Slightly Mad Studios, the company behind the Project Cars racing simulation franchise, has announced it is branching out into hardware with a high-end virtual reality (VR) games console it has dubbed the Mad Box.

Best known for well-received Project Cars and follow-up Project Cars 2, plus a third entry in the franchise designed as a successor to Need for Speed Shift and which is currently in the early stages of pre-production, Slightly Mad Studios is not a name you'd normally associate with hardware devices - despite the company's long-standing support for virtual reality (VR) platforms. That's something chief executive Ian Bell is looking to change, though: He's announced that his company is getting into the hardware business with a planned console launch.

'What is the Mad Box,' Bell asks via his Twitter account. 'It's the most powerful console ever built... It's literally "Mad"... You want 4k, you want VR at 60FPS [per eye]? You want a full engine for free to develop your games on it? You have it.' Asked to clarify his '60FPS' statement, Bell further explains: '60 per eye. It's 'right' when your console can run at 120 FPS. We're not playing around here. This is beyond next gen. For too long have subtle iterations been accepted. Time to raise the bar, substantially.'

A later confirmation from Bell that the Mad Box would support existing PC peripherals, including the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive families of virtual reality headsets, racing wheel controllers, and joysticks suggests that the Mad Box is less a console and more a compact gaming PC - though that's something, bar the locked-down proprietary operating systems, that could also be said about both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 families.

Sadly, Bell has not been forthcoming on technical details, including internal hardware, project launch date, and pricing - though if he's serious about hitting 120 frames per second for high-quality virtual reality in a compact console-like form factor, the pricing will be considerably above the competition.

UPDATE 20190107

Bell has shared renders of the Mad Box's industrial design on Twitter, revealing a PC tower-like structure with surprisingly wide wing-like 'feet.' The internal specifications, however, have still not been revealed.

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October 14 2021 | 15:04