The Intellivision Amico is a home console in development by Intellivision Entertainment - a new company who acquired the Intellivision brand in 2018.
The console is named after the Italian word for 'friend'. The console is intended to be simple and family friendly - games are designed to be small, cheap, suitable for children and have no online multiplayer, in-app purchases or DLC.
The console has had a troubled history - numerous delays, a lack of clear information on the console, its games and its production process, and inflammatory and contradictory public statements made by Intellivision Entertainment's former CEO (now CCO) Tommy Tallarico.
In a financial filing made in early 2022, Intellivision stated to potential investors that the console's manufacturing depends on more crowdfunding and may never be released.
The console design is a shallow rounded box shape with an indented area that can house 2 controllers for charging (via contact pins on the console and controllers), as well as for placing game NFC cards onto.
Intellivision has not revealed the hardware specs are, but they wrote in their developer portal info that it will be similar to a low-end smartphone released in 2016 and that its OS will be based on Android.
The unique controllers are meant to be a newer twist on the original Intellivision controllers, featuring a directional disc, touchscreen, shoulder buttons and motion sensors. Games will also be able to be controlled by a mobile phone via an Intellivision app.
Intellivision claims that every game for the system will be an NFT, but have not elaborated on the technical details.
Announcement and SKUs
The system was first announced on 22nd October 2018 at the Portland Retro Gaming Expo, with a scheduled release date of 10th October 2020 and an estimated retail price of $149-179.
Pre-orders began in January 2020 with a refundable $100 deposit. At the time pre-orders were released and currently, the price is $249.99 - $299.99 depending on the console, significantly higher than the original estimated price.
From January 2020 - March 2022, the console was offered in 4 different colours, each available at different stores at different price points:
- Graphite Black or Glacier White - $249.99 / £249.99 / €279.99
- Vintage Woodgrain - $289.99 (exclusive to Intellivision.com)
- Galaxy Purple - $299.99 (exclusive to GameStop)
Each of these consoles will come with 2 controllers and 6 pack-in games.
GameStop Stops pre-orders, Second price increase
In April 2022, GameStop US refunded pre-order deposits and stopped selling the console. Intellivision announced that the price of new pre-orders would be increased again and start with only one controller, but no deposit would be required.
In addition, they would now offer Galaxy Purple pre-orders as GameStop were no longer selling them, but Black and White pre-orders would no longer be taken for the meantime:
- Galaxy Purple or Vintage Woodgrain console with 1 controller - $289.99
- Galaxy Purple or Vintage Woodgrain console with 2 controllers - $339.99
These consoles will still come with 6 pack-in games.
The console's release has been pushed back many times since it's original intended launch date of 10th October 2022. It currently has an undefined release date of sometime in 2022.
Intellivision claims these delays are largely due to COVID-19 related supply chain problems.
Critics have disputed that as the sole reason, citing largely unchanged trailers from 2019-2021 and 2020-2022, a lack of full prototype footage, Intellivision seeking crucial hardware job positions months before their original planned release, a lack of finished software and services, and that similar console projects (such as Atari VCS and Playdate) which were announced at a similar time have already entered production.
These criticisms would eventually corroborated by the company itself - in an SEC filing in early 2022, Intellivision admits there has not yet been a fully-functioning console and that it may never be finished.
On 22 March 2022, after weeks of silence from the company, Intellivision released an 'unboxing' video of a single hand-produced console in packaging. It is not visually confirmed that this is a working prototype and the packaging contained numerous spelling and translation errors. The console is still not in production.
Physical product launch
Intellivision released physical products of the console's launch games on 10th October 2021 - before the manufacture of the console. These were limited edition and contain an RFID card containing an activation code to download the game on an Amico system (when the system comes online for them to be redeemed), a commemorative coin, and a lenticular card. These were only sold in multipacks - $80 for 4 or $150 for the entire collection of 8.
The games available as physical products were (in alphabetical order):
- Brain Duel
- Evel Knievel
- Finnigan Fox
- Missile Command
- Moon Patrol
- Rigid Force Redux Enhanced
Intellivision's e-commerce policy states that these are just physical items and not software licenses until the game becomes available to download.
The system's development has been funded in numerous ways.
Ars Technica investigation
In June 2021, an investigation into an unsecured dev portal of the console showed that the console has a similar computing power to a low-power smartphone from 2016. This means the console seems to have an unusually high profit margin.
These investigations also revealed that in a pitch to angel investors in March 2021, Intellivision Entertainment's then-CEO said they intended to take a cut of 'around 50 percent' cut of all third party games.
J. Allard's involvement in the company
J Allard, co-founder of Xbox, joined the company in May 2020 as Global Managing Director. He left in the summer of 2020, stating that he was 'not a good fit'. When this was revealed in January 2021, former CEO Tommy Tallarico made a comment stating that he was never a full-time employee, only a contractor.
In an investor pitch video recorded in March 2021, Tommy Tallarico said that he was still on their team, leading to the SEC sending a letter asking for clarification..
Potential game asset plagiarism and other game issues
When the company started releasing sneak peeks of games in 2021, one of their games (Battle Tanks) had many visual assets that appear to have been plagiarised from non-commercial image sites and World of Tanks. When this was discovered, the video for the game was edited and relisted twice.
A public demo for Moon Patrol in October 2021 showed copy-pasted text from a Star Fox game.
Company response to criticism
Intellivision Entertainment's former CEO (now CCO), Tommy Tallarico has been known to make inflammatory statements, such as calling critics of the Amico 'gaming racists' and 'mentally unstable' and threatening to take legal action against a journalist who was investigating the console with legally-obtained information. Tallarico has since then stepped down from his role as CEO of Intellivision.
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