A new gaming console from Infinium Labs announced on January 20, 2003, due out December of the same year. It promises to be The Future of Gaming Consoles, with such features as bundled wireless controllers, instant and constant broadband access to games and patches, the ability to heal the lame and blind, and literally _thousands_ of bundled games. Okay, so one of those isn't true...

What is definitely true is that the Phantom could easily be a big fat ol' hoax, or merely another case of brochureware. The website at www.infiniumlabs.com starts with a voice and text animation boasting about the infinite greatness of the Phantom console, about how it will completely revolutionize the gaming world, allow console gamers to play against PC gamers, allow online pay to play games and demos, bring peace to all nations etc. without giving any hard details. Unfortunately, the rest of the website isn't much better. Here's the entire page entitled "The Phantom In Depth":
Infinium Labs is the inventor and manufacturer of the first broadband game console. The Phantom game console provides consumers the ultimate game playing experience with potentially thousands of games offered by the December 2003 launch.

Whee! Wasn't that informative?! So much depth! All of _my_ questions were answered.

In case you want more info, the website is happy to oblige. The Phantom Showcase page has some keen CG images of what the Phantom looks like (no prototype, sadly). Step back, Xbox! A page entitled "Imagine" puts into text the same thing that the voice-text animation just said! Look out, GameCube! The "Consumer Benefits" page includes such mind-blowingly vague benefits as:
  • The most robust gaming console!
  • Seamless upgrades and patch management!
  • And up to 50,000 games to choose from!


The "Game Selection" page is more specific on that "games to choose from" number, claiming that _currently_ there are 32,679 retail titles available. Right now. As in of this writing, before the system is acutally available. This means one of two things; either it's going to be like one of those "14,393,281 GAMES!" packages you find on the $5 rack at Best Buy consisting of 90% bad solitaire games and 10% bad not solitaire games, or they somehow got the licenses for one hell of a lot of decent games without having enough information about their console to convince me that it's more than a cereal box with a weight in it.

But wait! I want to know more about the peripherals! The "Accessories" page promises the wireless controller along racing wheels, mice, &c. - no big surprise there. It's the online gaming page has me super-psyched, tho! Wanna read it? HERE'S THE WHOLE THING!
The flexible architecture also allows for future support of multi user online gaming.
HOT DAMN! I can't wait. They do make a big deal about this thing letting folks participate with PC gamers online, even in massively multiplayer games. The press release claims that the Phantom is an "Always On Broadband Device" - sounds to me like you need either an extra phone line or at the very least a routed cable modem or DSL line.

Anyhoo, the surrealism continues on the "Phantom Platform" page (under the Developers Zone tab). Consider this quote:
By adopting an agnostic approach with Game Developers and Publishers, Infinium Labs will become a leader in providing software companies a new and efficient distribution channel for publishing titles.
Agnostic, eh? So they're not sure as to whether or not the developers and publishers exist, so they're not going to say one way or another? It gets better, of course.
Current console systems have adopted an expensive licensing fee for Publishers that strangles revenue possibilities for the Publishers and Developers. Infinium Labs will give Publishers a platform to distribute their titles in an efficient and profitable manner.
So these guys are going to start telling folks about how licensing is going to work from now on. And then they'll work out a lasting Middle East peace. The "Developers Benefits" page elaborates, insisting that the Phantom will allow developers to get instant user feedback on beta products which users can access the instant they become available, and will "a distribution system in place that can immediately place your products in front of the masses so it can be sold, subscribed to and demoed." Wow, that totally doesn't sound like things I can do on the internet already. Way to innovate!

Initial analysis: This looks a whole lot like a sealed-box computer system with lots of marketing and not much substance. I'll continue to update this node as more details become available - the first unveiling will be in March. Who knows, I might be wrong.

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