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The Atari VCS Controversy Thread

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Say what you want about the "haters," but when the ataribox fails, it will be because the "lovers" just didn't love it enough.

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5 minutes ago, zzip said:

It got a flurry of positive press right before preorders opened.   Same with the Steam Deck.    Didn't The VCS crowdfunding campaign get delayed?   I think that's key.  Stuff falls off people's radar quickly,   Plus the Playdate doesn't have an army of haters ready to tear it to shreds at every turn,  unlike the Amico and VCS.

😄

If you go back to the early parts of the taco thread, a lot of now-haters were either optimistic or cautiously optimistic about the prospects - myself included. It was only when Atari launched the campaign - to plenty of good, positive press, despite delays and not paying their principle console designer - that some red flags started to pop-up. That and the fact that Atari lied about their meeting with El Reg where Michael Artz obviously had zero clue what he was doing and Atari had nothing more than some ideas on paper and a 3D printed plastic brick. Despite all that, they still made $3m for it, which until today was hailed as some grand success.

 

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I noticed a number of the users here who complained that the VCS is "underpowered", that there is no point in launching a console in 2021 because "you can't compete with the big-3" are all-in on the Playdate.   Weird how that works out, since most of those criticisms apply there as well.   All because it has that one gimmick...

 

I'll be right back,  I'm going to crowdfund a console that features a TNT plunger, a rotary dialer and a TV Rabbit ears for the hipster crowd

Well, that gimmick was enough to generate strong initial sales, which is the only metric that matters at the end of the day. If the VCS had sold 20k units in 20 minutes, we'd still be hearing about it today. It hasn't, and despite some additional positive press it got when finally launching this year, we finally got to see the results of what a lot of us "haters" have predicted - that your average mainstream consumer doesn't give a flying crap about a 50 year old logo, another emulation machine or an identity confused device that has a web browser for it. 

 

It's often mentioned in Jaguar threads that the reason the Jag failed was Atari lacked the resources to make it a success. How exactly are we not seeing that same thing play out with the VCS, in a far more competitive/saturated gaming market than existed 25 years ago?

 

Maybe the Play Date will flop after the initial buy, but I can't help but laugh that it's already a bigger success than the VCS has been and it didn't need anything that we've been told for years would equal amazing sales for 2021 hardware.

3 minutes ago, WispFollower said:

. I'm hoping someone can help me see who is drawn to the vcs and why. I have read some specs and some of the mission statement kind of stuff. It's another option for gaming and media center for the family, which might be a tough sell if it's in the price range of triple a consoles. Is there an x factor I'm missing?

 

If the game prices I saw are legit, then that is a huge plus. A mountain of good, affordable games can take a system a long way. Will there be steady, fun exclusives coming to the vcs? If couch multiplayer is a huge goal, then affordable controllers would entice people. However, with no track record, a purchase of some of these systems can be a leap of faith, and some may not want to start leaping with $400+ unless there's something making them say, "I have to have specifically that!"

I'm labelled as a "VCS Hater" so take this however you will, but here's what I see:

 

VCS Fans like it because it's an Atari hardware product and they're happy to support that regardless because they have fond memories of their old Atari systems. Some want it because of collectibility down the road. Some see it as a decent PC. It has the CX-40 joystick remake. 

 

Is there an x factor for it? I think if you have to ask, then there's your answer. 

 

Exclusives? Nope. There are a few timed exclusives, but nothing truly exclusive for it that you can't get anywhere else. There's a lot of wishing going on in this regard, where fans keep hoping Atari will announce something for it, but that's the kind of thing you announce when all the eyes are on you at launch. Even if they announced a cool new Yars Revenge or Asteroids or Centipede today, it's doubtful that would help them capture any momentum at this point, unless the game somehow was of such high quality that it became the next Fortnite. Atari has a really terrible track record with paying developers though, so chances of them getting a AAA/AA/A studio on board for anything -especially with under 20,000 unit sales - is pretty much zero. They've been sorta trying to position themselves as an indie device, but the Switch & existing PCs already has that wrapped up pretty well.

 

Couch multiplayer? Never heard Atari talk about this or promote it for the machine. That seems to be more Amico's thing, but it's again playing in a space that Nintendo owns. Not saying they couldn't make it work, but part of this problem is that Atari doesn't have a development team. It's pretty much a small group of office managers.  

 

Haters fail to see the benefit of spending this kind of cash on a product because of a logo, and there's no shortage of collectible items out there. Most of us already have decent or better gaming PCs. If you really need something like the CX-40 in your life, you can get that separately. If you want a game console, then the existing three options are better value for the money and they know what they are, with much more support & resources behind them. 

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Thanks for the input. I've got no horse in any of these consoles races per se, but the absolute circus of back and forth between everyone just fascinates me. I have followed a bit of the amico stuff, as the whole chain of events has had so many happenings and characters. It is hard to ignore at this point. I am always open to hearing people's opinions on these machines, from any side.

 

Part of the reason I began following these is I am definitely in the target demographic for many of them, and I don't want to miss something cool I could enjoy. The only issue is I can't convince myself to get any of the higher priced ones due to no major games or features so far justifying the entry point (although my colecovision needs repaired, so a Phoenix is looking tempting, but that's more of a replacement than an addition). I did, after much deliberating, order a playdate yesterday. I actually tried to convince myself out of it, but that thing has a laundry list of reasons I couldn't pass it up. My girlfriend knows me very well, and she nailed it when she told me, "You're going to be sad if you don't get it."

 

If money and space were not such a premium for me, I'd get every crazy game device out there to try them for myself, but sitting here with a library that I could spend hundreds of years getting through, I'm going to have to start thinking, "Will I be sad if I don't get this?" rather than picking something up to see if it's worth it.

 

I love big modern games, and have devices for those. I have charming indie games I enjoy on some devices. I love classic style games from many systems, and there are countless ways to play them. Unless someone can present me an itch I've never scratched, the market seems to be absolutely flooded with options for any gaming need, at every price point, going down to free for emulation. It seems a nearly sisyphean task to thrust a new gaming device out there that is well out of range of impulse price and gain wide adoption. I am not rooting against anyone, just the opposite in fact. If more great devices hit the market, then there are more options for gamers. 

 

All this rambling to basically say, I'm just watching everything in awe, basically starting with the atari, coleco, and intv flashbacks from a little while ago. For now, most of my gaming budget goes to ps4, ps5, and switch, with occasional intv and colecovision homebrews. However, I'm always watching for that next wild thing I gotta have.

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I'm in a similar boat - I should be the target demographic for the VCS - I own a sizable collection of Atari systems & games and I've owned several Atari arcade machines over the years - but I see it as having far more negatives to it than warrant me spending $400~ on it. I'm not going to throw my money away on something just because it has an Atari logo on it. It'd be nothing more than a dust collector if I bought one, as I already have a far more capable PC & laptop for my computing and occasional game needs or a Switch and a real arcade for the rest of the gaming I do. I'm a guy that will spend some decent cash on things like an SD cart for my 7800 or I'll spend thousands on an arcade machine. Granted the latter is because I use it for a business; The former though, I actually use my SD carts since there's an active homebrew scene for all the old systems.

 

That was the original promise of the VCS waaay back - that it was going to be this great system that would draw all of the Atari homebrewers to it. But very, very few of them have bothered to do so. Part of that is because Atari completely botched their developer rollout. There were a few here who sent emails to the Atari development portal only for Atari to claim that they never got them. Of course, there still wasn't even a system that an SDK could exist on for the longest time. But by the time they figured it all out, that ship had sailed.

 

Of course I think they just don't understand what drives homebrewers to do what they do. There's something about coding for old hardware and finding ways to make it do things it wasn't supposed to do. You don't really get that with something that's just a low-powered x86 PC. I'm sure down the road there might be a few people doing that sort of thing with the VCS, but that's not a reason to buy one now.

 

Had Atari thought this through with someone competent at the helm(that they actually paid for all of their work), they could have had their own Atari Game Maker Garage thing that would allow anyone to make games for it, and in the style of different Atari platforms of the past. If you could make a game that looks/functions like a 2600/5200/7800 game using a program that doesn't require any coding, or some other way at making it easy for homebrews made here to show up on the VCS store, then that's the kind of gimmick that would be enticing to more people here. Instead it's just 'use Unity and pretty please make something exclusive for it?' Another amusing thing about the Play Date in that regard is that they are promising to release both an SDK and a no-code game builder program for it. They could botch that, but if they follow through then there's another leg up they have on Atari. LOL.

 

Darth Vader Empire Strikes Back GIF - DarthVader Vader EmpireStrikesBack GIFs

 

Of course, while Atari would be happy with every sale they could get, they really have angled and priced this as a mainstream gaming device: "Game, Stream and connect like never before!" That tagline is a super lofty promise and by asking those questions, we answer this thread's primary question.

 

I just can't see what the point of a VCS is, and it's extremely unlikely that it'll get better from here, but if you want to go for it, more power to you. 

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3 hours ago, zzip said:

I'll be right back,  I'm going to crowdfund a console that features a TNT plunger, a rotary dialer and a TV Rabbit ears for the hipster crowd 😄

I think we need a plunger made of TNT. Explosively flush all this crap away.

 

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3 hours ago, Stephen said:

Or was faking it the entire time?

Yeah I think people gave this dude waaaay to much credit based on absolutely nothing. Kind of like the VCS project itself. 

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5 hours ago, Metal Jesus said:

I've been casually watching the build up to the release of the VCS...

Back when videogames first came out in the 70's and 80's we didn't "build-up" anything. Hopes. Wants. Hype. None of that. There wasn't time. A product was advertised on TV or a magazine, then it showed up in the stores. We bought it. There were no months or years of hype. Even in the 90's and 2000-2010'ish there was minimal hype compared to today.

 

The allure of crowdfunding and internet marketing, especially internet marketing, seems to have corrupted companies. Tricking them into seeing some sort of fast track to $$$.

 

Or maybe it's just plain old stupidity.

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Naah, there was still hype. You don't think that Atari handed over the millions for the ET license just because they thought there was a really great game begging to be made out of it, do you?

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What do today's gamers want? Might be good for a company to listen directly to their potential customers and not some over-conceptualized marketing consultant pre-packaging their services.

 

I'm not wholly sure exactly what the gaming enthusiast wants today.. As evidenced by many of these threads, they don't either. But I can tell you the existing range of real and available hardware covers it nicely. We have Software Emulation, FPGA, and classic compilations to pick up the vintage stuff. And there are already three nice modern-day consoles (four if you include PC) to carry the flag forward. Ebay, mobile, and pre-owned hardware pick up all that's inbetween.

 

3 hours ago, Shaggy the Atarian said:

Well, that gimmick was enough to generate strong initial sales, which is the only metric that matters at the end of the day. If the VCS had sold 20k units in 20 minutes, we'd still be hearing about it today. It hasn't, and despite some additional positive press it got when finally launching this year, we finally got to see the results of what a lot of us "haters" have predicted - that your average mainstream consumer doesn't give a flying crap about a 50 year old logo, another emulation machine or an identity confused device that has a web browser for it. 

I can certainly tell you I don't care about the old logos, outside a blip of nostalgia. And neither do any of my acquaintances or colleagues. Additionally the mainstream consumer does not care about the histories of vintage consoles or any of the "bullshit marketing" a company may spew when talking about said history.

 

A lot of the devices coming out today seem too formulaic. Yes. Web browser, streaming box, emulation center, partly expandable, online gaming store. None of it is really compelling any longer.

Edited by Keatah
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I have it on good* authority there will be announcement announcement, announcing an announcement, coming soon* so stay tuned true believers and don't let the hater's hate distract you from the bomb-diggety! Remember, any delays are just to make it even better, and at this rate, we are guaranteed* to be the greatest!

 

*word definitions are subject to change.

I am not in any way connected to the historian.

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1 hour ago, Matt_B said:

Naah, there was still hype. You don't think that Atari handed over the millions for the ET license just because they thought there was a really great game begging to be made out of it, do you?

Agreed, but Atari (and other companies) would happily ride the coattails of a film or arcade game's success if meant selling more cartridges and/or machines.  Donkey Kong sold a lot of ColecoVisions early on in that system's life.

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I did just learn that Food Fight is being remade and will launch on the VCS next year. Good for them.

 

Then at the bottom of the article, learned that it's later coming to pretty much every other device on the planet.

 

That tells you all you need to know about how much faith Atari themselves has in their little box. 

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1 hour ago, toiletunes said:

I have it on good* authority there will be announcement announcement, announcing an announcement, coming soon* so stay tuned true believers and don't let the hater's hate distract you from the bomb-diggety! Remember, any delays are just to make it even better, and at this rate, we are guaranteed* to be the greatest!

 

*word definitions are subject to change.

I am not in any way connected to the historian.

Ha, they did announce a Food Fight remake.  Which is cool.

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2 hours ago, jerseystyle said:

Yeah I think people gave this dude waaaay to much credit based on absolutely nothing. Kind of like the VCS project itself. 

Ehh...  I see where you're coming from, but I really don't think that much stock was placed in his followthrough on the post-NDA revelations.  It was one of those things where if it happened, great, but considering the source there was as at least as much chance of it not happening.  So far, 'not happening' seems to be the winner, but I'd be thrilled for him to turn up and prove me wrong on that front.

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2 minutes ago, x=usr(1536) said:

Ehh...  I see where you're coming from, but I really don't think that much stock was placed in his followthrough on the post-NDA revelations.  It was one of those things where if it happened, great, but considering the source there was as at least as much chance of it not happening.  So far, 'not happening' seems to be the winner, but I'd be thrilled for him to turn up and prove me wrong on that front.

Me too- I’d be happy if a guy who called himself The Historian actually imparted some wisdom to us instead of gaslighting everyone for years. I would love to be wrong about this for sure.

Edited by jerseystyle
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1 hour ago, Shaggy the Atarian said:

I did just learn that Food Fight is being remade and will launch on the VCS next year. Good for them.

 

Then at the bottom of the article, learned that it's later coming to pretty much every other device on the planet.

 

That tells you all you need to know about how much faith Atari themselves has in their little box. 

The one thing that struck me as weird about this: Food Fight - while not a bad game - wasn't exactly a smash arcade hit that everyone was clamouring to play.  Outside of Atari enthusiast and arcade game collecting circles, it's difficult to think of anyone who might even remember it as an Atari game.

 

Part Deux to the above: Atari SA is continuing to lean on nostalgia (read: IP that doesn't require them to licence) rather than promoting the much-hyped indie side of the console.  To my mind, this is not a workable strategy - remakes and demakes only capture an audience that knows the source material.  There's nothing here to expand the userbase.

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They've already flogged the games that were hits pretty hard though.

 

The world could use a little more time to recover from the last remakes of Haunted House, Star Raiders and Yar's Revenge so why not take a deeper delve into the catalogue and re-make something where blackening the name will have less of an impact? 😀

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4 minutes ago, Matt_B said:

Yar's Revenge

I was going to correct you on your spelling but that's precisely how Atari spelled the name of the remake. 😅

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10 hours ago, jerseystyle said:

Me too- I’d be happy if a guy who called himself The Historian actually imparted some wisdom to us instead of gaslighting everyone for years. I would love to be wrong about this for sure.

 

I assumed he knew something about history, or managed an ICS / SCADA network.

 

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Speak for yourselves. I'm absolutely crushed. I was sitting in my homemade anti-VCS supervillain bunker, which of course is in my mom's basement, because clearly I have to live with my parents if I don't like the VCS, rubbing my hands together with JOY just hoping the Coalition of Haters would finally have the ammunition to destroy the noble ragamuffin, beat the odds amazing video game console that we all secretly know is the same or better than the Switch, but I've been utterly despairing since then. 

 

I mean since I'm a maladapted troll in my mom's basement and have absolutely nothing to do all day but insult other people what else was I supposed to look forward to? Now, much like the 1990s after school specials explained about bullies, I have to face my own insecurities instead of reflecting away from beating up on others. It's been a hard couple weeks, what can I say?

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2 hours ago, Cebus Capucinis said:

Speak for yourselves. I'm absolutely crushed. I was sitting in my homemade anti-VCS supervillain bunker, which of course is in my mom's basement, because clearly I have to live with my parents if I don't like the VCS, rubbing my hands together with JOY just hoping the Coalition of Haters would finally have the ammunition to destroy the noble ragamuffin, beat the odds amazing video game console that we all secretly know is the same or better than the Switch, but I've been utterly despairing since then. 

 

I mean since I'm a maladapted troll in my mom's basement and have absolutely nothing to do all day but insult other people what else was I supposed to look forward to? Now, much like the 1990s after school specials explained about bullies, I have to face my own insecurities instead of reflecting away from beating up on others. It's been a hard couple weeks, what can I say?

Don't forget the Hot Pockets!

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24 minutes ago, digdugnate said:

Don't forget the Hot Pockets!

 

Watch comedian Jim Gaffigan's hot pocket routine.  A real hoot

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