After rumors and speculation, Atari announced last year that its new console retro, called the Atari VCS, was already available for pre-order exclusively on IndieGogo. The concept caught the attention of many people who supported the project through this site, which managed to surpass its goal of $100,000 dollars in a matter of hours. People who grew up playing Atari were excited. The estimated delivery date was July 2019. Then came July… but the console does not.
The original plan
The first major step in the project to return to the business of the consoles was called the Atari VCS, a device with which you could play the classic Atari. For $299 usd (plus shipping costs) for the Atari VCS promising the collection of ‘Atari Vault’ of more than 100 classic games, including arcade and entertainment as Asteroids, Centipede, Breakout and Missile Command. The “VCS” in the name stands for Video Computer System, the same name given to the Atari 2600 before the launch of the console Atari 5200 in march of 1982.
With a design that evokes the Atari classic of simpler times, this console would be a open platform only, giving users access to a “sandbox” of Linux to add their own software and customize your system. Also have connectivity peripheral the universal to work with other input devices of PC, as drivers Bluetooth and USB, mouse and keyboard, web cams, microphone, speakers, external headphones. Also would accept 4K content, HDR and 60FPS, options cloud storage, WiFi dual band and Bluetooth 5.0, as well as support for USB 3.0.
The VCS, initially presented as the “Ataribox” in 2017, will be reintroduced with its new name at the Game Developers Conference in 2018. At the conference, Atari showed the final design, meant to evoke memories of the classic Atari 2600, as well as two controls: a gamepad quite stylish with a design style Xbox and another one almost identical to the iconic control.
And what happened then?
This week, the website The Register published a report detailing that the project was “a disaster”, which I could never see the light, and – most discouraging – that the person in charge of this, Rob Wyatt (one of the creators of the Xbox) had abandoned him. “From Friday, 4 October, I have resigned officially as the architect of the Atari VCS,” said Wyatt to the portal. The reason was that Atari had six months without paying a dime to your design firm, Tin Giant, for the work I was doing at the console. “Being a small company, we have been fortunate to survive so long,” he said.
According to The Register, the console actually would end up being something like a PC with a Linux that could be used for games, as the executives of Atari refused to approve the development of a new operating system. In addition, according to the report, the controls (sold separately) may not work consistently between one game and another, as each title decides how you want to operate the console, so that would have to be restarting the system each time that it is intended to change the game. All the problems that have arisen, they say, is due to the fact that the company insists on cutting spending. In case outside little, to two years of started the project, not a single developer of original games has joined.
On the same day of the publication of The Register, Atari published a long report with data and many photographs detailing the progress of the project and noting that the company still has a lot to do before you can change the status to “Prototype” to “Production”, but ensuring that they are every day closer and, in a few words, that everything is going well. In this document it is mentioned that the product launch will take place in the spring of 2020. We want to believe that so be it; we will have to wait and see what happens. We’ll keep you informed.
*Article updated on October 11, 2019 by Aron Covaliu.
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