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 new Atari VCS is being created by Atari Interactive, the current holders of the Atari license and brand, through a limited liability corporation called Atari Gamebox LLC. The company was renamed to Atari Interactive from Infogrames in 2003. Wikipedia Link
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 console is compatible with most standard PC and bluetooth controllers. From the IndiGoGo page:
USE YOUR OWN PERIPHERALS AND ACCESSORIES
Atari VCS provides universal peripheral connectivity, so it also works just as well with your other PC input devices, including:
- Bluetooth and USB game controllers
- Mouse and Keyboard
- External Storage
- External Speakers
The listed tech specs are (from the IndieGoGo page):
The controllers are both Bluetooth and USB-C connected. 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. It is currently unclear if the controllers will feature a paddle-like potentiometer for games like Pong. Two press outlets made the claim that the classic joystick could rotate, but when asked about it on IndieGoGo, Atari said that while it was possible, they stopped short of confirming that functionality would be included.
On June 27th, 2018, Atari announced that they have contracted Rob Wyatt and his company Tin Giant to provide platform architecture support.
Updated 6/30/18: The campaign has ended (sorta) with $2,985,205 raised. HOWEVER, the campaign has shifted into an InDemand project on IndieGoGo, meaning that people can still back the project indefinitely. After an initial large number of people backing, the remainder of the campaign struggled to get much backing at all, indicating that the pool of those interested and willing to back the project went in at the start, and Atari struggled to convince others to back for the remainder of the campaign. The listed timeline for the project remains unchanged.
Updated: The May 30th IndieGoGo launch happened, and quickly hit its extremely-low flexible funding goal of $100,000. The campaign has so far raised more than $2 million. There is a limited-time offer (until 6/4/18) of a $199 black "Onyx" console with no accessories, and a $299 limited-time (6/11/18) Collector's edition featuring a wood grain version with a classic controller. Other packages are available, and the controllers both classic and modern are available separately.
Update 6/25/18: With four days left in the campaign, Atari has raised a little more than $2.9 Million from a little more than 11,000 backers. While there was a lot of interest and backing activity in the first week, the number of backers slowed dramatically, and has remained very low.
The IndiGoGo campaign will last for about a month, until about 7/1.
The IndieGogo page lists a July 2019 delivery date for backers, and has a Q2 2019 "Pre-Orders Arrive" date on the page's timeline.
The IndieGoGo page can 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."
Atari has this to say from its IndieGoGo page regarding developer submissions:
There are a few steps to getting your game submitted and ready for sale on the Atari VCS. Below is a high-level preliminary overview of the key steps in submitting your game for distribution:
We will ask you to complete and sign the online agreement; once we have the business items out of the way, you will need to tell us all about your game. We will need to know the standard details for the title – things like game type, languages, release date, ratings, etc. via the online submission form. Once the product information has been supplied, you can upload the latest build of your game to the Atari VCS submissions portal.
After you submit your game, we will review and test your game for compatibility, and check that it is working correctly on the platform. We will also review your game to be sure it contains no objectionable content such as pornography, hate speech, offensive content, malware, illegal, libelous material or content that you do not have rights to. The Atari VCS team will work to move through this process as quickly as possible and will notify you when your game is approved for release. From there, and if approved, the game will be distributed to legions of new fans across the globe!
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. From the IndieGoGo page they say:
Access the Linux Sandbox, add more storage via cloud or USB, run multiple operating systems at once, load Homebrew games or customize your own unique platform.
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!
Miscellaneous updates and info:
Atari Connected Devices COO Michael Arzt did a pretty interesting (and long!) video interview with Gamertag Radio here for Episode 767, published June 3rd, 2018.
A newly-released Q&A on Medium.com comes from recently-hired System Architect Rob Wyatt. It's got some interesting info for people looking to get into the tech detail, how open the console can be, how it can be used, and how people can develop/release their games on it:
On other controller support:
"To ease the burden for applications using game controllers, the AtariOS will have standardized controller support which includes a built-in controller remapping tool. This tool will allow you to remap physical controller buttons to logical standardized buttons, remap analog inputs and apply curves to get the exact response and feel you want, as well as allow for the “lefty” joystick that some have asked us for. This tool will let you use any controller and the applications always see a standard controller with your own button mapping. The button mapping data can be stored per controller, per user and/or per game and can also be exported and shared with other users."
Possible AR/VR Support:
"Not much to say at this time, other than we have AR/VR plans but it will be an after-launch feature. More info to come on this somewhere down the road."
On development for it:
"We won’t have dedicated development hardware. You won’t need it. Any Atari VCS device can be a development kit. All you will have to do is sign up to our developer program, download the SDK and start creating. If you don’t want to develop in native code then common game engine platforms will be available for the VCS.
To get an application into the Atari Store there will be a few technical requirements and rules as to what is permissible. As with other curated stores indecent and offensive material will be prohibited. All content will be appropriately age rated and subject to parental controls to ensure users of all ages only see decent and quality applications. Atari is a neutral partner and we have no say in what applications get developed or when an application gets released, you are free to develop any application you like as long as it’s within our guidelines.
At this time the developer program is not open yet and it will come online in the coming months. If you have an application in mind you can start today, make sure it runs on Linux at HD resolution using standard runtime libraries, the changes from this to the AtariOS will be minimal and mostly related to application startup and application packaging. In the very near future we will release documentation on the AtariOS which will detail all the runtime components we support as well as libraries for Linux that mimic the AtariOS."
Edited by Mockduck, Yesterday, 5:35 PM.