Atari returns to the living room with the VCS

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During the 2018 Game Developers Conference, Atari announced that the unit would be called the Atari VCS. Pre-orders for the console and controllers started on May 30, 2018 exclusively via Indiegogo, with shipping expected in quarter 2 of 2019; the configurations included the wood-veneer front panel “Collector’s Edition” model, and an all-black with red-orange highlights “Onyx” console model. A base system, consisting of a console and joystick controller ran from $279 to $299. Within the first day, the Atari VCS saw more than US$2.25 million in pre-orders, far exceeding the anticipated US$100 thousand they were seeking to start production.

Atari is introducing a brand new console to the market – its first for many years. Formerly called Ataribox during an initial funding stage, it was renamed the Atari VCS – a throwback to the original name of the Atari 2600 in the 1970s. The system shares a name with Atari, Inc.’s 1977 Video Computer System, usually shortened to VCS, which was renamed to the Atari 2600 in late 1982.

Discover new and classic games on Atari’s new open platform, powered by AMD Ryzen™ with Radeon™ Graphics Technology. Watch your favorite web-based streaming videos and entertainment, and play games at up to 4K resolution and 60fps. Develop new TV-based games and apps for yourself, your family, or to share with the Atari VCS community. Atari’s first connected device opens new possibilities to play with friends and publish your creations as part of an expansive community of gamers, fans and devs.

In terms of inside the box, there are actually two different models, a 400 System and an 800 System. The latter has slightly improved specifications. The Atari VCS will be driven by a Linux operating system. The software is specifically designed to be open to allow users to install other Linux-compatible applications on the Atari VCS alongside pre-installed games, using Atari Vault. Other applications that can be installed include streaming applications, music players, and web browsers.

The current full spec list is as follows:

  • CPU: AMD Raven Ridge 2
  • GPU: Ryzen
  • RAM: 4GB DDR4 (400 System), 8GB DDR4 (800 System) – both are upgradeable
  • Storage: 32GB eMMC and support for external HDD
  • Connections: HDMI 2.0, 2.4/5GHz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, Gigabit Ethernet, 4x USB 3.1
  • HDCP: HDCP 2.2 compliant
  • Operating system: Linux OS based on Ubuntu (Linux Kernel 4.10)
  • Power: Low TDP architecture
  • Weight: 1.36kg
  • Dimensions: 312.42 x 149.86 x 50.8mm

Featuring USB 3.0, HDMI, WiFi™, Ethernet, and Bluetooth® connectivity, the all new Atari VCS™ delivers unprecedented levels of flexibility and control, transforming how we Interact with our TV’s, just as the original Atari 2600 did four decades ago. The powerful AMD Ryzen™ processor featuring Radeon™ Graphics Technology can handle it all, including 4K HDR video streaming.

The original plans were that the Atari VCS would launch with Atari Vault, a 100-plus game collection of classic Atari games like Asteroids, Centipede and Missile Command. However, due to a recent deal with retro cloud gaming specialist Antstream, it has been revealed that the VCS will feature an exclusive version of the Antstream Arcade app that offers 100s of classic games released in the 70s, 80s and 90s – not just on Atari consoles.

INSPIRED BY GREATNESS 

The spirit of the legendary Atari 2600 video computer system is reborn in sleek new high-performance designs for gamers of today, tomorrow and beyond.  

APPS AND GAMES

Enjoy access to all-new games, remastered favorites, classic console emulators, streaming multimedia and personal apps — or create and share your own. Load existing PC game libraries via Sandbox PC mMode and play triple-A and indie favorites too.

BORN TO BE DIFFERENT

Reboot into Sandbox PC Mode and unlock a powerful multimedia PC for unmatched freedom and versatility you can’t get with any other home game system. Install your favorite programs, apps and compatible PC game libraries from Steam, Origin, BattleNet, etc. and play. (Secondary operating system like Windows, Linux, or Chrome not included.)

TOTAL CONTROL

Atari’s iconic joystick is reborn as the new Atari VCS Classic Joystick with new features like rumble, LED light effects and a 2nd fire button to give retro gaming new life. The all new Atari VCS Modern Controller completes the family for full-featured gameplay. Both are Bluetooth® wireless, rechargeable, PC/mobile compatible, and loaded with Atari spirit.

WHY DID WE LAUNCH ATARI VCS ON A CROWDFUND PLATFORM?

The Atari community keeps our brand and legendary lineup of games and hardware alive. Today’s Atari is a progressive company made up of hardcore Atari fans like so many of you.

The all-new Atari VCS project was ideated, created, and developed by Atari to capture the same spirit, heritage, and DNA of the original. It is also well-funded; but we wanted and needed to connect with new fans, while having an open dialog with all of you as we developed this exciting new Atari device. 

The Indiegogo partnership helped reach out to and connect with a highly-engaged community and is a perfect vehicle to directly involve both existing and new Atari fans.

This  crowdfunding strategy helped us verify the community’s interest in and support for a new Atari game system, bring new fans into the fold, and gather the feedback we need to make the Atari VCS the best gaming and entertainment device it can possibly be.

How much does it cost? From $249.99 to $389.99 depending on bundled configurations.

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Research to Action © 2019 Time Network (Canada)