The panorama: Infinium Labs created a major scandal in the early 2000s with the introduction of the Phantom, a PC-like home video game console that promised to eliminate cartridges and discs in favor of a direct download content delivery service. It never materialized as a consumer product, but now you have the opportunity to own a rare prototype.
The system suffered multiple setbacks and ultimately never made it to market, but what many will probably remember most about the Phantom is the Legal battle between Infinium Labs and the HardOCP technology site.
As the story goes, HardOCP published in investigation report about Infinium Labs and its founder in late 2003. A few months later, Infinium Labs forcibly sent a cease and desist letter, demanding that the piece be removed. A legal battle ensued, in which HardOCP emerged victorious. In the end, Infinium Labs paid $ 50,000 to close the case.
Only a few prototype Phantom consoles were known to exist. At QuakeCon 2004, HardOCP’s Kyle Bennett smashed one to pieces in front of a live audience. Most recently, in 2015, a prototype emerged at a computer repair shop in Florida. And now, one is up for auction courtesy of Heritage auctions.
Game memories have been a hot commodity of late. In August, someone paid $ 2 million for a sealed copy of Super Mario Bros. A month earlier, a copy of Super Mario 64 sold for $ 1.56 million, beating a record set a few days earlier for a rare copy of The Legend of Zelda. .
The roof of the prototype Phantom console is as much of a mystery as the console was in its day. We also don’t know yet if this is the same unit that showed up at the repair shop in 2015, or a third prototype. A quick comparison of the scratches on the 2015 model with the one up for auction suggests that it is not the same, or that it could have been repaired. Heritage has listed it as the only surviving example of the gaming industry’s most infamous piece of vaporware, so perhaps it is the same from a few years ago.
A digital console that relies on delivering content over the Internet is not something to be excited about today. Hell, it’s fast becoming the norm. But in the early 2000s, it was a revolutionary idea that was ahead of its time. But for some reason, Infinium couldn’t deliver.
Mind you, the first console to offer such functionality, the Ouya, wouldn’t hit the scene until mid-2013, roughly a decade later.
Heritage confirmed that the system, which is really just a PC with a fancy chassis, turns on and plays a short demo reel promoting the console. This would be a nice addition to a full video game collection, but that’s really all it does right now.
The current bid is $ 340.
Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions