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Mockduck

The Atari VCS Controversy Thread

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On 7/15/2021 at 8:50 PM, x=usr(1536) said:

Asking for a friend: now that we're eight days past your NDA's expiration, when will the beans be spilled?

And, one day past the one-month mark of @The Historian's VCS-related NDA going necrotic, we hear sweet fuck-all from him.

 

There are a number of things that one could infer from this, but I'm just going to go with him being utterly full of shit.  He is more than welcome to prove me wrong on this front, but my expectations in that regard are low.

 

Stick a fork in him; he's done.  Nothing else to say since he still hasn't been here since the 17th of June.

 

179672572_TheHistorianActivity.thumb.jpg.c9e6be2d569e50335a778e7a901d01a6.jpg

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1 hour ago, x=usr(1536) said:

Hm.  It appears as though @The Historian has returned and is giving out what information he can.  I stand corrected.

 

Yes, sorry for the delay. I've moved since this all began and I cannot find the notes. I'm digging through old emails and finding a few gems.

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On 7/30/2021 at 11:22 PM, leech said:

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

Potentially cool. Would be nice to see a hit like Streets of Rage 4 rather than some bland copypasta like the mobile Missile Command. I’m happy they’re going for a deep cut instead of the usual Asteroids, Pong, and Centipede. 

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On 7/25/2021 at 7:59 PM, Mockduck said:

Not dead yet, but seems to be slowing down. My guess is a handful of new games and then...probably not much unless it starts to sell, which it just doesn't seem to be. Again, no big surprise there. However, for those of us who do have one and have been using it, it'll be useful for the long-term. Been loving mine, and will continue to for quite some time. 

Can you give me an honest review of it? I haven't followed the development of this product. Why do you like it, and how do you use it?

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11 hours ago, davidcalgary29 said:

Can you give me an honest review of it? I haven't followed the development of this product. Why do you like it, and how do you use it?

I've done my honest video review on YouTube, but I'd say that it is a great and great looking $300 mini PC with its own indie Atari-branded OS, the controllers rock, and it offers a lot of diversity and opportunity. That said, I don't really care if someone else wants one or not; to some extent if you have to go back and forth to find a reason to buy it, maybe don't. But if you see what it offers and find it interesting, you can buy it knowing that it delivers on most of its promises and has been a great little device since Christmas for me. The biggest downside is its 4k delivery, and a weak bluetooth connectivity in some cases. 4K is working quite well actually in PC Mode, but barely functions in AtariOS. In terms of specs, you are getting something equivalent to a $300 laptop, so PC gaming on it is more indie and retro than modern processing-heavy games. 

 

I could actually totally see someone using it as their main computer for work, retro gaming, indie gaming, and general productivity. It doesn't support multiple monitors, though, but not everyone is a two-to-three screen person like me. 

 

There isn't a bad game in the AtariOS, and it really shows the benefit of curation. All of these games could be purchased and played elsewhere, but I haven't because they were lost in a sea of Steam releases and such. Don't buy a VCS looking for exclusives. Honestly, any dev wanting to release a VCS exclusive has got to be ok with just selling a few thousand copies if they are lucky. However, the reality of Steam for indies is often different from consumer belief; many indie devs would be thrilled to sell a few thousand copies of their games. 

 

Overall, my expectations were low and the actual product has been significantly better than expected. 

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1 hour ago, Mockduck said:

I've done my honest video review on YouTube, but I'd say that it is a great and great looking $300 mini PC with its own indie Atari-branded OS, the controllers rock, and it offers a lot of diversity and opportunity. That said, I don't really care if someone else wants one or not; to some extent if you have to go back and forth to find a reason to buy it, maybe don't. But if you see what it offers and find it interesting, you can buy it knowing that it delivers on most of its promises and has been a great little device since Christmas for me. The biggest downside is its 4k delivery, and a weak bluetooth connectivity in some cases. 4K is working quite well actually in PC Mode, but barely functions in AtariOS. In terms of specs, you are getting something equivalent to a $300 laptop, so PC gaming on it is more indie and retro than modern processing-heavy games. 

 

I could actually totally see someone using it as their main computer for work, retro gaming, indie gaming, and general productivity. It doesn't support multiple monitors, though, but not everyone is a two-to-three screen person like me. 

 

There isn't a bad game in the AtariOS, and it really shows the benefit of curation. All of these games could be purchased and played elsewhere, but I haven't because they were lost in a sea of Steam releases and such. Don't buy a VCS looking for exclusives. Honestly, any dev wanting to release a VCS exclusive has got to be ok with just selling a few thousand copies if they are lucky. However, the reality of Steam for indies is often different from consumer belief; many indie devs would be thrilled to sell a few thousand copies of their games. 

 

Overall, my expectations were low and the actual product has been significantly better than expected. 

Thanks; that's exactly what I was looking for. Reading through the endless threads and posts bashing the unit's concept, marketing plan, and execution can be fun, but I found it to be exhausting. 

 

I'd probably buy a unit if they had a wireless keyboard styled to match the base unit. I attempted to contact Atari, but their contact form isn't working.

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59 minutes ago, davidcalgary29 said:

Thanks; that's exactly what I was looking for. Reading through the endless threads and posts bashing the unit's concept, marketing plan, and execution can be fun, but I found it to be exhausting. 

 

I'd probably buy a unit if they had a wireless keyboard styled to match the base unit. I attempted to contact Atari, but their contact form isn't working.

 

Honest review?

 

I'd say it's a well packaged streaming system for Atari fans. It's not breaking any ground, or offering anything that isn't otherwise available from other systems, but it's a decent system... 4k, looks good, fun to play, and has a variety of games that are available for it, most of which I've purchased. I think the controllers are unique and pretty cool, and I've enjoyed it immensely. I've played it more than I have any other system in the past 4 years. Which... honestly isn't saying much because I don't really play a lot of games.

 

I don't think anyone thought it would explode into popularity to compete against the Play Station 5. I think any normal person believed this would be a really cool video game system specifically for Atari fans, and the occasional other person who might be interested. Most of the games available really take advantage of the better graphics, and I certainly enjoy it.

 

It's a bit pricey if you're comparing it to your run of the mill HDMI Streaming Linux-based system... but it's customized for fans of Atari. At this point, I'm not sure there's a lot of overhead beyond making deals and having people develop games for it that are also easily portable to other systems. So I don't know how much it being "dead" is really a thing.

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On 8/15/2021 at 1:13 PM, davidcalgary29 said:

I attempted to contact Atari, but their contact form isn't working.

That's nothing new, and it really says all you need to know about the company.

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I'd largely forgotten about the VCS until the Soulja Boy story popped.  As someone who never thought this thing would see the light of day, here's my take:

 

The people who bought it seem to be happy with it.  Maybe they are fanboys who are blinded by brand loyalty, but does it matter?  They are happy with their purchase. 

 

In terms of the system being dead, I'm not sure it ever had a chance to live.  I don't think it was ever going to sell much beyond the pre-orders.  I mean, the game library is pretty underwhelming, especially for the price.  THAT BEING SAID...

 

This might be blasphemy to some on this site, but if I had to choose between the VCS and the Amico, I'd take the VCS in a heartbeat.  The Amico games shown so far are even more unappealing to me, and the VCS can be used as a fairly competent emulation device, if I needed another one of those.  I never thought I'd say positive things about this system, but here we are.

 

Strange times for the games industry. 

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On 8/15/2021 at 1:14 AM, davidcalgary29 said:

Can you give me an honest review of it? I haven't followed the development of this product. Why do you like it, and how do you use it?

I received mine in June, as a birthday gift. By way of background, I am old school gamer raised on Atari, arcade, and NES, as well as Sega Genesis and computer games. I have drifted in and out of using various consoles and gaming over the years. So heading into this, I had very low expectations. Part of that was born from the lead up and negative PR it got (mostly in hot take YouTube reviews), part of it was comments on this and other forums about lack of development, delays, inept or nonexistent support, Atari as a concept and company, etc. 

 

Ultimately, I am very happy with it. I enjoy the retro feel, modability, and performance so far. I have two kids under ten who I am slowly introducing to games and this was a great match. I had a series of Flashback machines and the like but those don't compare at all, in my opinion. My kids have fallen in love with games like Unsung Warriors and the classic controller, which takes me back to 1985 or whatever. It's a simple system that I plan to add emulators and other things (Batocera, etc) to over time. And I will freely admit I was not interested in buying a new console until I saw the combo of things here tied to Atari and retro/indie gaming. That has currency to me, and I know 99.9994% of the games are available on other platforms and that this current Atari isn't old Atari and all of that. Right now I use it for what I'll call casual daily or at least 3-4x a week gaming, not really active up on the Sandbox mode/PC mode side yet but plan to get to that soon. I enjoy knowing I can tweak that if I want to.

 

To close, I am excited for the new games that may be on the horizon for the VCS and am enjoying going back in time with my kids on games I loved via the Vaults or Antstream, and hope more people will make their way to the platform over time so new content, hopefully, will keep coming. I know that there are other consoles, like the Amico, coming along that could fill many of my same asks but none of those games did anything for me and Intellivision was never a love of mine; Atari and Nintendo were. I look forward to playing the VCS more and while it will likely never capture the imagination of the gaming world it does all I could ask, and looks pretty good doing it. 

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So I have to ask, is the VCS worth it? It seems to me that with the games along with other services and things you can do with it, the VCS maybe a better buy than the Amico. Both are overpriced in my opinion, but if I were to run into both consoles down the road and they'd happen to be the same price, I think I might choose the VCS, or at least strongly consider it. What do you guys say? 

 

I just wish Atari SA and/or Intellivision would get with the older 3rd party publishers like Activision, Sega, Namco, Taito and WB Games (Williams/Midway) and get some of their old libraries available. I would love to see a Defender and Zaxxon Recharged and play the originals on these things.

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The argument for/against the VCS already stretched 162 pages; most people are past caring. :-D 
I'll reply but just once.


The VCS is very "worth it" to me, but I'd never tell anybody else what to do with their own money.
I don't think the VCS is over-priced, but I'm in Europe. Incomes, prices, and value, are so different.

I really think the versatility of it means that it's good value for money; I don't own other consoles
from the current or previous generation, and I don't have a gaming PC. Your mileage may vary! 🙂

As to value for money, on hardware, the VCS and the Amico are worlds apart, in every respect.
The value proposition of the Amico is down to the Amico controllers, and the promised software.

Unfortunately, getting Intellivision and other libraries onto the VCS requires interest from both sides.
As I understand it, Activision are very difficult in that regard.
(Their paid-for 2600 games pack doesn't even work any longer on Android, and they just don't care.)

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1 hour ago, CollectorJeff said:

So I have to ask, is the VCS worth it? It seems to me that with the games along with other services and things you can do with it, the VCS maybe a better buy than the Amico. Both are overpriced in my opinion, but if I were to run into both consoles down the road and they'd happen to be the same price, I think I might choose the VCS, or at least strongly consider it. What do you guys say? 

 

I just wish Atari SA and/or Intellivision would get with the older 3rd party publishers like Activision, Sega, Namco, Taito and WB Games (Williams/Midway) and get some of their old libraries available. I would love to see a Defender and Zaxxon Recharged and play the originals on these things.

For me, it's no contest. The VCS does zilch that I can't do a dozen ways elsewhere and better. The Amico at least promises a somewhat different experience. It's going to live or die by the quality of that experience. For the VCS, I just don't see the appeal unless you're super into the logo or case.

 

In terms of licensing, I think Amico has done a similarly reasonable job with getting licensed content and has thought out of the box a bit again with things like the Cornhole stuff. They're working within their financial limits and doubling down on the alternative/uniqueness plan. Heck, they even have Atari properties.

 

As crazy as it is to say, I don't think Atari has the same resources to license anything and certainly aren't structured in that way as a company. They'll almost certainly just remaster their existing properties, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but also not something that will ever be exclusive to the VCS, so again, not much point to the system in my opinion.

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It really comes down to whether the best looking $300 mini PC is of interest to you. I don't take much stock in the overpriced comments and won't unless/until there's evidence Atari is making a huge profit on the sale of each console. I bet they aren't. The reality is this stuff is getting more expensive, and my experience using the VCS vs. similar-priced laptops has the VCS destroying them in terms of speed and versatility. Atari also can't afford to take a loss in the same way Microsoft and Sony can. There are lots of devices that can do what the VCS does, but so what? If all you want is one device ever at a time, you should probably buy a PC. The video card alone will cost more than the VCS.

 

The Amico might someday be good, but for now it's questionable if it will ever come out, and notice how their original announced $180 console price is now closer to the price of a VCS despite having even worse specs. It will probably be similar to playing low cost mobile games, but also with cool INTV updates, so if you are an INTV fan it'll be great. If it ever comes out. They do have a few shells they are bringing to bars, so it isn't total vaporware at least.

 

I think the biggest current competitor to the VCS, other than a PC which is a competitor I guess to anything that plays video games, is the Nintendo Switch. Both offer good experiences. The VCS has tons more versatility. The Switch offers portability and Nintendo games. 

 

I am super happy with the VCS so far, the thing has made 2021 one of the best years of gaming for me in a long time. I like it a lot more than my PS5, which is both cool and also a bit sad being as I am a lifelong Sony fan. Totally "worth it" in my opinion. 

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2 hours ago, CollectorJeff said:

So I have to ask, is the VCS worth it? It seems to me that with the games along with other services and things you can do with it, the VCS maybe a better buy than the Amico. Both are overpriced in my opinion, but if I were to run into both consoles down the road and they'd happen to be the same price, I think I might choose the VCS, or at least strongly consider it. What do you guys say? 

 

I just wish Atari SA and/or Intellivision would get with the older 3rd party publishers like Activision, Sega, Namco, Taito and WB Games (Williams/Midway) and get some of their old libraries available. I would love to see a Defender and Zaxxon Recharged and play the originals on these things.

On the third party front I totally agree! Having the rest of the retro game world on there would be my biggest wish. Unfortunately, while Activision and other companies felt the need to buy these older libraries, they haven't been very interested in releasing them in recent years. Activision tends to not go for projects that only make a bit of money, given the size and profitability of the things they are doing. It's a bummer, but they'd probably argue they just don't have time to care and it wouldn't be profitable enough. I'd LOVE to see Midway, the Taito collections from PS2, and the Activision Classics come to the VCS. 

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27 minutes ago, Mockduck said:

On the third party front I totally agree! Having the rest of the retro game world on there would be my biggest wish. Unfortunately, while Activision and other companies felt the need to buy these older libraries, they haven't been very interested in releasing them in recent years. Activision tends to not go for projects that only make a bit of money, given the size and profitability of the things they are doing. It's a bummer, but they'd probably argue they just don't have time to care and it wouldn't be profitable enough. I'd LOVE to see Midway, the Taito collections from PS2, and the Activision Classics come to the VCS. 

I would be all over a Midway collection that is updated.

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1 hour ago, Mockduck said:

It really comes down to whether the best looking $300 mini PC is of interest to you. I don't take much stock in the overpriced comments and won't unless/until there's evidence Atari is making a huge profit on the sale of each console. I bet they aren't. The reality is this stuff is getting more expensive, and my experience using the VCS vs. similar-priced laptops has the VCS destroying them in terms of speed and versatility. Atari also can't afford to take a loss in the same way Microsoft and Sony can. There are lots of devices that can do what the VCS does, but so what? If all you want is one device ever at a time, you should probably buy a PC. The video card alone will cost more than the VCS.

 

The Amico might someday be good, but for now it's questionable if it will ever come out, and notice how their original announced $180 console price is now closer to the price of a VCS despite having even worse specs. It will probably be similar to playing low cost mobile games, but also with cool INTV updates, so if you are an INTV fan it'll be great. If it ever comes out. They do have a few shells they are bringing to bars, so it isn't total vaporware at least.

 

I think the biggest current competitor to the VCS, other than a PC which is a competitor I guess to anything that plays video games, is the Nintendo Switch. Both offer good experiences. The VCS has tons more versatility. The Switch offers portability and Nintendo games. 

 

I am super happy with the VCS so far, the thing has made 2021 one of the best years of gaming for me in a long time. I like it a lot more than my PS5, which is both cool and also a bit sad being as I am a lifelong Sony fan. Totally "worth it" in my opinion. 

The VCS doesn't just have to be compared to a laptop, desktop, Steam Deck, or less expensive mini PCs. You can also compare it to an Xbox Series S or X, or an Nvidia Shield. Basically, the devices that can do what the VCS does are endless, and they can often do it much, much better. The point of comparison with the Amico is that while it's nothing special on the hardware front, it's at least attempting something different with the controllers and control schemes and of course has a bunch of exclusive games. There's nothing exclusive on the VCS (that I'm aware of) and there is unlikely to ever be. That was the main point. The VCS really has no appeal outside to a very specific group of people. Its hardware is too weak and it's price too high. It's likely that the Amico has many of the same issues, but it's definitely positioned to at least have the POTENTIAL to be more than that. The VCS has no such potential, realistically speaking. It's already done.

 

It's nice though that you like the VCS better than your PS5. I think you can acknowledge, however, that for 99.9% of people out there, that simply wouldn't be true for them. Again, though, that's OK, because it's pretty clear that Atari already accomplished all of the goals they had in mind. I'm sure they turned a modest profit and got a little more buzz, good or bad, for a while. I still don't see the VCS being a thing past 2022, but we'll see. Stranger things have happened.

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3 hours ago, Mockduck said:

It really comes down to whether the best looking $300 mini PC is of interest to you.

THIS... I was looking for a moderately-powered, cheap-ish micro PC to serve as an all-in-one emulation box. There were a lot of cheap options from overseas, but they were all running the same, super-dated chipsets in generic boxes. Then, the VCS popped on my radar thanks to ETA Prime showing Batocera running super well on it.

 

For me, the VCS is the ultimate micro computer that ALSO happens to have a cool Atari ecosystem that's very console-like. Anyone comparing it to an Xbox or PS-whatever isn't looking at it the right way. Compared to something like an Intel NUC around the same price, the VCS is actually a really, really good deal. 

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55 minutes ago, PaulXMann said:

THIS... I was looking for a moderately-powered, cheap-ish micro PC to serve as an all-in-one emulation box. There were a lot of cheap options from overseas, but they were all running the same, super-dated chipsets in generic boxes. Then, the VCS popped on my radar thanks to ETA Prime showing Batocera running super well on it.

 

For me, the VCS is the ultimate micro computer that ALSO happens to have a cool Atari ecosystem that's very console-like. Anyone comparing it to an Xbox or PS-whatever isn't looking at it the right way. Compared to something like an Intel NUC around the same price, the VCS is actually a really, really good deal. 

The main difference for me is that I would only consider an exbox for emulation.  The VCS, I would like to support Atari's endeavors for having a Linux based OS.

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4 hours ago, Mockduck said:

It really comes down to whether the best looking $300 mini PC is of interest to you. I don't take much stock in the overpriced comments and won't unless/until there's evidence Atari is making a huge profit on the sale of each console. I bet they aren't. The reality is this stuff is getting more expensive, and my experience using the VCS vs. similar-priced laptops has the VCS destroying them in terms of speed and versatility. Atari also can't afford to take a loss in the same way Microsoft and Sony can. There are lots of devices that can do what the VCS does, but so what? If all you want is one device ever at a time, you should probably buy a PC. The video card alone will cost more than the VCS.

Yes all this stuff is getting more expensive, and the VCS isn't such a bad price.  I also notice the detractors like to compare the $399 bundle price instead of the $299 base price..   The mini-PCs they compare it to don't come with any.   I'm sure Atari doesn't get close to the kinds of volume discounts Sony and MS get, so the VCS was never going to match them on power + price.

 

4 hours ago, Mockduck said:

I am super happy with the VCS so far, the thing has made 2021 one of the best years of gaming for me in a long time. I like it a lot more than my PS5, which is both cool and also a bit sad being as I am a lifelong Sony fan. Totally "worth it" in my opinion

PS5 has been a let down so far.  All I've seen so far is slightly graphically enhanced version of PS4 games with shorter loading times.   I haven't found the "now this is next gen!" game yet.   It's kind of sad that I've been more excited for the "Hotwheels Unleashed" game than I am for any other PS5 game releasing soon-  at least until Elden Ring comes next year.

 

5 hours ago, Bill Loguidice said:

For me, it's no contest. The VCS does zilch that I can't do a dozen ways elsewhere and better. The Amico at least promises a somewhat different experience. It's going to live or die by the quality of that experience.

Exactly, and if the games don't deliver, you're stuck with a $249 paperweight.   If the games in the Atari store don't deliver, you still have a full fledged PC.   I wish it well, but to me the Amico looks like too much of a risk right now.     In this day and age it seems like a leap of faith to jump into a proprietary ecosystem that isn't Sony/MS/Nintendo.   It's just too hard for small players to compete.

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My question is, how easy is it to upgrade the hardware on the system to improve it?

 

PC components date very quickly, and since this is a PC-based console, I would want to know how easy it is to improve the hardware as time passes.

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Just now, keithbk said:

My question is, how easy is it to upgrade the hardware on the system to improve it?

 

PC components date very quickly, and since this is a PC-based console, I would want to know how easy it is to improve the hardware as time passes.

It doesn't have PC slots,  so upgrades are limited to what you can connect to the m.2 slot or USB

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