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The Atari VCS Controversy Thread

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4 minutes ago, TACODON said:

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.

As a thought experiment, it would be interesting to see if we could pinpoint the exact moment when l'Atari started actually realizing they would need to do the work themselves, and not some hypothetical company that would buy them out.

 

At what point was the Ataribox no longer Someone Else's Problem?

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5 hours ago, Atarick said:

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.

Yet any single model of the Pi will sell far more in a month than the VCS will sell in its lifetime. It's cheaper, better supported, and arguably far more versatile. Sure the Pi is for a niche (if you want to call >36 million Pi's sold over the past 8 years or so niche; price DOES matter with this stuff), but the VCS is for a micro-niche, a term I've not been using lightly all these years. There's a big difference between an inexpensive and well-supported hobby board versus a pricey and relatively underpowered PC console thing (and heck, the Raspberry Pi 400 does most of what the VCS does, give or take either way, for less than $100). 

I think the key difference is that the Pi and SBCs like it are a very well defined market with a wide range of use cases. The VCS does not have a well-defined market or any established use cases. And lets not pretend that Atari themselves has been 100% behind their own product, the VCS, otherwise they wouldn't be licensing/co-branding Raspberry Pi's, arcade sticks with Pi's in them, etc. The VCS is not a platform with a clear future by any stretch of the imagination.
 

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14 hours ago, Shaggy the Atarian said:

"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

The Jaguar was custom architecture that few developers truly knew how to exploit,  it had dubious claims of being a 64-bit system.  It had a horrible software library outside a few gems.   Horrible controllers, a CD drive notorious for failures.  Built cheaply by the Tramiel family who practically made cutting corners into a religion.   It's desirable now due to the power of nostalgia.   That is a pretty low bar for the VCS.   The VCS is at least open and you can put your own games and emulators on it, including all the homebrews from all the other Atari systems, should Atari fail to support it.

 

14 hours ago, Shaggy the Atarian said:

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? 

I sell stuff on eBay all the time.  There's a lot of stuff you literally can't give away on eBay.   The eBay price doesn't go above retail unless it's an item that people want enough to pay above retail price.   Listening to the posters here, you'd think nobody wants this thing, and if they did, they already preordered, so there's no additional buyers out there.   It just isn't the case. 

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1 hour ago, Bill Loguidice said:

Yet any single model of the Pi will sell far more in a month than the VCS will sell in its lifetime. It's cheaper, better supported, and arguably far more versatile. Sure the Pi is for a niche (if you want to call >36 million Pi's sold over the past 8 years or so niche; price DOES matter with this stuff), but the VCS is for a micro-niche, a term I've not been using lightly all these years. There's a big difference between an inexpensive and well-supported hobby board versus a pricey and relatively underpowered PC console thing (and heck, the Raspberry Pi 400 does most of what the VCS does, give or take either way, for less than $100). 

I think the key difference is that the Pi and SBCs like it are a very well defined market with a wide range of use cases. The VCS does not have a well-defined market or any established use cases. And lets not pretend that Atari themselves has been 100% behind their own product, the VCS, otherwise they wouldn't be licensing/co-branding Raspberry Pi's, arcade sticks with Pi's in them, etc. The VCS is not a platform with a clear future by any stretch of the imagination.

There is one big advantage that the VCS has over the Pi for building a retrogaming box.   Being x86-64 based and speed.   The older Pi's are as fast as a PC from around 1999,  I'm not sure how the Pi4's stack up,   I just got a Pi 400 myself, but haven't fully put it through its paces yet.

 

But anyway, there are more emulator options for x86-64 systems because not everyone opens their source code.   You could emulate newer systems because of more power.  You could run more recent Steam games on it.

 

Also form-factor wise, the older Pis don't make very good consoles with wires coming out of 3 or 4 sides,  no way to power them off by default, no wifi/BT without buying extra hardware and consuming USB ports.   The VCS has a console form factor with hopefully the niceties you'd expect.

 

To me this is the main use case for the VCS- the ultimate living room retrobox.  

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I wouldnt't compare this atari vcs to a raspberry pi.  It's not a hobby computer.  It's more comparable to an nvidia shield.  As far as why it exists; that's very simple.  It's a typical crowdfunded project.  Atari SA asked if people are interested; and thousands responded yes.  Once all the backers receive their units the project is a success.

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14 hours ago, JeffVav said:

that's why the Arcade1Up Star Wars (also one of ours) has features from the arcade game that no other emulator has yet replicated.

You guys did a great job with that, and I appreciate that you (or your team) popped into the Arcade1Up subreddit to answer questions when it started reaching people homes. 

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1 hour ago, zzip said:

 

 

To me this is the main use case for the VCS- the ultimate living room retrobox.  

If that's true, and I have no real room to disagree, I'm still not seeing why the VCS is a compelling solution.  There already exist devices which can fill that need... for less money and with less user labor.  
 

With "living room retroboxes", you usually come down to people arguing between cheap devices you have to set up yourself (RPi, PC, Etc.) , or expensive ones that are ready out of the box (Polymega).  The VCS falls into neither camp, so I'm really not sure who it's cheerleaders are going to be.

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32 minutes ago, zzip said:

The Jaguar was custom architecture that few developers truly knew how to exploit,  it had dubious claims of being a 64-bit system.  It had a horrible software library outside a few gems.   Horrible controllers, a CD drive notorious for failures.  Built cheaply by the Tramiel family who practically made cutting corners into a religion.   It's desirable now due to the power of nostalgia.   That is a pretty low bar for the VCS.  

The Jaguar had many original games and exclusives on it - yes it had plenty of bad games, and it had some decent/good ones. Ask anyone the primary reason why they purchase a game console and the vast majority answer will be because of the games - often certain ones, but games nonetheless. I bought one back in '97 mainly because I wanted AvP & T2k; Other stuff I enjoyed like Iron Soldier, the best console version of Wolf 3D, MC3D, BattleMorph were nice additions. Telegames, Songbird and some other devs also were bringing some cool things to it. At the time the CD drive wasn't notorious for anything other than having very few games, but it had the VLM. Still, Atari produced 325k total units, which is terrible for the wide market(and by wide market considerations, a failure), yet still vastly outnumbers what the VCS is on track for so far. 

 

I find it hard to agree that nostalgia on it is that "powerful" when it was roundly hated back in the day and "only had 1 or 2 good games." People don't have much nostalgia for something they hated. 

 

Quote

The VCS is at least open and you can put your own games and emulators on it, including all the homebrews from all the other Atari systems, should Atari fail to support it.

That's the one thing going for it, but again we'll just be circling the argument back on "but that's nothing special apart from the logo on the box"

 

Quote

I sell stuff on eBay all the time.  There's a lot of stuff you literally can't give away on eBay.   The eBay price doesn't go above retail unless it's an item that people want enough to pay above retail price.   Listening to the posters here, you'd think nobody wants this thing, and if they did, they already preordered, so there's no additional buyers out there.   It just isn't the case. 

Saying a few dozen bidders on eBay want a VCS because they'll bid above retail price is hardly indicative of a general trend. I see a lot more listings with 0 bids than have bids, and saw a listing with bids that was under retail price. In the professional sales world (I used to sell arcade/amusement equipment to businesses & homes for a living BTW), if I was paying for market consultancy, which all big companies do, and found out that my guy was just checking eBay listings to discover trends and nothing else, then I'd fire him. There are many more metrics they need to use to get a picture of trends than that, which includes customer surveys, competitive product sales numbers, consumer interest metrics gathered from a wide variety of sites, whether you're online only or at retail, etc. 

 

If Michael Artz or Fred Chesnais went to Shark Tank and presented the VCS as they've done so far, they'd be laughed out of the studio. Fred was unable to get Steve Wozniak on board with investing, although he gave it a go. 

 

Speaking of metrics, I think what might help here are establishing some. If we want to be absolutely literal when saying "nobody," then sure that's inaccurate. Using it in a looser sense though, which is what I've been doing, then yeah, it's a flop so far that is going up against similarly priced competitors, with more "retro competition" coming later this year with the likes of the Amico.

 

The aforementioned Jaguar had 325k produced units and sold less than than. Never heard anyone call that a success, but a flop.

The Sega Dreamcast sold 10.6 million units between 1999-2007. Considered to be a failure. 

The WiiU only managed to sell 13.56 million units, also considered to be a flop.

The Ouya, another gaming flop that the VCS shares some similarities with, was considered to be a successful crowdfunded project, in terms of raising $8m and shipping out over 50k units to backers. But when it finally became available to the wider public, first month sales were "light" and the company eventually folded, selling a total of 200k units. Considered to be a flop.

 

For successes, recently the Nintendo Switch surpassed 70 million units sold; The PlayStation 4 sold around 108 million units. The PS5 & the Switch are currently in a battle for being the game device that people want, with the PS5 outselling the XBX so far and predictions that it'll reach 6 million units sold by March; The Switch is constantly having stock issues because it sells out as soon as stock is replenished.

 

Compare the VCS, which had plenty of time to drum up interest, being officially announced well before the PS5, only managed $3m in crowdfunding and not all of that went to game console purchases. Some were just for the joystick. In total that's about 11k, but actual console sales would be below 11k because of that. 

 

By all the objective metrics I see, under 11k in this market is not some resounding success (and lol at the notion that "just getting it shipped" counts as a success now). With numbers like under 11k vs. 100 million+, yeah, I'll say "nobody." 

 

I see no indicators that once the VCS hits the big market that people are going to go crazy for it. There are no "killer apps" coming for it so far that are generating hype. Is there any evidence that consumers at large really want an emulation box that they have to configure themselves as opposed to having it play thousands of games out of the box? Good luck at marketing this to the casual users (aka "Netflix Moms") that you need sales from - "If you really want to take advantage of the VCS, you just need to buy external storage, buy and setup Windows 10, then scour the internet for the emulator you want, then find and configure all of the other files needed for that experience!" 

 

Have you any of you guys who keep saying that the VCS is going to be the ultimate retro box never used a Nintendo Switch or a PS4? They are already jam packed with retro games, and have ways for you to either get classics for cheap or free (NES & SNES games are available as a part of the Switch Online service). They're super easy for any casual user to use and enjoy. If you jailbreak the consoles, then you can run stuff like RetroArch too. But those systems aren't selling millions of units because of their official or unofficial emulation support...that's just a nice bonus for power users.

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53 minutes ago, godslabrat said:

If that's true, and I have no real room to disagree, I'm still not seeing why the VCS is a compelling solution.  There already exist devices which can fill that need... for less money and with less user labor.  
 

With "living room retroboxes", you usually come down to people arguing between cheap devices you have to set up yourself (RPi, PC, Etc.) , or expensive ones that are ready out of the box (Polymega).  The VCS falls into neither camp, so I'm really not sure who it's cheerleaders are going to be.

Netflix mom's I guess?

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Most “successful” consoles are loss leaders because the real product (and profit) is the games - this is where FArtari really fails, it was never going to be viable without some proprietary software elements.  Relying on 3rd party developers to do this for them (for free) was never going to work.

 

Relying on early adopters to alpha-test is also a failure of a plan.

Edited by Chopsus
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2 minutes ago, Chopsus said:

Most “successful” consoles are loss leaders because the real product (and profit) is the games - this is where FArtari really fails, it was never going to be viable without some proprietary software elements.  Relying on 3rd party developers to do this for them (for free) was never going to work.

 

Relying on early adopters to alpha-test is also a failure of a plan.

Hey man - chill.  That $3 million they took was not about the money.  It was to gauge interest and build a community.

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21 minutes ago, Stephen said:

Hey man - chill.  That $3 million they took was not about the money.  It was to gauge interest and build a community.

LOL! .... Uber chilled here, it’s the Fan-at-dicks that need to chill ROFLMAO

 

edit: I think I just got your point ... the Atari VCS “is” a loss leader ... it’s just the backers that funded the loss? LOL

Edited by Chopsus
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4 hours ago, zzip said:

There is one big advantage that the VCS has over the Pi for building a retrogaming box.   Being x86-64 based and speed.   The older Pi's are as fast as a PC from around 1999,  I'm not sure how the Pi4's stack up,   I just got a Pi 400 myself, but haven't fully put it through its paces yet.

 

But anyway, there are more emulator options for x86-64 systems because not everyone opens their source code.   You could emulate newer systems because of more power.  You could run more recent Steam games on it.

 

Also form-factor wise, the older Pis don't make very good consoles with wires coming out of 3 or 4 sides,  no way to power them off by default, no wifi/BT without buying extra hardware and consuming USB ports.   The VCS has a console form factor with hopefully the niceties you'd expect.

 

To me this is the main use case for the VCS- the ultimate living room retrobox.  

I know you were referencing "older Pis" in your 3rd paragraph above, but check out the Argon ONE Pi 4 case if you haven't seen it.

https://www.argon40.com/argon-one-raspberry-pi-4-case.html

 $25. For $20 more, you can replace the bottom and get an M.2 slot for the Pi.

 

It has active cooling, a power on/off switch, and moves all connections to the rear.

 

A Pi 4, w/ 4 or 8GB RAM, along with its 2.4/5GHz WIFI, BT5.0, gigabit ethernet port, USB 3.0 ports, etc. is one HECK of a bargain, and looks very slick in that case.

Edited by aramis
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13 minutes ago, aramis said:

I know you were referencing "older Pis" in your 3rd paragraph above, but check out the Argon ONE Pi 4 case if you haven't seen it.

https://www.argon40.com/argon-one-raspberry-pi-4-case.html

 $25. For $20 more, you can replace the bottom and get an M.2 slot for the Pi.

 

It has active cooling, a power on/off switch, and moves all connections to the rear.

 

A Pi 4, w/ 4 or 8GB RAM, along with its 2.4/5GHz WIFI, BT5.0, gigabit ethernet port, USB 3.0 ports, etc. is one HECK of a bargain, and looks very slick in that case.

It's a very nice case. I might get one of those with the M.2 for one of my machines.
There really should be a forum for Raspberry Pi use as a console, of it's own. If there is, I've overlooked it.

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21 minutes ago, aramis said:

I know you were referencing "older Pis" in your 3rd paragraph above, but check out the Argon ONE Pi 4 case if you haven't seen it.

https://www.argon40.com/argon-one-raspberry-pi-4-case.html

 $25. For $20 more, you can replace the bottom and get an M.2 slot for the Pi.

 

It has active cooling, a power on/off switch, and moves all connections to the rear.

 

A Pi 4, w/ 4 or 8GB RAM, along with its 2.4/5GHz WIFI, BT5.0, gigabit ethernet port, USB 3.0 ports, etc. is one HECK of a bargain, and looks very slick in that case.

Which again begs the question!  Who would pay $400 for the VCS?  Who would pay $250 for it?  Why would they?

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13 hours ago, PlaysWithWolves said:

 

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

For the record, whatever this was, it's entirely distinct from Atari Vault. The Atari Vault emulator was integrated with its UI code. They wouldn't have been able to separate it out, nor has it ever run Space Invaders, since that's not part of the Atari IP library. Maybe whatever this was, when Rob Wyatt left the project he took this with him?

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26 minutes ago, DemonAttack82 said:

Once again I will jump in and say:  "beyond amateur hour, clown shit-show at this point."  Before someone asks - yes I can and do write secure code.  Company I work for (coming up on ten years in a few months) is Fed-Ramp certified, we provide complex contract management software for NASA and the DOJ among other clients.  Our customers manage contracts with thousands of employees and billions of dollar contracts.  Wow - just wow.

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23 minutes ago, Stephen said:

we provide complex contract management software for NASA and the DOJ among other clients.

 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2020/12/14/dhs-doj-and-dod-are-all-customers-of-solarwinds-orion-the-source-of-the-huge-us-government-hack/

 

Sorry, couldn't resist. :P

 

Interesting job, do you enjoy it?  Or is it just a paycheck? :)

 

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55 minutes ago, CPUWIZ said:

We have nothing to do with Solar Winds.  We're just contract management software - think banking software meets peach tree accounting meets Share Point workflows and document management.  But we do it better, and more customizable, and VERY securely.

 

Do I enjoy it.  Depends.  I am not a "rock star" game developer so on that front, I failed.  I am not a "rock star" in real life, so I failed again.  However, it pays well, and I get to work from home, and collaborate daily with my brother.  We decide where the company goes, we push new technology.  So in this respect, yes, I love my job.  Because the people I work for respect me, my abilities, and my opinion.  When they ask me for guidance, they respect what I tell them.

 

In this respect, I am the luckiest guy on the planet.  I get to work with my brother who is my best friend, our software impacts tens of thousands of people by making their jobs easier, and I have witnessed several major rocket launches on base with company insiders.  So yeah - I'm living a dream and I give thanks every night for it.

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1 minute ago, CPUWIZ said:

Awesome. 👍

Thanks - from a "loser" that started out welding and driving fork lift and loading semi trucks, to a loser that gets to work in his underwear and lurk on AA all day :)

 

I love you guys.

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1 minute ago, Stephen said:

loser that gets to work in his underwear and lurk on AA all day

 

Ditto, have been for many years before Covid. :D

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