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The Atari VCS Controversy Thread

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Now that it's out, I would like to hear from the system's proponents what will now drive system sales. We're still looking at a system that have fewer than 10,000 units in the wild. It IS getting very modest developer support thanks to the low barrier to entry, but very little, if anything, that's exclusive and certainly nothing that would move consoles outside of its super niche.

 

It's a genuine question - still after all these years I'm trying to figure out why this exists beyond its appeal to a super niche logo/tinkerer consumer. I have yet to hear any type of remotely satisfying answer. And if it's just something to appeal to the niche logo/tinkerer consumer and selling <20,000 units best case is the goal/acceptable, then that's of course fine, but that doesn't seem to be the case with many of the platform's proponents. 

 

And for those who say "the price will drop," how do you figure? The economies of scale aren't there. That's why what modest hardware is in there is priced the way it is. It's kind of a catch-22. You need big numbers to drop the price to make it more appealing, but it's not going to be more appealing for what it is without a notable price drop. Unfortunately, outside of clearance pricing, which means the platform is dead, I just don't see the scenario where the price will be able to drop enough to make any difference.

Ultimately, just like the proponents are gloating that the console achieved the major milestone of actually being released and "what do the haters have to say now?," they'll similarly blame all the skeptics for the platform's inevitable failure. That's just the way these things go.

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23 minutes ago, Bill Loguidice said:

 

Ultimately, just like the proponents are gloating that the console achieved the major milestone of actually being released and "what do the haters have to say now?," they'll similarly blame all the skeptics for the platform's inevitable failure. That's just the way these things go.

I'm just curious how we arrived at the point where merely being sent from a factory to the public was a mark of success.  It wasn't for the Jaguar.  Or the 3do.  Or the CDi.  Somehow a console merely existing means it's awesome?

 

Should this be dubbed "The Kennedy Effect?"

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31 minutes ago, Bill Loguidice said:

Ultimately, just like the proponents are gloating that the console achieved the major milestone of actually being released and "what do the haters have to say now?," they'll similarly blame all the skeptics for the platform's inevitable failure. That's just the way these things go.

Yes.  I put it this way in mid-2019:

 

On 6/11/2019 at 5:11 PM, jaybird3rd said:

The argument hasn't been that they will release *nothing*, but that what they finally *do* release will fail to live up to the hype, because "Atari" does not have the necessary talent or resources to create anything sufficiently different from other alternatives to justify the $3M that they raised from crowdfunding. When "that Ataribox?" finally does shipwhatever it ends up beingand when the True Believers inevitably claim that this somehow "proves the naysayers wrong," they will only be setting up a straw man.

 

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12 minutes ago, godslabrat said:

I'm just curious how we arrived at the point where merely being sent from a factory to the public was a mark of success.  It wasn't for the Jaguar.  Or the 3do.  Or the CDi.  Somehow a console merely existing means it's awesome?

 

Should this be dubbed "The Kennedy Effect?"

 

That was kind of my point. Certain proponents are picking and choosing the comments from a select few that it would never even be released and apply it to the entirety of the "not 100% supportive" crowd, including those of us who thought it would be released but didn't have a good "why?" for the whole project. My assumption is that that same broad and inaccurate stroke will be applied to the "not 100% supportive" crowd as THE reason for the platform's inevitable failure to catch on.

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53 minutes ago, Bill Loguidice said:

That was kind of my point. Certain proponents are picking and choosing the comments from a select few that it would never even be released and apply it to the entirety of the "not 100% supportive" crowd, including those of us who thought it would be released but didn't have a good "why?" for the whole project. My assumption is that that same broad and inaccurate stroke will be applied to the "not 100% supportive" crowd as THE reason for the platform's inevitable failure to catch on.

I agree.  Thinking back to mid-2019, it wasn't hard to predict at that time—and even earlier—that there would be multiple delays and that the eventual release would be trumpeted as some sort of massive victory by the True Believers.  (And yes, the idea that nothing would ever ship was never the majority opinion, even among the most skeptical critics.)  Of course, we couldn't have predicted COVID-19, which has made finishing and releasing *anything* into a Herculean effort even for those who do everything right ... but still, managing to finally ship the console is a minimal first step, not the culminating fulfillment of the promised vision.

 

The "hype" I was referring to earlier was all the Indiegogo talk about how we would "Game, Stream, Connect Like Never Before" and how this console would somehow transform our living rooms.  Notice, however, that the proponents didn't even wait for the release to start walking that back; their argument has apparently shifted to "But it was always meant to be a limited-run collector's item made for tinkering hobbyists who like pretty logos!  Why is that so wrong?"  With expectations lowered that much, almost anything (that didn't catch fire on powerup) would have exceeded them ... but if they were honest, and less emotionally invested, most of these people would admit that they would not have backed it if they knew at the start that this was all they'd be getting.  There's not enough value there to make it worth the price point, at least for anyone who wasn't already predisposed to buy it for their own sentimental reasons, and certainly not enough to build anything like a sustainable mainstream user community.

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I'll admit I am surprised they actually managed to release something.  I will also say, that while the product is not for me, and I have bashed it worse than any dead horse, I am glad that it seems to be making the people who backed it happy.  I won't deny anybody their fun - after all, video games are just that - games.

 

That being said, I'll not be able to stop talking smack about this turd :)

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1 hour ago, Bill Loguidice said:

 

That was kind of my point. Certain proponents are picking and choosing the comments from a select few that it would never even be released and apply it to the entirety of the "not 100% supportive" crowd, including those of us who thought it would be released but didn't have a good "why?" for the whole project. My assumption is that that same broad and inaccurate stroke will be applied to the "not 100% supportive" crowd as THE reason for the platform's inevitable failure to catch on.

Which is nonsense.  If a platform doesn't get supported, it's because it didn't offer anything the public wanted to support.  Consumers don't "owe" a company support, and they aren't "hating" if support isn't offered.

 

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41 minutes ago, Stephen said:

I'll admit I am surprised they actually managed to release something.  I will also say, that while the product is not for me, and I have bashed it worse than any dead horse, I am glad that it seems to be making the people who backed it happy.  I won't deny anybody their fun - after all, video games are just that - games.

 

That being said, I'll not be able to stop talking smack about this turd :)

Yeah, I didn't think it would ever be released either.  I don't think it's anything special, and I can't see it being a commercial success, but most of the new owners seem happy with it.  Of course, if I waited so long for something that people said would never come, I would certainly appear happy as well.

 

Are the backers going through a honeymoon phase that won't last?  Considering how little you can actually do with the system, and playing roms of 40 year old games isn't exactly new or exciting, I suspect so.  But for now they're happy, so good.

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4 minutes ago, Agillig said:

Considering how little you can actually do with the system, and playing roms of 40 year old games isn't exactly new or exciting, I suspect so.  But for now they're happy, so good.

I don’t think Playing Roms can actually be done yet?  Has anyone got Retroarch or similar running on it? FArtari’s love of litigation in protecting (what they claim is) their I.P. would tend toward prohibiting this?

 

All in all making Raspberry Pie a better option still. 

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15 minutes ago, Agillig said:

Yeah, I didn't think it would ever be released either.  I don't think it's anything special, and I can't see it being a commercial success, but most of the new owners seem happy with it.  Of course, if I waited so long for something that people said would never come, I would certainly appear happy as well.

 

Are the backers going through a honeymoon phase that won't last?  Considering how little you can actually do with the system, and playing roms of 40 year old games isn't exactly new or exciting, I suspect so.  But for now they're happy, so good.

It's not fair for me to try and read the minds of people who backed this and received one.  If they're happy, they're happy.

 

That said, it's an extremely small number of people that won't be getting any bigger.  If running Linux and old roms is a big deal, then the VCS won't be a game changer regardless.

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43 minutes ago, Chopsus said:

I don’t think Playing Roms can actually be done yet?  Has anyone got Retroarch or similar running on it? FArtari’s love of litigation in protecting (what they claim is) their I.P. would tend toward prohibiting this?

 

All in all making Raspberry Pie a better option still. 

Well, isn't the Atari Vault just a collection of roms?  In any event, you should be able to run Retroarch or any emulator through Sandbox mode. 

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51 minutes ago, Chopsus said:

I don’t think Playing Roms can actually be done yet?  Has anyone got Retroarch or similar running on it? FArtari’s love of litigation in protecting (what they claim is) their I.P. would tend toward prohibiting this?

 

All in all making Raspberry Pie a better option still. 

You'll be able to run a better class of emulators on the VCS than you can manage on the Pi if you install Windows on it.

 

The latter pretty much tops out at Dreamcast/N64 in terms of what's playable, but the former ought to be able to run full MAME, PCSX2, Dolphin and maybe even CEMU.

 

That said, the same could be said for a lot of PCs you could pick up for around the $200 mark, and a lot of them will come with Windows, a decent-sized SSD, and have considerable more upgrade potential into the bargain.

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19 minutes ago, Matt_B said:

You'll be able to run a better class of emulators on the VCS than you can manage on the Pi if you install Windows on it.

 

The latter pretty much tops out at Dreamcast/N64 in terms of what's playable, but the former ought to be able to run full MAME, PCSX2, Dolphin and maybe even CEMU.

 

That said, the same could be said for a lot of PCs you could pick up for around the $200 mark, and a lot of them will come with Windows, a decent-sized SSD, and have considerable more upgrade potential into the bargain.

Hmmm ... might still sell it then and buy a mini PC for mame duties ... I have a Raspberry Pi running retro arch, but it’s built into a rather large controller deck and is a PIA to drag out and hook up.

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Anybody hacked into it far enough to see if the emulator is open source and hence a violation?

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9 minutes ago, CPUWIZ said:

Anybody hacked into it far enough to see if the emulator is open source and hence a violation?

When the VCS gets busted open and the mod community makes it worth a purchase I will snap one up....if it ever comes to retail that is.

Edited by MarioMan88
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1 hour ago, Matt_B said:

You'll be able to run a better class of emulators on the VCS than you can manage on the Pi if you install Windows on it.

 

The latter pretty much tops out at Dreamcast/N64 in terms of what's playable, but the former ought to be able to run full MAME, PCSX2, Dolphin and maybe even CEMU.

 

That said, the same could be said for a lot of PCs you could pick up for around the $200 mark, and a lot of them will come with Windows, a decent-sized SSD, and have considerable more upgrade potential into the bargain.

That last point you raise is one that is a major obstacle for the VCS at present, amongst others of course. Some of the actual credible reviewers of the VCS over the past few weeks, who have had this thing in hand and have either attempted to mod it or add RAM, have noted how complicated and un-intuitive that process was. 10+ specialty screws, internal access issues to contend with, connectors to disconnect, located on the opposite side of the board, requiring some feeling around, etc. Not an easy feat for conventional gamers who can pay a similar price and get a huge bump in available RAM with a XBox Series S, with a controller and without having to fiddle with a screwdriver and connectors for a half an hour (or buying actual RAM to add, out-of-pocket). And it offers more games. 

To me, the ease of use, game library, and actual gameplay/specs were the biggest determinant factors for me on whether to purchase. I am still waiting to see at least two of those concerns addressed by the updates or available suite of capabilities with this thing. 

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51 minutes ago, CPUWIZ said:

Anybody hacked into it far enough to see if the emulator is open source and hence a violation?

The emulators in Atari Vault? Absolutely not! Code Mystics has never used open source. Our team has been doing emulation from since before there was open source arcade emulation. In fact, the MAME Team just a couple days ago cited us on Twitter as one of their inspirations. Sorry, bit of a touchy subject for me. :)

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20 hours ago, Shaggy the Atarian said:

I like how the goal posts have now moved to this being some kind of Next Big Collectible rather than a viable entertainment product that lets you "game stream & connect like never before" that Netflix moms just will go crazy over.  Of course, it wouldn't be modern Atari if we weren't constantly having to lower those expectations. 

There's no goalposts.   It just doesn't appeal to you, so therefore you think it has no appeal to anyone. 

 

20 hours ago, Shaggy the Atarian said:

Lol, and you're not with this silly notion that the Atari logo is apparently worth millions and millions because of how the Jaguar currently shows up on eBay?

When did I ever say millions?  talk about moving the goalposts!   I said it would hold it's value better.    So maybe in 10  years, it'll still fetch a few hundred dollars while a similar generic PC build is worth $50 tops.  

 

20 hours ago, Shaggy the Atarian said:

Yes, people who want it just like throwing money at a logo, etc.etc. You seem to think, or are implying, that the VCS is going to be the hottest item in retro collecting history for some reason. I'd be willing to wager that items like the NES Classic will be far more collectible a some years down the road than the VCS will be.  

Have you ever looked at what collectors will spend money on?    Pieces of cardboard with pictures of baseball players will fetch lots of money if rare enough.   Yes the NES Classic might be more collectable,  but that doesn't mean the VCS won't be.   Of course it all depends on the rarity of each item

 

20 hours ago, Shaggy the Atarian said:

For the millionth time, there's nothing "novel" about a plastic case with an Atari logo on it. By that logic, the Atari-branded Raspberry Pi should be the most valuable RPi variant ever made. 

Well guess what?  They are already trending above retail on eBay:

 

image.thumb.png.95a8ec920f48c1d34306d292e13343c3.png

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1 hour ago, JeffVav said:

The emulators in Atari Vault? Absolutely not! Code Mystics has never used open source. Our team has been doing emulation from since before there was open source arcade emulation. In fact, the MAME Team just a couple days ago cited us on Twitter as one of their inspirations. Sorry, bit of a touchy subject for me. :)

 

Ah, cool, thanks.  I wonder where the story came from that Atari claimed to have written their own 2600 emulator.

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15 hours ago, Atarick said:

A lot of people would look at the fact you have to assemble and rig a Raspberry Pi as a waste of time.

 

A lot of people here, could have their kid do it. LOL

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46 minutes ago, zzip said:

There's no goalposts.   It just doesn't appeal to you, so therefore you think it has no appeal to anyone. 

 No one spends millions of dollars on a retail product in the hopes that it becomes a niche collector's item, which is what you are arguing that Atari is doing here. Atari themselves have made the claim GAME STREAM AND CONNECT LIKE NEVER BEFORE and that Netflix moms (aka, general buying public) will love it. That's not how you market a collector's item like a baseball card or a Jaguar. 

 

Also, I didn't know you're a mind reader! Did I say it'll appeal to no one? Nope. Just a small subset of the gaming community, a good chunk of which have thrown their money at it.  I could also say the same of what you're arguing: You think that because it's an Atari product, and that Jaguar's do well on eBay, that it'll be just as collectible as those. As the market saying goes though: "Past performance is not an indicator of future outcomes." The Angry Video Game Nerd did more for the collectible value on that than brand/nostaliga/story ever could; Plus rare, professional grade homebrews, original games, interesting prototype games, etc.  AA in general has salvaged a ton of value for Atari systems thanks to the homebrew scene. The VCS still has to prove itself and that's a pretty long road it has ahead of it to fall into the same class as anything that Atari of old produced. 

 

Quote

When did I ever say millions?  talk about moving the goalposts!   I said it would hold it's value better.    So maybe in 10  years, it'll still fetch a few hundred dollars while a similar generic PC build is worth $50 tops.  

 

I guess you don't understand what the word "imply" means, and a little bit of sarcasm. But that you think it'll go for a few hundred dollars in a few years? Yeah, I think that's extremely generous as you're way overvaluing the Atari brand. You do know that 99% of consumers buy game consoles because of their games, right?

 

Quote

Have you ever looked at what collectors will spend money on?    Pieces of cardboard with pictures of baseball players will fetch lots of money if rare enough.   Yes the NES Classic might be more collectable,  but that doesn't mean the VCS won't be.   Of course it all depends on the rarity of each item

Seems you're throwing in the towel on the VCS' sales pretty early. Again, as incompetent as I think the folks at Atari SA are, they didn't come into this thinking "Hmm, how can we create the next Air Raid cart?" They just want to make money, and the more hardware sales they can get, the more potential software sales they can garner. 

 

Granted, will it be rarish because it probably won't sell that much once it's widely available? Yeah. How much value that brings to the table depends on what Atari can release for it. If you have nothing but games that can be had elsewhere, then it's not going to be all that much. Ouya's aren't worth all that much because of that.  

 

Quote

Well guess what?  They are already trending above retail on eBay:

Uh, PS5s are going for almost $2000, XBX's also well above retail, so what's your point? Value today isn't going to tell you value 10 years down the road. This is pretty normal for new game console launches, have you ever used eBay before today? 

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1 hour ago, CPUWIZ said:

 

Ah, cool, thanks.  I wonder where the story came from that Atari claimed to have written their own 2600 emulator.

 

I hadn't seen that story. The Atari 2600 emulator in question is an evolution of one I created back in 1993. It was originally written in x86 assembly (and I'm proud to say did full frame rate on my 20MHz 286 laptop back then). I pitched it to Activision (and also Atari) but it was a DOS-based emulator, and Activision, though coincidentally having plans to make Atari 2600 Action Pack at the time, was heart-set on having a Windows-based emulator. Atari 2600 Action Pack was ultimately developed by Mike Livesay (his system requirements were also a modest 486 66MHz, if anyone is interested), though I did get the chance to do the Commodore 64 15-Pack spin-off for them back in 1995. Though I did a lot of other commerical emulations since then (starting with Williams Arcade Classics), I basically sat on that emulator until I had the opportunity to ressurrect it for Atari: 80 Classic Games in One in 2003. We subsequently adapted it for Atari Anthology (Xbox, PS2, after porting it to C), Activision Hits Remixed on PSP, then later Atari Greatest Hits Vol. 1 and 2 on Nintendo DS (ARM assembly at that point), Atari's Greatest Hits for iOS and Android, Activision Anthology for iOS and Android, and later still Atari Vault for Steam, which is what the VCS version derives from. (It also forms the basis of Atari Flashback Classics on Xbox One, PS4, Switch, and Vita. Hopefully I'm not forgetting any.) Anyway, I developed this myself and retain the rights to this particular emulator, but it is fully licensed for these products.

Obviously there are Atari arcade emulators in Atari Vault too, but they follow similar lineage, meticuluous reconstructed from studying the schematics and memory maps that Atari helpfully (and inexplicably) included with every arcade game. They're most definitely independently developed; that's why the Arcade1Up Star Wars (also one of ours) has features from the arcade game that no other emulator has yet replicated.

Edited by JeffVav
Correct Action Pack system requirement
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7 hours ago, CPUWIZ said:

 

Ah, cool, thanks.  I wonder where the story came from that Atari claimed to have written their own 2600 emulator.

 

Possibly from Atari themselves at E3 2019 (emphasis, mine):  https://www.pcworld.com/article/3402456/whats-inside-the-atari-vcs-ryzen-emulator.html
 

Quote

Atari’s betting big on its back catalog again, but in a frankly kind of bizarre way. Wyatt’s apparently created an entire Atari emulator for the VCS from scratch, which is a good start. Instead of just giving VCS purchasers those old 2600 games though, Atari is...selling them. Piecemeal. We were shown a store demo, and classic Atari games seem to run about a dollar per.

 

Once you have them, you can pop open the emulator at seemingly any point—even (though we didn’t see this in action) while waiting through load screens for a different game, which sounds smart! I played a bit of Space Invaders, and it played like the Atari home version of Space Invaders.


E3 2019 was where they had a bunch of empty Ataribox cases made to look working, one transparent mockup and a black box that only we at AtariAge called them out as using a PC:

post-39941-0-46932700-1560457854.jpg

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7 hours ago, CPUWIZ said:

 

A lot of people here, could have their kid do it. LOL

Oh I totally believe that. And honestly it's a fun hobby to do with a kid. But you and I both know that most people who might learn of the VCS at GameStop or Wal-Mart and simply say "Oh sweet, a new Atari" (how many of those people exist is an open question) would probably not be pacified by grabbing a Pi, assembling it, shelling out another $40-$50 for the CX controllers, etc.

 

If the VCS is a niche product, than a retro Pi running an Atari emulator that doesn't come plug and play ready is a niche of a niche.

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I think this confusion on emulators comes from a comment Atari made that Rob Wyatt was scratch building one for the VCS at some point. I dug around the IGG page and couldn't find that comment but I recall us debating that in the old thread. Maybe someone with better search skills can find that information. The only thing I recall otherwise was that this was to be working with the Atari OS and not something for the vault which I believe led to even more confusion. Though if I had to guess I would imagine that initially Atari had different plans and was going to have the games right in the box and not as a stand alone app.

 

At the end of the day with so many moving goal posts and changes with personal who knows. The other issue is we know Atari likes to rewrite history so the offending comment may be scrubbed from what ever Medium article or Facebook post that was claimed in.

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