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The Atari VCS is a retro-inspired game console that’s also basically a cheap, low-power Linux computer designed to look like an Atari console from the 1980s.

It was also something of a flop – early reviews weren’t particularly flattering, and in its most recent earnings report, Atari says sales of VCS consoles and cartridges fell “from €2.3M to €0.2M, primarily resulting from cartridge activity and underperformance by the VCS” compared with the previous half of the year. So the company is shifting its strategy.

In a nutshell, the company says its suspending “existing VCS manufacturing contracts.”

That doesn’t mean the company is getting  out of hardware altogether – the report also suggests Atari is planning to implement “a new commercial strategy for VCS” and to launch “a complementary hardware strategy via partnerships and under licensing agreements.”

In other words, we could see third-party joysticks, controllers, and other accessories for the VCS. Or Atari could license its name for use on other game systems.

Meanwhile the company plans to continue launching new “premium games” based on Atari’s intellectual property… and to cash in on some of that IP with “new NFT initiatives” and other blockchain-related projects. sigh

Meanwhile, folks who actually want to get their hands on an Atari VCS system can pick one up at a discount. They’re selling for 20% off at Atari.com, bringing the starting price down to $160 for a VCS console alone or $240 for an all-in-one bundle that also include a joystick and a modern controller.

via MiniMachines

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  1. I had mine pre-ordered about a year prior to receiving it just before launch. Two stick, two pads, etc. Wasn’t impressed with the speed, but I still enjoyed the unit in Atari mode, and it made Vampire Hunter’s so fun on a 65″ TV 😁 What I figured they would do is offer an Atari official upgrade module to allow an external graphics card. So sad they couldn’t have done something like Valve has done with the deck in terms of power; this would definitely not be happening if they did R&D up until it releases and picked a better chip. Sad to see you go, buy I’ve got mine. It’s slow, it’s janky, but it’s still pretty fun.

    1. Sorry Vampire Survivors, and that was on PC mode with Steam. This is actually still a valid device to stream games locally to your big screens in PC mode, but there are much much cheaper (free-er) options. Emulation was pretty solid, but I can get that out of a Pi. I was given the option from my wife of this, Xbox, or PS/5. I immediately said Atari VCS – I dropped out of consoles decades ago because PCs eat them up, but the Atari holds sentimental value to me. I’ve owned every piece of hardware they have ever produced with exception of a Transporter, and about 5 or 6 other obscure systems/add ons. While the Atari name has bounced around like a bullrider, and probably no one involved in the real machines they made, I still love seeing that name and logo! Nostalgia won for me, and probably will again even if the next console they work on is slow and dated.

  2. First off use the old 2600 layout and have the game preloaded on the system. Then the new games do a ea’s origin layout…. or try an use 2 drives that would play Xbox and ps5 games 1 unit plays all games from any system… I don’t know what the game code is between Xbox and Playstation. But should be able to incorporate all 3 game consoles into 1 2600 plus a computer all in 1 would be awesome

  3. This is situation where they shot themselves in the foot. Going with AMD was a great choice but going with a 2c4t processor was a poor choice. They limited their emulation capabilities with the 3 CU GPU and cut the customer base by more than half. I would have bought one of these in a second if it had a 4c/8t or 8c/16t option.

  4. I got one of the All-in bundles on Black Friday and have been pretty impressed with it so far. I added a 512GB SSD, upgraded RAM to 16GB, updated the CPU cooler from a thermal pad to good paste, and installed Windows 11. I view it as a NUC in a very cool case, and am planning on setting it up in my garage to control my 3D printer and do some light gaming. The controllers were OK; I like the idea of the joystick as spinner, but the implementation wasn’t great.

    1. The problem is that most people don’t want to spent $300 on a console that they have to then spend a couple.of hundred more to upgrade it . In the end you end up spending a ridiculous amount of money for something that will not play a game like crysis

  5. Well, $160 for a Ryzen 1606G with 8GB of RAM and user upgradeable SSD does not sound too bad, should be a pretty competent emulation station for PS/2 and Wii era stuff.

  6. It was DOA the day they priced it the same as a XboX Series S if you wanted a controller,

    1. If I remember correctly, it costed the same as a Series S WITHOUT the controllers. With controllers it costed the same as Digital PS5.

      1. Honestly, they should jump on the miniature nostalgia bandwagon and make a mini-atari preloaded with a ton of games with a $80-100 price point.

        I’d bet that would have been a for greater success than trying to relaunch Atari hardware for the modern age.

  7. I’m a bit surprised Atari was still manufacturing these. Here, I thought they were still selling off the initial batch.

  8. I didn’t even finish reading the article before I clicked on the link…and picked the basic Onyx model.

    Total was 164.94(with shipping) at checkout.

    Best,
    Steven B.(Liquid Cool

      1. Hey man, it’s fundamentally just a general purpose x86 computer that you can put any operating system on. There’s a lot of things you could use it for or with, and you don’t know exactly what he’s got in mind.
        It’d make a perfectly adequate dedicated conference room PC for example. Put a softphone on it and it still costs less than most conference room phones.