Phantom console was "ahead of its time"

Boss says release was "tantalisingly close".

Former Infinium Labs boss Kevin Bachus reckons the aptly-named Phantom console was "ahead of its time" and came "tantalisingly close to coming to market".

Bachus left the company in 2005, before Infinium Labs got wrapped up in a stock manipulation scandal and the Phantom - a hybrid console/PC - disappeared.

"I guess that on the whole, I wish them nothing but success," Bachus told Gamasutra, speaking of Phantom Entertainment's efforts to secure funding and finally get the Phantom into the market.

"I think that for me, there's kind of an empty place in our heart where Phantom should be because there was tremendous scepticism about the system and a lot of joke-telling and a lot of criticism.

"In some cases, there was also some bitterness and nastiness that was directed at the product, which is unfortunate because for those who actually spent the time to get to understand what we were doing and looked at it, I think they saw something that probably was pretty cool.

"Maybe in a way, it was a little bit ahead of its time because it was attempting to make the whole process of accessing games easier and therefore more accessible to a broader audience," said Bachus.

The Phantom aimed to do away with physical media in preference of a direct-download digital distribution system that Bachus said was like iTunes but on a "much, much smaller scale". Both addressed "the same opportunity", apparently.

"I think the idea still is very sound," added Bachus. "I think that it's unfortunate because one of the things that I really reflected on when I left the company was that to some extent the business was unfinished. And more than that, I realised that if the product never came to market, there would probably be a lot of people that would have said, "Well see, that just goes to show you. It was never serious, it was never real; there was never anything there."

"The truth is quite the opposite. The product was tantalisingly close to coming to market. But there was so much momentum that was difficult ultimately to overcome. I think that it sort of was a case of self-fulfilling prophecy."

Kevin Bachus was one of the brains behind the original Xbox. He has taken time out from the industry but wants to soon rejoin, and find ways to reduce production costs without affecting quality.

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