The Intellivision Amico is a rather interesting new system heading to the market, a game console focused on “family” content (under 10 age group) that is reminiscent of a mix of Wii and Wii U in the game. concept. Having said that, he also had his share of problems; there have been gaiters online, controversies over some of the people involved in the project, and multiple delays in the hardware. We touched on many of these issues in a summer interview which you can read here.
Right now, the system doesn’t have a fixed release date after several delays, but it does offer limited edition builds for collectors; yes, it is rather strange to sell bundles of games before the hardware is on the market. Limited to 50,000 units, there are eight combo games, split between an all-in-one set at $ 149.99 USD or two volumes of four games each at $ 79.99. While the games hit a high of $ 20 each one way, the lack of flexibility in the packs shows that they only target enthusiasts and collectors.
What is rather intriguing is the detail of how the physical media in the system work. It has been common knowledge for some time that the Amico will have RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) support, a technology commonly used for tracking and surveillance of goods. Game cards (designed to look like the original Intellivision media) do not function as physical media like a disc or a cartridge; instead, you scan it on your system, there is a download, and then it binds to your system.
In a very current approach, digitizing the card also makes it an NFT (non-fungible token) on your system, with your digital copy then being managed in the blockchain. Like cryptocurrencies and those NFT sales that you have no doubt read, then you are supposed to ‘own’ that digital copy and can transfer it. So, theoretically, the game card can be used on multiple systems, with the card transferring ownership to the system being used. The cited benefit is that it’s easier to move your download through this card than the digital purchases we typically make on the eShop, PSN, or Xbox Store.
It’s very 2021. It makes us think of some interesting topics about downloadable games, however, and the limitations they have. Some games are downloadable only out of necessity, but of course when we’re done we can’t lend them out or give them to friends or family like we can with a cartridge. Our downloads on stores like the eShop are also really licenses, in which we are basically rental games, so it’s always a sticking point. The Amico solution is an intriguing take on the idea of owning a “download” of a game, although we’re probably a long way from seeing this kind of approach at a mainstream level from Nintendo, Sony, or Microsoft.
We should also mention that there are various critiques and concerns about NFTs and blockchain technologies, from their environmental impacts to a general lack of oversight and regulation. Any product that fully incorporates this technology will also face similar questions.
However, if the Amico is anything, it is a little unique, despite its difficult route to the market.