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AtGames 2019 speculation thread

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Well, one that was released. Hardly a good reason to produce a light gun for a 2600 based Flashback.

 

How many games across the entire Atari product line used a light gun? Would it exceed ten? (Including the computers as well as the XE.)

If you include the homebrew "Bobby Needs Food" and the prototype "Shooting Gallery", plus Sentinel, there are a total of three for the 2600. Five for the 7800. Five retail releases for the XE/XL plus about 20-25 homebrews (original games), hacks (standard controller games hacked for light-gun) or playable lightpen games of varying quality. For instance, Operation Blood and Special Forces are hacks of non-light gun games hacked to make them compatible with a light gun. I think "Click!" was an original homebrew made to work with joystick, mouse, light-gun, and a couple other controllers. Five titles are shared by 7800 and XL/XE, one by 2600 and 7800 (Sentinel) and one by 2600 and XL/XE (Shooting Gallery). So, how many there are depends on how you count. Additionally, granted, opinions on what is worth including would likely vary a lot between you, me and AtGames. Maybe as little as 10 or as many as 30.

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Additionally, granted, opinions on what is worth including would likely vary a lot between you, me and AtGames. Maybe as little as 10 or as many as 30.

You have to realise that Atgames are under pressure to meet certain retail price points. They aren't going to gain anything from going down the path of more 'optional' controllers, and they're wary of getting into the Atari computers due to licensing issues with games (let alone the hardware issues, given that you have an entire keyboard).

 

How would you sell this idea to retailers? Like last year’s model, but with some obscure additional platforms and a light gun - oh, and a big hike in the cost.

 

Better for Atgames to make something like 'The 64' for the computer line and sell it direct to that market. The 7800 and 5200 could possibly be handled similarly, but the costs would be much higher than for the mass-market Flashback models.

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There is no chance of any light gun stuff for this year and likely for the years to come. And if anything, it would be for arcade versions, or some mix with arcade stuff, not solely obscure home versions of light gun games. I'm a big fan of those types of games, but I'm just not sure if there's a large enough market there or a big enough pool of notable games to license.

Unfortunately, I have no update on the Blast! P2 controllers or FB 9 paddles.

 

Our big new push for this year is going to be for the home arcade machine and any potential variations thereof.

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Took the words right out of my mouth.

 

I'd say at this point AtGames has the same attitude towards paddles as boggis has about light guns, even though the paddle games are already on the system.

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You have to realise that Atgames are under pressure to meet certain retail price points. They aren't going to gain anything from going down the path of more 'optional' controllers, and they're wary of getting into the Atari computers due to licensing issues with games (let alone the hardware issues, given that you have an entire keyboard).

 

How would you sell this idea to retailers? Like last year’s model, but with some obscure additional platforms and a light gun - oh, and a big hike in the cost.

 

Better for Atgames to make something like 'The 64' for the computer line and sell it direct to that market. The 7800 and 5200 could possibly be handled similarly, but the costs would be much higher than for the mass-market Flashback models.

 

I'm just saying what I would buy. I've bought a few flashbacks in the past and I never use them, so I doubt I'll buy any more. My PC emulator (Stella) or the real thing have been better. I never bought the C64 mini because a retropie or PC emulator is easier to use and doesn't take up more space. I do realize that I am not their market, it is the impulse holiday buy, but why should I care what supports that market since it is not my market. The Atari light gun games are not already covered in a decent manner by PC emulators or retropie and the real hardware could use an upgrade.

 

I also don't see how a "the 64" version of the XL/XE would work since the C64 mini is already selling at 50% off clearance prices and "the 64" will likely sell worse at a higher price."

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Modify existing paddle controllers.

 

That's not the consumers responsibility.

 

or wait until Atgames make theirs available

 

 

Hope springs eternal but if there's no word now, I doubt they appear for this years model. I don't think ATgames cares about the 2018 lineup anymore, it's not on their radar anymore because. . .

 

Our big new push for this year is going to be for the home arcade machine and any potential variations thereof.

 

 

 

They've already moved on to bigger and better. . . well. . . bigger things.

Edited by AtariLeaf
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It's not the responsibility of AtGames, either. They're a private business, have never made even an unofficial guarantee of selling a solution, and are entirely within their rights if they never supply an optional Flashback 9 paddle controller to sell.

 

Yet if one does want to utilize a paddle controller on their Flashback 9 now, Boggis is entirely correct in pointing out that it can be done right now (And apparently with a fair degree of success and with little difficulty, judging by reports here) rather than waiting on AtGames to potentially provide the accessory.

Edited by Atariboy

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Boggis is entirely correct in pointing out that it can be done right now (And apparently with a fair degree of success and with little difficulty, judging by reports here) rather than waiting on AtGames to potentially provide the accessory.

You have to swap out the 1MOhm linear potentiometer for a 10KOhm linear type. It does require soldering, and likely some modification of the new potentiometer shaft if you want to use the original knobs.

 

So it isn't trivial, but it also isn't a huge issue.

 

If Atgames never get the paddles out, perhaps someone with stocks of the original paddles would be willing to modify them for a Flashback 9 compatible option?

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It's not the responsibility of AtGames, either. They're a private business, have never made even an unofficial guarantee of selling a solution, and are entirely within their rights if they never supply an optional Flashback 9 paddle controller to sell.

 

Yet if one does want to utilize a paddle controller on their Flashback 9 now, Boggis is entirely correct in pointing out that it can be done right now (And apparently with a fair degree of success and with little difficulty, judging by reports here) rather than waiting on AtGames to potentially provide the accessory.

 

Technically you're right but reputable companies at least try to do right by their consumers, at least the ones who want repeat business. Lets face it, we're not talking about a known company of quality here with a great reputation. I mentioned in another thread that 100% of Flashback units came back to one local EB Games. So no they don't HAVE to provide paddles but it's another blotch on the record of a company that can't really afford more blotches.

 

The solution is very simple - don't put paddle games with a separate paddle category if you can't or won't provide paddles. The fact that they've done it for past models makes it a reasonable request and the fact that they made the flashback this way tells me they were going to do paddles, Bill has stated as much, but for whatever reason they became unwilling or more likely, incapable of following through.

 

This is a company that now wants to sell what I assume is a fairly expensive arcade unit. If they can't or are unwilling to provide simple paddles for a cheap consumer product, what in gods name do you think they'll be able to do with an expensive arcade unit?

 

Final point, I won't cannibalize good working real paddles for one of these things, no matter how easy the job, no way in hell.

Edited by AtariLeaf
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I don't disagree about including paddle games.

 

Not so much with previous iterations since compatibility with legacy controllers is advertised. I think it would've been fair game to toss them in and leave it up to the customer to log into Ebay and buy paddles (And unless you bought at Sam's Club or were one of the relative few to buy paddles from the AtGames store, that's what customers of the standard definition iterations have had to do). But here with the FB9 Gold, I tend to agree with you.

 

If it were me, instead of including these games for the sake of being able to say they're included (Even though they're essentially unplayable with joystick control), I'd of locked them Flashback 2 style. Then with the documentation provided when the Flashback 9 specific paddle controller was made available, include the unlock code to make them visible.

 

I'm sure they'd take flak though by advertising that you'll get Super Breakout and other such games by buying the paddle controller. People will realize they were already included from day 1 and the cynics will interpret it as AtGames forcing you to buy their accessory just to access games already on their system. And when the unlock code is discovered and posted online, they'll accuse AtGames of deliberately locking out existing paddle controllers when they discover their existing paddle controllers don't work.

 

So in a way, AtGames just can't win here with paddle games. Perhaps it would've been best to ignore paddle games entirely with the Flashback 9 Gold and just leave the standalone Blast unit to accommodate those customers (Which isn't nearly as bad as it's made out to be, unless you're in the rare situation of actually being able to routinely get 3-4 player multiplayer going in games like Warlords, which is impossible at least for now with the Blast).

 

And going forward when the accessory is produced, only include paddle games on those SKU's that include the controller out of the box.

Edited by Atariboy
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I don't disagree about including paddle games.

 

Not so much with previous iterations since compatibility with legacy controllers is advertised. I think it would've been fair game to toss them in and leave it up to the customer to log into Ebay and buy paddles (And unless you bought at Sam's Club or were one of the relative few to buy paddles from the AtGames store, that's what customers of the standard definition iterations have had to do). But here with the FB9 Gold, I tend to agree with you.

 

If it were me, instead of including these games for the sake of being able to say they're included (Even though they're essentially unplayable with joystick control), I'd of locked them Flashback 2 style. Then with the documentation provided when the Flashback 9 specific paddle controller was made available, include the unlock code to make them visible.

 

I'm sure they'd take flak though by advertising that you'll get Super Breakout and other such games by buying the paddle controller. People will realize they were already included from day 1 and the cynics will interpret it as AtGames forcing you to buy their accessory just to access games already on their system. And when the unlock code is discovered and posted online, they'll accuse AtGames of deliberately locking out existing paddle controllers when they discover their existing paddle controllers don't work.

 

So in a way, AtGames just can't win here with paddle games. Perhaps it would've been best to ignore paddle games entirely with the Flashback 9 Gold and just leave the standalone Blast unit to accommodate those customers (Which isn't nearly as bad as it's made out to be, unless you're in the rare situation of actually being able to routinely get 3-4 player multiplayer going in games like Warlords, which is impossible at least for now with the Blast).

 

And going forward when the accessory is produced, only include paddle games on those SKU's that include the controller out of the box.

 

I think that's the best solution. Maybe release the base unit flashback sans paddle games at a slightly cheaper price point, and promote the blast paddles more. IIRC the Blast paddle units are Walmart exclusive? Maybe make them more widely available. I'm not sure why that particular one needs to be sold by Walmart only but I've never seen one in a Walmart in my part of Canada. I've only seen the Namco one with the NES roms and the one with Centipede on the cover which I think is just random 2600 games.

 

BTW, has the whole Namco unit fiasco with the NES vs arcade versions ever been resolved? Supposedly they were going to release the proper units down the road.

Edited by AtariLeaf
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No word yet on when the revised Namco unit will appear. My hunch as an outside observer like yourself is that it won't be before Fall. I can't imagine there's much retailer demand for AtGames systems until the Christmas shopping season nears.

 

It's too bad there hadn't been a way for AtGames to kill two birds with one stone by enabling the Blast unit to also serve as paddle controllers on the Flashback 9. The emulation isn't perfect and the screen filtering isn't something I'd of personally gone with on their paddle system, but the feel of the paddles themselves are very good and seem to be of quality construction.

 

Would've been a sensible option in my eyes to take advantage of this accessory by allowing it to be paired up with their Flashback 9 system somehow.

Edited by Atariboy
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No word yet on when the revised Namco unit will appear. My hunch as an outside observer like yourself is that it won't be before Fall. I can't imagine there's much retailer demand for AtGames systems until the Christmas shopping season nears.

 

 

 

You're probably right. It seems they abandon the current years line shortly after they're released. Based on what I've read here at AA, they are not that good at responding to customers about problems and concerns if they get back to them at all. This is a reason I'd be very wary of any expensive arcade units they plan to make. I get people are excited but I've seen nothing from ATgames that would make me throw hundreds of dollars at them. I'll watch carefully though and see what transpires. I would actually LIKE to be wrong about my perception of this company as I know I'm perceived as a hater (and i do admit I take my cheap shots at the company at times, I'm only human) I always have hope but dammit if I'm not Charlie Brown constantly trying to kick that football only to have it yanked out from me at the last minute.

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Final point, I won't cannibalize good working real paddles for one of these things, no matter how easy the job, no way in hell.

 

You only replace the pot. The original can be soldered back in. Its non-destructive and reversible.

 

I would suggest that you mod non-working or glitchy paddle controllers as they're likely to have worn out pots anyway.

 

Also, I have just been fiddling about to see if it's possible to get the standard 1MOhm pots to work by putting additional capacitance in the circuit, but have had no luck at all with this. The traces from the ports disappear into the microcontroller, so without a lot more effort it seems replacing the pot is the way to go. Or not, if you prefer complaining about a fixable problem.

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You only replace the pot. The original can be soldered back in. Its non-destructive and reversible.

 

I would suggest that you mod non-working or glitchy paddle controllers as they're likely to have worn out pots anyway.

 

Also, I have just been fiddling about to see if it's possible to get the standard 1MOhm pots to work by putting additional capacitance in the circuit, but have had no luck at all with this. The traces from the ports disappear into the microcontroller, so without a lot more effort it seems replacing the pot is the way to go. Or not, if you prefer complaining about a fixable problem.

 

I have fixed glitchy paddles, many times. Not the issue. The issue as you so glibly put it, is that it IS easily fixable. The issue is not that ATgames can't it's that they seem to have no desire. I'm wary of any company that wants a lot of money for a product and then disappears into the ether, leaving us to solve problems they can't or are unwilling to fix, rearing their heads only when they have something else to sell us. Hyperkin has the same reputation. Sorry I'm not dropping a hundred bucks on a console that I have to McGyver to make a good portion of the games even playable. If I'm going to screw around like that, I'll just buy a pi and a stella adapter.

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... The issue is not that ATgames can't it's that they seem to have no desire.....

... I think that my new stance on AtGames is that given I am not their target market (as reported multiple times by their own PR here on the forums) I may as well ignore for the purpose of purchasing any and all of their products as they are certain to be severely disappointing to me, but not ignoring them for the purpose of critiquing, it's actually liberating not being "the target" for once as I can reserve the right to warn whoever I want of what I believe their "target market" is, so that if these people feel like they should not fit that definition (what's that again? casual gamer & impulse buyer) they can avoid the purchase altogether as well or better put their money elsewhere.

 

It's getting to the point of being ridiculous if you think about it, advertise new products on a forum of old farts like us that in many cases posses the real deal and also know you can do so much better than the last ?? [<-- you tell me] years and at the same time state that we're not the target ..... mhhhh .... say what?

I am not even sure what to make when many say AtGames got better year after year ..... whether they did or not you've got to admit if that was your own hard earned cash on the line you'd be less lenient .... remember "fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me, fool me three times ........ (shame on Lee)"!

 

You do with your cash as you please and so do I, I was really really, freaking really looking forward to the Namco Blast! unit ... I'm so monumentally pissed that I now have this vein pulsating in the middle of my forehead that's about to pop every time AtGames is named ..... for the past few months we had to hear the mantra about an announcement to make it right and to tell us when the actual advertised arcade unit was supposed to come out (remember the swap was supposed to happen at retail anytime after the NES version shipped because of some undisclosed manufacturing issues) ... it's just about to be mid February so there's plenty of time .... we'll see.

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... I think that my new stance on AtGames is that given I am not their target market (as reported multiple times by their own PR here on the forums) I may as well ignore for the purpose of purchasing any and all of their products as they are certain to be severely disappointing to me, but not ignoring them for the purpose of critiquing, it's actually liberating not being "the target" for once as I can reserve the right to warn whoever I want of what I believe their "target market" is, so that if these people feel like they should not fit that definition (what's that again? casual gamer & impulse buyer) they can avoid the purchase altogether as well or better put their money elsewhere.

 

I would say "I am" their target audience... a 40-something male who grew up playing Atari back in the day, but is not a "hardcore video gamer" or "collector". I have purchased a number of $20 plug n' plays at Walmart over the years and casually got my gaming fix. But when the batteries died, so did my interest. Mostly because I couldn't play all the games I played when I was a kid. I even invested $100+ on the Raspberry Pi and accessories, downloaded the roms, read hundreds of Reddit pages getting my system customized, but I never got a good Atari 2600 experience. Same thing with PC emulators.

 

This Flashback 9 is the best product for me - decent joysticks and play action. Works out of the box, relatively good game selection and with the SD card, I can now play EVERY game I had back in the day for JUST $45 DOLLARS! (Actually, I sprang $69 for Gold version with the wireless controllers. I may never go back to wired joysticks!)

 

Sure, it should have had the paddles. Sure, it should have had more quality control. But I don't expect much from it except for it to work (which mine does.) Certainly, I don't expect it to last 40 years like the original hardware. The price point for the FBs is perfect for what it is - something that has to last as long as my interest in it lasts. I sure ATGames realizes that.

 

I'm still playing it 3 months later, but that's because my batteries are still good.

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....

 

Sure, it should have had the paddles. Sure, it should have had more quality control. But I don't expect much from it except for it to work (which mine does.) Certainly, I don't expect it to last 40 years like the original hardware. The price point for the FBs is perfect for what it is - something that has to last as long as my interest in it lasts. I sure ATGames realizes that.

 

I'm still playing it 3 months later, but that's because my batteries are still good.

I cannot agree more with this statement, I am 100% sure they are relying on the behavior you describe (nothing wrong with it per se mind you).

Their whole marketing strategy including some "unwise" [to me] decisions MUST be because of that.

As you know there are 2 FB9s (non Gold)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atari_Flashback#Atari_Flashback_9

with the second non HD version catching by surprise even Bill here on the forums as it was released with basically no announcement

(reportedly justified by retailers wanting a cheaper version ... guess the other one missed the "impulse buy" mark).

 

I'm glad you bought the Gold which does not appear to have been released in dual version. I am also glad you like it.

 

Now wrt target audience, did you also buy FB6/7/8? Do you plan on buying FB10? .... reason I ask is that if you bought all of FB6/7/8/9 you're probably out > 200US$ by now on their products which is quite a lot of leeway imho (but we can disagree on that, just pointing out that probably a recurrent buyer is not directly in their target audience for the FB series).

 

If you didn't and don't plan to buy the next FB10 then again I ask who's the audience? One and done kind of a buyer? Buy one every 3 to 5 years? Buyer who waits for the big discount/clearance and buys at 50%-60% or less? Someone that buys as a gift to someone else?

Is that what "casual & impulse" means to them? How about other companies? [Hyperkin, RetroBit etc...]

(I am not feigning ignorance just interested, somewhat Bill hinted that these kind of products can sell in high numbers in the order of multiple 100Ks)

 

And wrt to the paddle and FB9G it's on their freaking website about it:

https://www.atgames.us/pages/faq

 

11) Some Atari games were designed to work with paddle controllers. Where and how do get I get them?

All Atari Flashback games, even those originally designed for paddle controllers, are playable with joysticks. The reason why users opt to purchase paddle controllers is to have more precise control for games originally designed for that format, or, with two sets of paddle controllers, to play select games that support up to four players at once. You will soon be able to purchase additional paddles from the AtGames eCommerce Store or other eCommerce sites.

 

If they didn't plan to release them why advertise them? Your point of view of "once the batteries run out ....." may explain lots of it.

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I'm sure it would never happen, but I would love to see a Magnavox Odyssey 2 flashback. I always wanted one, there was a department store at the local mall that had one on display and I would play it a lot.

 

However, if the Colecovision didn't exactly fly off of shelves...

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I'm sure it would never happen, but I would love to see a Magnavox Odyssey 2 flashback. I always wanted one, there was a department store at the local mall that had one on display and I would play it a lot.

 

However, if the Colecovision didn't exactly fly off of shelves...

 

I agree, I doubt it would sell well. I'm hoping the Collectorvision Phoenix eventually does an O2 core at least we know it'll probably be done right.

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Now wrt target audience, did you also buy FB6/7/8? Do you plan on buying FB10? .... reason I ask is that if you bought all of FB6/7/8/9 you're probably out > 200US$ by now on their products which is quite a lot of leeway imho (but we can disagree on that, just pointing out that probably a recurrent buyer is not directly in their target audience for the FB series).

 

If you didn't and don't plan to buy the next FB10 then again I ask who's the audience? One and done kind of a buyer? Buy one every 3 to 5 years? Buyer who waits for the big discount/clearance and buys at 50%-60% or less? Someone that buys as a gift to someone else?

Is that what "casual & impulse" means to them? How about other companies? [Hyperkin, RetroBit etc...]

(I am not feigning ignorance just interested, somewhat Bill hinted that these kind of products can sell in high numbers in the order of multiple 100Ks)

 

I have purchased the FB2, the FB4 (the Sams Club Anniversary set with IR Joysticks & paddles & collectible posters!), the FB8 (composite version, $20 with discounts and coupons at Bed Bath & Beyond), and now the FB9. I also received plug n' plays for Intellivision, Activision, Jakks TV Atari Paddles and a Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith game as gifts or impulse buys. Most of which have since been sold at yard sales or donated to Goodwill. The FB2 & the SW game are packed away in my closest.

 

Presently, I have no plans to purchase the FB10 as long as my FB9 Gold still works. But the HD flashbacks do seem to have a big point of failure in the controllers. If they break, there's no way to access the menu to select games (as I can find), to say nothing about rewind and save states. It's not ideal to keep switching the unit on and off to get back to the menu multiple times in a single gaming session, especially since these consoles are now booting up software instead of running off a chip. I suspect there's the possibility of corruption by doing that.

 

Now if I were a conspiracy theorist, I would say ATGames purposely wants us to buy the FB every year, and certainly the FB10. Joystick failure is a real concern. Adding potentially joystick busting games like "Track & Field" and "Decathlon" fuels into that fear, yet there is no advertised way on the website to buy or replace the controllers (how long does the warranty last, 90 days?) They've also included a dozen paddle games, including the most famous ones, yet changed the paddles' programming so you can't use previous controllers, and they offer no means to obtain their new specialized controllers (aside from the user electrically hacking into old paddles). The company line is "The new paddles are coming...!" And each year, the company releases multiple versions of the same product with store-specific features/games/SKUs, hoping that collectors will try to "catch 'em all". Hmmm.... very shrewd, Dr. Evil! ;-)

 

But for the time being, I'm happy with my purchase. I would say I do buy from ATGames every 3 to 5 years. $20-$60 dollars each purchase over that time frame doesn't seem that expensive to me.

 

So maybe they know me better than I know myself...?

Edited by radiohead
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