video and component video, feature full support for 5.1-channel stereo audio. The Phantom would be powered by Nvidia's NV line of graphics cards, and high-end CPU provided by AMD.
The Phantom was planned to ship with a sizeable suite of high-end PC games, slightly-older classics, and children's titles. The games would reportedly be free to play with the purchase or rental of the system. For renters the console would be available for a month-to-month rental fee of about $29.99 per month for two years, or you could cough up a one-time purchase fee of $199.99.
New games could be bought online using the system's buying interface with just a few mouse clicks. Though the system would come with a sizeable hard drive (of 80GB), it would automatically manage hard drive space by preserving the games that users play most often and deleting any games that haven't been played for some time. Once you buy a game, you could always download it again at no cost. Since Phantom is based on PC hardware, users would apparently be able to play online PC games with other users at the same level of play.
Some nice pictures courtesy of Famitsu.com
Could the Phantom succeed in a market dominated by three console giants clawing for superiority? Infinium Labs has already experienced
financial setbacks and delays (missed original 2004 holiday release). They had also lost former Microsoft Xbox rep Kevin Bachus as
their CEO. The Phantom's once unique "downloadable game" format has also been adopted by
DISCover, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii. The
company lacked the financial capital to release this system and has been put to rest. The Phantom, though once promising, will forever
go down as one of the premier vaporware consoles.
FACT: The system never saw the light of day, but Infinium Labs plans to at least make some money off of the Phantom Lapboard (for us on standard computer systems).