After delaying the launch of a crowdfunding campaign a few months ago, Atari says it’s just about ready to launch its new game console. It’s also giving the product a new name.
Goodbye Ataribox. Hello Atari VCS.
Atari hasn’t announced detailed specs or pricing information yet, but the company had previously indicated that its upcoming game console would basically be a Linux-powered PC with an x86 processor that could play both retro games (including classic Atari titles) and newer games.
It also has iconic Atari-style design including an optional wood panel model and a classic Atari joystick, although a more traditional Xbox-like game controller is also shown in the latest press materials.
Basically it’s a mid-range PC that looks like an Atari device and which is meant to fit into your living room decor. It should be able to handle basic gaming, and I suspect it’ll have a customized version of Linux designed to highlight the device’s gaming capabilities, although it can also be used for social media, streaming video, and other tasks.
Last we’d heard, the computer was expected to have a starting price in the $250 to $300 range, although there may be multiple configurations, so a top-of-the-line model might cost more than that.
The company is showing off Atari VCS prototypes at the Game Developers Conference later this week.
At $300 it would be priced the same as a Nintendo Switch or PS4, but without all the popular game titles. No thanks.
I don’t know what question to ask first, because I don’t even know what this is trying to do.
Well, Atari is still a widely recognized brand, and retro-gaming is on the rise these days, so they want to sell consoles. Since they don’t want to sell it at a loss, the machine inside is probably worth less, than $2-300. They don’t publish full-priced exclusive games for this, so we can be sure it’s not like Nintendo or MS, who sells machines at a loss and make it back on the games. It’s an x86, and linux to boot, so piracy would be a big concern if they were trying to do exclusives.
My guess is an AppoloLake CPU and a modded retro-pie image, that would cover emulation from the 2600 to the PS2 / Wii.
It is to be assumed that they are trying to make a retro gaming machine, but my question is, “What is their angle”?
They made very vague claims of playing old retro titles, as well as “newer games”.
Are they going to try to attract major developers? Indie developers?
With system specs like an Apollo Lake, I don’t see this thing attracting any big dev companies. Maybe we’ll see a Stardew Valley port, and a few other similar indie games.
Atari, tell me what you’re trying to achieve with this! If it is just going to play Retro Atari titles, you could do that with about $30 of hardware.
Ataribox scammers back again.
Doesn’t seem like a scam.
But whether it will be any good and worth actually buying is the real question.
At minimum it needs support for Steam and a handful of games optimized to run on it in the hopes that it is the Steam console that should have been.
Can a $300 or so gaming console be as good of a general purpose Linux machine as a $200 ChromeBox? If so the gaming optimizations might be worth the extra $100.
But if the performance is more like a Raspberry Pi then there is no way it will make sense.
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