At CES in Las Vegas, several days ago Alienware revealed a concept they have been working on called the UFO. While the concept looks and feels like a games console, it’s actually a high-end Windows gaming PC that has been designed to in the style of a portable games console. Like the Nintendo Switch, it can be played through a TV or in a handheld portable mode.
It’s important to point out that the console is only a concept that Alienware have been working on, they have not yet confirmed they will be producing the system and sending it to market. What was revealed was a prototype and an example of the future may hold for the company.
Alienware have long been on the peripheries of mainstream gaming. Owned by computing giant Dell, Alienware are a boutique gaming PC brand. Their products are expensive and flashy but come with a lot of prestige and a hell of a lot of power.
Today the line between games consoles and gaming PCs is blurring. Every console generation gets closer and closer to just being gaming PCs you plug into your TV. The Nintendo Switch may be the only major console that still feels relatively old school compared to its main rivals the Xbox One and PS4. The replacements of which are coming this holiday season, and if recent reports are to be believed; so too could a Switch successor.
With this in mind we can see why Dell/Alienware may choose now to unveil this concept. As games consoles become more powerful and closer to gaming PCs, Alienware’s place in the world does start to diminish. In the past Alienware have produced gaming desktops but their main draw has been their ‘desktop replacements’. These are gaming laptops that offer the same level of power but with the added portability of a laptop. With things like the Nintendo Switch, Project xCloud and Sony’s remote play plans, are gaming laptops still relevant in 2020? It may be a case of evolve or die for Alienware.
The console has its own versions of ‘joy cons’. Detachable sides that can also be used a controller for TV gaming. Critics have argued that the UFO system has ripped off the Nintendo Switch, but let’s be fair; Nintendo made TV/handheld hybrid gaming a success. But they didn’t think of it. Companies from Sony, Sega, Microsoft and even Apple have experimented with such ideas in the past. One could argue that the Switch is what Sony’s remote play should have looked like.
Of course Nintendo get the credit for the Switch, but that console won’t be the last TV/handheld hybrid we see. We imagine now that the idea may well become a staple of gaming for every company going forward. Alienware may just be the next to capitalise. We’ll keep you posted with further updates regarding the Alienware UFO.