|★ PEOPLES ★ Sugar refuses to comment - EXCLUSIVE by Colin Campbell ★|
|Amstrad Plans Cheap Console (New Computer Express)|
Amstrad is secretly developing a games console based on its CPC computer, Express can reveal.
The machine is expected to be launched in April although it has already suffered delays. It was to have been ready before the end of this year but abiding problems with other computers have slowed development down.
A small team of engineers are currently working on the project at Amstrad's Brentwood headquarters. Such is the secrecy of the project that many of the firm's employees don't even know about the console. Those who do have, as always, been instructed not to talk about it.
However, according to details leaked to Express, the developers have been instructed to take the five year old CPC machine apart and reconstruct it as a 256K cartridge based console.
Amstrad is planning to launch it at an entry level price of about £70 with a light gun version costing about £90. Amstrad's boss Alan Sugar has long felt that he should be involved in the imuch predicted console explosion. Japanese giants such as Sega and Nintendo are already preparing for a pitched battle for the British market.
Amstrad's pragmatic approach means that it will not be overly concerned with the technical specification. Rather, the console will be pitched as a true consumer product - more of a toy than a computer.
The unnamed console will be Z80 based, like its CPC parent. New chips to handle extra graphic ansd sound capabilities have been considered although that could cause some problems for existing CPC software.
Hardly surprising, Amstrad is not commenting on this matter. Express put a call through to boss Alan Sugar's direct line. A gruff and unmistakable voice at the other end snapped the answer "no” to a request for a short interview, and then hung up.
A spokesman for the firm commented: “It all sounds very interesting. I can't say I know anything about it. Amstrad are always working on new projects and obviously we can't comment on them.”
The thinking behind using the CPC as the basis for the machine is obvious. There is an absolute mass of software available for it which could easily be converted to cartridge format. Amstrad will, in all probability, sell the console with a cross section of those games.
Whether Amstrad will take a Nintendo type approach to the software is not known. The Japanese giant has made millions from software sales by keeping a tight grip on what is sold. All software comes from Nintendo and this will not have escaped Sugar's attention. The British firm has made a fortune by applying an aggressive Japanese approach to the European marketplace.
Those who argue that Amstrad wants to leave its low end, games orientated image behind may have forgotten that the firm's self proclaimed aim is to make money.
New Computer Express #047 (9/1989)