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Top 10 Unreleased Consoles

1.  The Phantom

Never has a console been more aptly named than “The Phantom,” perhaps the biggest and most notable blunder of the video game industry.  After nearly 3 years of hype, promises, and press releases, the project was finally cancelled due to a lack of funding, amidst rumors that the entire affair had been a hoax.  Whatever the case, the story of the Phantom is easily the most publicized case of vaporware gaming equipment to date.

The Phantom

A company known as Infinium Labs (who would later change their name to Phantom Entertainment) was previously best known for its development of novel and innovative computer keyboards.  In 2003 they announced plans for a new gaming console, quite unlike anything on the market at that time.  This new console would be capable of playing all PC games and offering new content through a direct download service rather than the use of physical media.  This information generated an enormous amount of interest at the time due to the thousands of PC games available and the ease with which developers could create new titles.  According to press releases made by Infinium Labs, the Phantom would make its first public appearance sometime the same year, but the console remained unseen until E3 in May 2004 as a prototype.

The Phantom

The PhantomHenceforth, the Phantom would be plagued by one pushed back launch after another.  Its first online appearance came in August of 2003 with a list of hardware specifications and pricing information.  The Phantom was promised to cost less than $399 plus a $9.95 per month subscription fee to “PhantomNet,” the service that would provide downloadable content.  A projected release of Q1 2004 was initially mentioned and later moved to November.  Several announcements were made confirming a January 2005 launch with Infinium again postponing the Phantom until March.  When the consoled failed to make an appearance at 2005’s E3, most consumers were convinced that the Phantom was as elusive as its namesake.  Scattered reports would later throw around an August 2005 release, but again, the month came and went.  Finally, on February 1st, 2006, reports surfaced that the Phantom had been delayed indefinitely and by August all mentions of the console had been removed from the company’s website.

The PhantomAt various points during the more than 2 years of delays, Infinium Labs / Phantom Entertainment cited numerous financial, distribution, and development problems.  The company had repeated difficulties locating funding for the product,  finding retailers to carry the Phantom, and completing development of the PhantomNet content delivery service.  Rumors of financial scandal eventually made their way into the mainstream, with Phantom Entertainment reportedly losing over $60 million attempting to create the Phantom.  Many enthusiasts are convinced that the Phantom never existed and that the one publicly displayed prototype (at E3 in 2004) was in fact a fake.

The events surrounding the Phantom are certainly more bizarre than those of other entries on the list.  Indeed the tale seems so strange that one has to wonder what information the public hasn’t been privy to.  While the other unreleased consoles failed due to mismanagement, bad marketing strategy, or plain old bad luck, it’s not as easy to pinpoint why the Phantom never came to fruition.  Surely there is more here than meets the eye.

Hell, I can’t imagine buying this.  The subscription is what really irks me, plus I wouldn’t really need the PC gaming ability aspect with the L600 and ApeXtreme under my belt.  Then again it would just be that one console I never bought, so yeah, the completist in me would’ve bought one.

I still can’t get over the fact that the damn thing was called The Phantom!  It’s like Microsoft naming the 360 “Broken!”

Written by The Cubist

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