Hello! I wanted to start a new and separate thread about the in-development Atari VCS that would focus on the latest information. My intention is to keep the original post updated so folks looking for a quick overview can find it.
This thread is not meant to provide an outlet for people to bash the current Atari company, nor insult people who might be interested in this mid-spec PC for your television. People are welcome to have their opinion, and we've certainly seen a lot of varying opinions on the legitimacy of the console, but ultimately time will tell. There's a massive thread here that has long served as a place for people to criticize the current Atari, and moderators have largely allowed the thread to be used as an anti-VCS rant and troll thread, so if you want to talk about how much you dislike the new VCS, or bash the people interested in it, please consider doing so there.
The Atari VCS is aimed at bringing a blend of a PC-like experience and a multimedia home center to your television, similar to other current consoles on the market like the Playstation 4 and Xbox One. Atari claims it will provide both a modern and classic gaming experience in addition to being a place to watch video services and streamed content.
The project began its public life in June 2017 under the name Ataribox, and the company initially intended to offer an IndieGoGo funding campaign in December of 2017. However, that funding campaign was halted at the last minute (PC Gamer Link) in order to further develop the console and controllers. At the 2018 Game Developers Conference, Atari Interactive gave attendees with press credentials an opportunity to view a model of the console and retro controller, but did not have video to display, nor allow for hands-on demonstrations. Shortly before the GDC began, Atari Interactive formally announced the now-renamed Atari VCS in a press release here.
In the March 19th announcement, the Atari VCS prototype was shared through promotional photographs, and the company mentioned that it would contain both a Classic Joystick with an updated 2600-controller-type look, and a Modern Controller, which looks similar in design and functionality to an Xbox-style controller. The company announced that it would have pre-order information in April.
In late April, Atari Interactive issued a new press release (here) announcing that an IndieGogo fundraising campaign would begin on May 30th, and feature a time-limited Atari VCS Collector's Edition that included a retro-inspired wood front. In addition to the Collector's Edition, the company has said it will offer for pre-order the Atari VCS Onyx, which looks similar to the Collector's Edition, but has a black "Vader"-like front.
The company claims the VCS is being designed in California by Atari. Atari has partnered with AMD to provide a custom Radeon Graphics Technology processor (x86) for the VCS which will offer 4k resolution, HDR, 60 FPS content, onboard and expandable storage options, dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0, and USB 3.0 support. The company claims it will provide a complete list of product specs with the pre-sale on May 30th. The company stated in a GDC FAQ that the console will have an, "x86 PC architecture with a proprietary Linux OS that will allow for a flexible content mix and give customers access to interact with the whole internet. This means more games, media and streaming content, as well as communication with other PCs and the ability to fully customize the experience." The company has also said they believe the console will offer Steam and other Linux-based storefront support.
The VCS will also include the compilation Atari Vault, currently available for PC, which features more than 100 classic games, both Atari arcade games and 2600 games.
The company says there will be a "Time-Limited Early Bird Pre-Sale Package" starting at $199. The company has claimed in interviews (example here) that the console outside of its time-limited pre-sale is expected to cost between $249 and $299 depending on the package.
The Classic Joystick and Modern Controller are being developed in partnership with Power A, a third-party provider of controllers, accessories, and power units for most modern consoles.
Atari Interactive has announced that it will offer an IndieGogo fundraising and pre-order campaign on May 30th. The campaign will feature a time-limited Atari VCS Collector's Edition with a wood-grain front panel in addition to a "Vader"-like VCS Onyx. The time limit for the wood grain VCS was not specified. The company has said that other packages will include the Classic Joystick and Modern Controller. The company has also said that the controllers will also be available as standalone purchases. The company claims that it intends to begin shipping the VCS in Spring of 2019.
The IndieGoGo page can currently be found here.
Links to AtariVCS official sites
Atari Interactive stated in a FAQ provided to the press at GDC:
What makes the Atari VCS different from Nintendo’s NES or SNES Classic retro consoles? Or even the Ouya? Also, why do we need another microconsole?
The Atari VCS is a completely new Atari device designed for today’s living room that will include PC and online entertainment-driven features that distinguish it from these other products. Atari VCS will of course serve up lots of classic content. But it will do and play much more, and can complement other “retro-boxes” or “microconsoles” that consumers may already have in their homes.
Why release a new console after a twenty year pause in a market now dominated by Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft?
The original Atari 2600 Video Computer System reinvented the home entertainment experience more than 40 years ago by transforming our relationship with our TVs. We saw an opportunity to do that again with a new Atari VCS that brings PC versatility to the living room.
There is a lot of community speculation as to the legitimacy of Atari's plans, but it is likely the company is hoping to garner enough interest that it can raise the necessary funds during the IndieGoGo campaign to build and deliver the console. The company has stated the console will offer both classic Atari in addition to more modern gaming, along with streaming media network support. While the company used GDC to communicate with various game development companies, few announcements have so far been made outside of the intention to release Jeff Minter's Tempest 4000, which arrives this summer to other consoles.
In regard to development, Atari stated in its GDC FAQ, "Atari will publish, verify and deliver first and third party game IP and other software through the proprietary Atari VCS UI. Users will also have a “sandbox” with the ability to bring a wide variety of outside and “homebrew” content to the platform."
Since the console is Linux-based with a standard x86 architecture, USB 3.0, and Bluetooth support, it is likely that the modding community will be able to make use of the hardware as well.
I will endeavor to keep this original post updated, and would again encourage people to not use this thread to serve as another place to bash Atari and the new VCS. I have also attached some press release images and the GDC FAQ. The current Press Kit including images not linked below can be found here. Thanks!