The Phantom (game system)

The Phantom (game system)

The Phantom was a controversial video game console that was under development by Phantom Entertainment, formerly Infinium Labs. The cancelled device was supposedly planned to be capable of playing current and future PC games, giving the system a massive initial game library and making it easier for developers to produce games for the system. The system was supposedly designed to use a direct-download content delivery service instead of the discs and cartridges used by most game consoles.


= Announcement = In 2002, the startup company Infinium Labs issued a press release to all news outlets stating that they would soon release a "revolutionary new gaming platform" that would offer an on-demand video game service, delivering games via an online subscription. The press release contained no specific information, but did include a computer-generated prototype design. Due to the excessive use of buzzwords and a suspicious lack of details, the product was derided almost from the start by news sites such as IGN and Slashdot and the popular comic strip "Penny Arcade". In an episode that gained wide publicity, the hardware and gaming site [H] ard|OCP researched and wrote an extensive article on the company and the operation, and faced a defensive lawsuit in turn. It also received the first place in "Vaporwares 2004" in Wired News. [cite news|first=Leander|last=Kahney|url=,1284,66195-4,00.html?tw=wn_story_page_next3 |title=Vaporware Phantom Haunts Us All|publisher=Wired News|date=2005-01-07|accessdate=2006-05-17]

Rise and fall of the console

The Phantom was first seen in action at the May 2004 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) as a working prototype. Infinium Labs claimed it would go on sale that November for the holiday season, however the company still had not developed the online delivery software, licensed games or found any retailers. The company missed all those deadlines, while at the same time sending thousands of faxes claiming the system would be ready and launched in January 2005.

When that deadline passed, Infinium predicted the system's release to be around March 2005. That date passed and Infinium Labs did not appear at the 2005 E3. [cite news|first=Chris|last=Morris|url=|title=Whither the Phantom? After a big splash in 2004, Infinium Labs' on-demand game service is nowhere to be found at E3|publisher=CNN/Money|date=2005-05-19|accessdate=2006-05-17] There were hints from Kevin Bachus, former Infinium CEO, that the Phantom would be released around the same time as the Xbox 360 in Autumn 2005, but that date was also missed.

On February 21, 2006 it was reported that The Phantom video game console has been delayed indefinitely "pending further funding".Fact|date=February 2007

As of August 15, 2006, the Phantom Console is not listed on the Products page of the website and has been cancelled. However, the Phantom website does indicate that a software component of the Phantom, the Phantom Game Service, is now under development for the Windows XP operating system comparable to Valve's Steam. [{url=|title=Phantom transmogrifies - GameSpot}] .

Financial Problems

The Phantom has controversy in both the gaming and business worlds due to the constant pushing back of its release date and a number of financial scandals involving Phantom Entertainment. Phantom Entertainment has lost more than $62.7 million since its creation in its efforts to create the Phantom Console.cite news | title=Infinium opens the books | publisher=GameSpot | date=2006-02-21 | url= | first=Brendan|last=Sinclair | accessdate=2006-04-09] On February 21, 2006, the Phantom was delayed indefinitely until Phantom Entertainment obtained more funding.

On May 16, 2006, the Securities and Exchange Commission accused Phantom Entertainment founder and former CEO Timothy Roberts of running a "pump and dump" scheme in promoting The Phantom console in 2004. [cite news|first=Chris|last=Morris|url= |title='Phantom' video game CEO charged with pump and dump scheme|publisher=CNN/Money|date=2006-05-16|accessdate=2006-05-17] Some game enthusiasts find the name Phantom appropriate, as it has allusions to the common programming jargon known as "vaporware".

On July 20, 2006, Infinium Labs announced that they are changing the name of their company to Phantom Entertainment. Phantom Entertainment has planned to launch some new products, such as the Phantom Lapboard, followed by the Phantom Game Service. The Lapboard is supposed to rotate 360 degrees with the mouse on the lower level.cite news | title="Infinium Labs' Name Change Takes Effect; Phantom(R) Entertainment, Inc. Begins Trading as PHEI on OTC Bulletin Board publisher=PRNewswire|date=2006-07-24 | url= | accessdate = 2006-08-01]

On July 23, 2008, Phantom Entertaiment announced that John Landino is to become the new CEO of the company. [] and on August 11, 2008, Phantom Entertainment entered into an asset purchase agreement with Phantom Game Service, Inc., a Delaware corporation [] .


The Phantom Lapboard was nominated at the 2004 E3 show for the "BEST OF SHOW" category, and has recently been ordered by Alienware for their Media Center PCs, and a manufacturing contract has been signed to fulfil their order with the manufacturer Itron Technology.Fact|date=June 2007On January 3, 2006, Infinium Labs announced that the "Phantom Lapboard" component of the console, which is a keyboard and mouse designed to be held on the lap (for use, for example, seated on a couch in front of a television), was due to be released onto online retailers by the second quarter of 2006. [cite news|first=Brendan|last=Sinclair|url= |title=Phantom Lapboard coming to PCs|publisher=GameSpot|date=2006-01-03|accessdate=2006-05-17] On April 19, 2006, Infinium Labs announced that the keyboard would not be released in time for Q2 2006, but that the device, manufactured by Itron Technology, would be released in North America and Europe "no later than October" of 2006. [cite news|first=James|last=Orry|url=|title=Phantom Lapboard delayed|publisher=Pro-G|date=2006-05-18|accessdate=2006-05-18] The keyboard was then delayed until November 2006. [ [ Phantom transmogrifies - News at GameSpot ] ] On August 22, 2007, Phantom Entertainment signed a deal with ProGames network to provide Lapboards and "Game Service Content" in hotels worldwide. [cite web | url = | title = Phantom Entertainment Signs with ProGames Network to Place Phantom® Lapboard and Game Service Content in Hotels Worldwide | work = BusinessWire | date = 2007-08-22 | accessdate = 2007-08-23 ] The keyboard was finally released on June 23 2008, [cite web | url = | title = Phantom Lapboard - Gizmodo | date = 2008-04-25 | accessdate = 2008-08-18 ] two years after its originally planned release date.

System specifications

At the 2004 E3, Infinium Labs released several new details regarding The Phantom's proposed hardware and functions.

Gaming service

Infinium Labs announced at 2004's E3 that the Phantom would use a direct-download content delivery service. By connecting the system to a broadband Internet connection, Phantom owners would be able to purchase games through the system's interface and have the game downloaded directly onto the unit's hard drive. Also, a subscription plan would be available. With the subscription (available in two-year contracts), people could pay a $29.95 monthly fee, allowing them to get the actual Phantom unit for free and to download a selected number of games for free each month.


As of May 2004, The Phantom's proposed hardware specifications were:
* CPU: AMD Athlon XP 2500+
* Video card: Nvidia GeForce FX 5700 Ultra, with 128 MB RAM
* RAM: 256 MB
* Hard drive: 40 GB "local content cache"
* Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio
* Control: Custom game pad and keyboard-mouse combination unit called a "lapboard".
* "'Wireless modules will be used to support a wireless lapboard and game pad.In August 2005, G4TV's "Attack of the Show" program featured Kevin Bachus, Infinium's then CEO and President. Bachus stated during the interview that the current hardware specifications for the Phantom would have to be changed, as computer games require more and more hardware to run smoothly. Host Kevin Pereira asked if the console was actually going to market, making a reference to a previous console he had pre-ordered which then turned out to be vaporware. Bachus assured him that the Phantom product was viable. [cite web|url=|title=Attack of the Show: Does the Phantom Live?|year=2005|month=June]

The newest version of the console was supposedly designed by the industrial design firm Teague.


External links

* [ The Phantom's Official Site]
* [ PHEI Official Blog]
* [ The Phantom Game Service site]
* [ Phantom: Rewound] – Editorial feature with a history of The Phantom.
* [{A73F50D0-5FAF-4FB7-83E8-B9D054522A5F} Video Interview of Kevin Bachus by Marketwatch]

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