It is no secret that when Atari released their Jaguar console that they were going up against the 3DO. In some markets there were other options such as the CD32 (Amiga based) console and other lesser known platforms. This was all prior to the launch of the Playstsation (which would kick everyone in the butt) and the Sega Saturn consoles. What if Atari had licensed the 3DO hardware and released a version of it instead of the Jaguar? There is proof that Atari had a 3DO prototype running, there were even games released for it.
Before we get too far into this article it is probably worth mentioning that there were two Atari’s for many years. Atari Games was the arcade arm of Atari while Atari Inc was the home platform division. It is the arcade arm that licensed the 3DO hardware but it is unknown if that license was exclusive to arcade machines or if the home division would be able to make use of it too. I am basing this article on the assumption that the home division could use the hardware also.
I am not going to bore you with technical speak, suffice to say that Atari modified the 3DO hardware almost creating a new platform. Atari was floundering quite hard when they released their Jaguar console which did not help their bottom line.
3DO was created from a group of companies coming together to make a console on the revolutionary idea of licensing out the hardware to others to make. It was to be the “computer market” meets the console market- there are tons of computers over the years that run the same software in varying levels of quality. 3DO was to have a minimum hardware specification and compatibility requirements- outside of that licensed manufacturers could improve all they wanted. Some were planned with improvements such as the AT&T 3DO which was to come with a modem (none of the other 3DO consoles offered that).
There were two games known at this time for the Atari 3DO- Beavis and Butt-Head and Die Alien Scum. Beavis and Butt-Head appears to have been a 3D brawler similar to Final Fight and Streets of Rage. Die Alien Scum looks to have been shaping up to be a 3D rails style shooter like Total Eclipse or maybe free roam like Star Fighter.
It would have been interesting to see Atari throwing their hat in the ring with 3DO rather than developing the Jaguar console. What do you think? Would saving the R&D costs of the Jag maybe turned Atari’s fortunes around just a little longer?