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The Atari VCS Controversies Thread

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2 hours ago, orange808 said:

So, as we've been saying all along.  It completely gets its ass handed to it by hardware released all the way back in 2014.  All for only $400.  I get more impressed every day.

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Maybe one of the most odd driving reasons I remain interested in this thing, classic Atari or non, is that I genuinely wonder if anything we could describe as a "new console" from Atari will ever happen again. Considering we had a 27 year wait between the Jaguar and the VCS, another 20-something year wait would put me in my late 60s when the next "new Atari system" drops. Not saying I won't pick up a new console then, but probably a stretch. AARP subscription and coupons on the other hand, now I am 100% in. The allure of having a new Atari product now, to show my kids, flawed as it is, is one of the pathetic romantic appeals to me. The return on investment is still out of whack IMHO, but I get the draw for some. 

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7 minutes ago, Stephen said:

So, as we've been saying all along.  It completely gets its ass handed to it by hardware released all the way back in 2014.  All for only $400.  I get more impressed every day.

Sure, but can cheap hardware released way back in 2014 play classic games from the Atari Vault?   Oh, wait...

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1 minute ago, Atarick said:

Maybe one of the most odd driving reasons I remain interested in this thing, classic Atari or non, is that I genuinely wonder if anything we could describe as a "new console" from Atari will ever happen again. Considering we had a 27 year wait between the Jaguar and the VCS, another 20-something year wait would put me in my 60s when the next "new Atari system" drops. Not saying I won't pick up a new console then, but probably a stretch. AARP subscription and coupons on the other hand, now I am 100% in. The allure of having a new Atari product now, to show my kids, flawed as it is, is one of the pathetic romantic appeals to me. The return on investment is still out of whack IMHO, but I get the appeal for some. 

 

I would only be interested in a new Atari console if it were an actual console purpose-designed for playing games and bringing something new to the table.  As Nintendo has shown, you don't have to compete with Sony and Microsoft as long as you provide your own take on console design.  Of course, Nintendo has the considerable advantage of arguably the best games IP in history... 

 

The console would  have to avoid the mistakes of Ouya while filling some new niche not current covered by the big three. 

 

From what little I've read, Amico is trying to do something like that, which I can respect even if I have no interest in what they're offering.

 

Anyway, first step would be for someone who actually cared to get ownership of the Atari name.  Next step would be for them to be both competent and determined.  I have no expectations of this happening with Atari, unfortunately.

 

 

 

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54 minutes ago, jamm said:

I'm still pissed that anyone would dare mention VCS2020 in the same breath as the venerable Lynx.  <Mostly joking...>

 

Not only was the Lynx a proper console by every definition of the word, but it had very tangible connections to the Atari lineage!  It was designed* by two guys who worked on the Amiga (R. J. Mical and Dave Needle) after prompting from Amiga's co-founder, David Morse.  Hopefully I don't have to explain how the Amiga was connected to Atari.  Its multi-chip design had obvious inspirations from the Amiga and the Atari 8bits before it - all part of what one might call "the Jay Miner family".

 

If Atari had had better management over the years and not lost all its excellent engineering talent in the late 70's, the Lynx is very much what they would have produced in-house.

 

Never soil the sweet memory of the Lynx again! 

1111.jpg

 

 

 

 

* The only aspect of the VCS2020 hardware one might described as "designed" is the case. The stuff inside the case is strictly a PC.

 

 

Perhaps I'm wrong on this, but by what I have heard, the Tramiels were also far more involved in the design process of their products from the ST through the Jaguar than just giving the head nod of "yep, that's Fuji logo worthy." Leonard in particular was the engineering guy of the family and was constantly involved in things, by what he has said on Facebook regarding the Panther and Jaguar and some other projects (haven't seen him discuss the Lynx). Pretty sure he did more than just stand around and goof off with the systems while the designer stood around with their hands down their pants. 

 

195278518_VCSDevelopment3.jpeg.d3c216dc7a78241cde7a8913f9b51a05.jpeg

 

Hopefully Marty will be able to finish the "Atari Corp. - War Is Business" book so that we get more of that Tramiel-era info out into the open. 

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3 minutes ago, Shaggy the Atarian said:

Perhaps I'm wrong on this, but by what I have heard, the Tramiels were also far more involved in the design process of their products from the ST through the Jaguar than just giving the head nod of "yep, that's Fuji logo worthy." Leonard in particular was the engineering guy of the family and was constantly involved in things, by what he has said on Facebook regarding the Panther and Jaguar and some other projects (haven't seen him discuss the Lynx). Pretty sure he did more than just stand around and goof off with the systems while the designer stood around with their hands down their pants. 

 

195278518_VCSDevelopment3.jpeg.d3c216dc7a78241cde7a8913f9b51a05.jpeg

 

Hopefully Marty will be able to finish the "Atari Corp. - War Is Business" book so that we get more of that Tramiel-era info out into the open. 

This honestly looks like 2/3rds down the road for an SNL sketch. All that's missing is an ill-conceived mascot they plan on using for marketing (I'm thinking some sort of cat/moose hybrid), played by Harry Styles, featuring a corny, inappropriate jingle that sounds like it came out of a 1970s adult movie soundtrack. 

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34 minutes ago, jamm said:

 

I would only be interested in a new Atari console if it were an actual console purpose-designed for playing games and bringing something new to the table.  As Nintendo has shown, you don't have to compete with Sony and Microsoft as long as you provide your own take on console design.  Of course, Nintendo has the considerable advantage of arguably the best games IP in history... 

 

The console would  have to avoid the mistakes of Ouya while filling some new niche not current covered by the big three. 

 

From what little I've read, Amico is trying to do something like that, which I can respect even if I have no interest in what they're offering.

Agreed, had Atari done more of the Amico approach on content, then I think there would be a lot less reason to roll the eyes at the VCS. Given that the Amico will have more original Atari content on it than the VCS does has long been a head scratcher...but also as we had discussed some pages back, the main problems for Atari is 1) No one around with a vision or actual connection to the IP 2) The IP has been pretty stagnant since most of it was invented, at a time where arcade-style play ruled the day. Atari SA has done little to move the ball forward on that, other than some poor attempts on Haunted House and Yars Revenge a few years back. Although to be fair, at least they have Missile Command: Recharged on it. Just too bad for them and for backers that MCR is available on other platforms. 

 

If they did have a brand new, exclusive renditions of Yars Revenge, Adventure, Star Raiders or Centipede, then yeah, it'd be much easier to find something positive to say about it.  I think that's what we all would have preferred to see back when the concept was first floated.

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8 minutes ago, Shaggy the Atarian said:

Perhaps I'm wrong on this, but by what I have heard, the Tramiels were also far more involved in the design process of their products from the ST through the Jaguar than just giving the head nod of "yep, that's Fuji logo worthy." Leonard in particular was the engineering guy of the family and was constantly involved in things, by what he has said on Facebook regarding the Panther and Jaguar and some other projects (haven't seen him discuss the Lynx). Pretty sure he did more than just stand around and goof off with the systems while the designer stood around with their hands down their pants. 

Honestly, this was likely a bug rather than a feature. Nepostism isn't usually super effective, and given the reputation the Tramiels brought over from Commodore (especially with respect to how they treated their dealer networks) I imagine making a break would have been wiser.

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1 hour ago, jamm said:

I'm still pissed that anyone would dare mention VCS2020 in the same breath as the venerable Lynx.  <Mostly joking...>

 

Not only was the Lynx a proper console by every definition of the word, but it had very tangible connections to the Atari lineage!  It was designed* by two guys who worked on the Amiga (R. J. Mical and Dave Needle) after prompting from Amiga's co-founder, David Morse.  Hopefully I don't have to explain how the Amiga was connected to Atari.  Its multi-chip design had obvious inspirations from the Amiga and the Atari 8bits before it - all part of what one might call "the Jay Miner family".

 

Wow, that is a stretch!   By that logic, the Atari VCS has USB ports which were designed by Joseph Decuir, who also designed the SIO ports on Atari 8-bit line,  so the VCS has Atari legacy built in.

 

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From the igg page:
image.thumb.png.fe19e8276eca4935a5ab3b29f94bf5d3.png

Not even remotely surprised.  More excuses.
Someone was saying they ordered day 1 hour 1 and still don't have tracking info.

5 days into shipping that they said would take 8-10 days, and they still aren't done shipping hour 1 orders?

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, jamm said:

As Nintendo has shown, you don't have to compete with Sony and Microsoft as long as you provide your own take on console design.  Of course, Nintendo has the considerable advantage of arguably the best games IP in history... 

 

1 hour ago, jamm said:

Anyway, first step would be for someone who actually cared to get ownership of the Atari name.  Next step would be for them to be both competent and determined.

Care, competence and determination will only get you so far.   One ingredient that Nintendo has that Atari no longer does is deep pockets.   I'm sure the current owners would love to do so much more with Atari, but finances determine what they can actually do.   That's why they sign all these licensing deals for the name,  it brings in cash.   A new owner would be stuck in the same situation.    The only way I could see it happening is if a company with big pockets like Amazon, or Google bought the Atari name and used it to market their gaming efforts.

 

Then again, Infogrames tried that when they were a much bigger company and they only went downhill. 

 

At this point we should be happy with what we get, because Atari nostalgia has a limited shelf life.

40 minutes ago, Shaggy the Atarian said:

Perhaps I'm wrong on this, but by what I have heard, the Tramiels were also far more involved in the design process of their products from the ST through the Jaguar than just giving the head nod of "yep, that's Fuji logo worthy."

ST was not designed to be an Atari product.    And Jaguar was a desperate attempt to save the company after they pissed most of their gaming market share by not innovating in the console market.

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Has anyone ever gone into detail on what's being shown in that VCS2020 group photo with the motherboard in the foreground?  That doesn't look like a PC layout, and I can't identify what those six wide ports are up front. Is it even related to the VCS2020 design?

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1 minute ago, jamm said:

Has anyone ever gone into detail on what's being shown in that VCS2020 group photo with the motherboard in the foreground?  That doesn't look like a PC layout, and I can't identify what those six wide ports are up front. Is it even related to the VCS2020 design?

I think someone figured out it was an AMD dev board of some sort.

If I recall correctly it didn't even use the same chipset that the VCS was using at the time.

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7 minutes ago, zzip said:

 

Care, competence and determination will only get you so far.   One ingredient that Nintendo has that Atari no longer does is deep pockets.   I'm sure the current owners would love to do so much more with Atari, but finances determine what they can actually do.   That's why they sign all these licensing deals for the name,  it brings in cash.   A new owner would be stuck in the same situation.    The only way I could see it happening is if a company with big pockets like Amazon, or Google bought the Atari name and used it to market their gaming efforts.

Yep. Good-hearted companies are nice, but ultimately it's the backing that keeps them afloat, innovating and producing. Earlier in the thread we brought up nostalgia; for any kid born after about 1995, Atari was kind of an afterthought (if not a punchline), while for kids born after about 2005 it was almost completely invisible. I'm not guessing that many millennials are clamoring for their iPhones to play the 9th version of "Roller Coaster Tycoon", or if they are, if they even know that company once made consoles.

 

Ultimately, this is a project for a company with a toe in the gaming world and some other sort of media venture. Someone who can market, test, develop, and saturate the hell out of it. I'll know Atari is back when I can walk into a Target and see it sitting on the shelf, games and all. Not a Flashback, not a Fuji logo on a retro port handheld, but a real gaming device. To do that, it will take an almost unspeakable sum of money in today's climate. It's a finite pool to draw from. Part of me does wonder if the media/film crash that is affecting that industry opens the door for a big studio or production firm to take a look at gaming as a way of diversifying. To some extent most have already done this, but I'm saying repurposing a large tranche of studio funds for gaming development. The market is there, and for many of these film companies, they need to figure out what to do with the huge enterprise they've built. 

 

Outside of that, and the FAANG corporations like those you name above, I struggle to see what other businesses or corporations would have the stomach or resources to really dent the gaming world in the way one would need to for a sustained impact. The magic combo to me is deep pockets and a folksy approach to outreach and game development. Imagine the sort of organic development that the Amico had with a huge capital base and nostalgic appeal. Maybe that can attract some curious billion-dollar exec somewhere. 

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7 minutes ago, Atarick said:

I'll know Atari is back when I can walk into a Target and see it sitting on the shelf, games and all. Not a Flashback, not a Fuji logo on a retro port handheld, but a real gaming device. To do that, it will take an almost unspeakable sum of money in today's climate.

FWIW,  the AtariVCS is listed for sale on the Walmart and Gamestop websites.   It remains to be seen if they will show up on store shelves.   I think there's a good chance because they carry so many retro devices now,  plus electronics sections used to be filled with all sorts of devices that barely exist anymore-- boomboxes, landline phones, answering machines, portable music players.  The smartphone has killed so many devices, and digital downloads mean their CD, Movie and Game sections are shrinking too.    So retailers have more shelf space to take chances on stuff like this now.

 

13 minutes ago, Atarick said:

Outside of that, and the FAANG corporations like those you name above, I struggle to see what other businesses or corporations would have the stomach or resources to really dent the gaming world in the way one would need to for a sustained impact. The magic combo to me is deep pockets and a folksy approach to outreach and game development. Imagine the sort of organic development that the Amico had with a huge capital base and nostalgic appeal. Maybe that can attract some curious billion-dollar exec somewhere. 

Exactly,  I don't see Atari challenging the big three, but that was never what AtariVCS was about.   Niche "micro-consoles" are a fairly big thing, with entries like Amico, and Playdate, etc.   The Gen-Xers that these are meant to appeal to are now in their peak earning years with money to spend on stuff that maybe doesn't make sense..    But consider this scenario:

Kids: "What do we get dad for Christmas this year, he has everything?"

Mom: "Look at this Atari VCS thing, he used to love Atari growning up"

Kids: "It even plays Minecraft and Fortnite?  Cool, now we can teach him how to play, perfect!"

So I can see a lot of them being sold as gifts for a hard to buy for parent.

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30 minutes ago, zzip said:

Exactly,  I don't see Atari challenging the big three, but that was never what AtariVCS was about.   Niche "micro-consoles" are a fairly big thing, with entries like Amico, and Playdate, etc.   The Gen-Xers that these are meant to appeal to are now in their peak earning years with money to spend on stuff that maybe doesn't make sense..    But consider this scenario:

Kids: "What do we get dad for Christmas this year, he has everything?"

Mom: "Look at this Atari VCS thing, he used to love Atari growning up"

Kids: "It even plays Minecraft and Fortnite?  Cool, now we can teach him how to play, perfect!"

So I can see a lot of them being sold as gifts for a hard to buy for parent.

But why would the dad, who apparently knows enough about video games to know what Atari is, not want to play Minecraft and Fortnight on a PS5 or Switch?

 

 

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8 hours ago, mr_me said:

That's why it is important for people who do know, to word it correctly.  You could say it's the first console from a company called Atari in over 25+ years.

 

And by the way the original atari that became atari games in 1984, although the development studio and factories closed many years ago, is in fact owned by Warner Brothers today.  Last I heard they were trying to sell all their video game properties.

It would be nice if Atari, SA could buy back all the atari properties owned by other companies.   It would certainly be cool to have all the stuff under one roof again.   

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1 minute ago, AlecRob said:

It would be nice if Atari, SA could buy back all the atari properties owned by other companies.   It would certainly be cool to have all the stuff under one roof again.   

Yes, let's give them more stuff to screw up.

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2 minutes ago, godslabrat said:

Yes, let's give them more stuff to screw up.

At least then if someone were to buy the company, they would get EVERYTHING.

 

besides, i would love to see a new battlezone on VCS.  Perhaps with psychedelic tempest 4000 visuals.

Edited by AlecRob

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19 minutes ago, godslabrat said:

But why would the dad, who apparently knows enough about video games to know what Atari is, not want to play Minecraft and Fortnight on a PS5 or Switch?

Assuming he has a console at all.   But my kid always has an ulterior motive to try to get me to play his favorite games with him, so I could totally see that kind of rationalization.  :)   

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1 hour ago, zzip said:

 

Care, competence and determination will only get you so far.   One ingredient that Nintendo has that Atari no longer does is deep pockets.   I'm sure the current owners would love to do so much more with Atari, but finances determine what they can actually do.   That's why they sign all these licensing deals for the name,  it brings in cash.   A new owner would be stuck in the same situation.    The only way I could see it happening is if a company with big pockets like Amazon, or Google bought the Atari name and used it to market their gaming efforts.

 

Then again, Infogrames tried that when they were a much bigger company and they only went downhill. 

 

At this point we should be happy with what we get, because Atari nostalgia has a limited shelf life.

ST was not designed to be an Atari product.    And Jaguar was a desperate attempt to save the company after they pissed most of their gaming market share by not innovating in the console market.

At the end of the day the ST was still an Atari product, and you're oversimplifying the market situation of the late 80s/early 90s(you honestly think that the Lynx wasn't innovative? Didn't help it against the Game Boy). From ex-Atari Tramiel-era employees like BJ West, the main issue the Tramiels had was that they didn't know what made games fun. Still, the Tramiels did throw a ton of money at game development both outside and inside the company.

 

Currently Atari has no clue what made their games great and doesn't employ any game designers/coders/artists. At the very least Tramiel Atari had some development staff, who did attempt to make some original IP with the likes of Ninja Golf, Jinks, BasketBrawl, Scrapyard Dog, Black Ice/White Noise, Trevor McFur, etc. Atari SA did give that a go some years ago, but they seem to have mainly given up on that since it wasn't a Get-Rich-Quick scheme.

 

I suppose one could call the VCS a "desparate attempt" to salvage what's left of the Atari name, but I think the brand has come out worse for the wear on this. 

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22 minutes ago, AlecRob said:

At least then if someone were to buy the company, they would get EVERYTHING.

It would be great, but prohibitively expensive. If Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos were big Atari fans then they could do it without blinking an eye, but I'm sure that they'd have bought the company already if they had the interest. Warner Bros/AT&T owns all of the Atari Games stuff; then many other IPs have been sold here and there over the years (BattleZone to Rebellion as one example).  It also wouldn't mean much if the IP just sat around or was released once every 10 years on a Steam compilation.

 

Now if you did have some of the original creators come along and reinvent the games or something along those lines, it'd be interesting - but IMHO, for Atari to maintain relevancy over the years, they also need fresh ideas that are fun to play. Milking the past won't pay the bills forever.

 

Quote

besides, i would love to see a new battlezone on VCS.  Perhaps with psychedelic tempest 4000 visuals.

Just buy BattleZone Gold Edition on Steam. Been out for a few years and was a fantastic remake.

Edited by Shaggy the Atarian
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1 minute ago, Shaggy the Atarian said:

you honestly think that the Lynx wasn't innovative? Didn't help it against the Game Boy)

The Lynx fell into their lap.  The Tramiel Atari would never have designed such a thing.   They didn't market it sufficiently, and part of it was due to the fact that they spent the previous four years pushing retro consoles/retro games while Nintendo was giving the world Mario and Zelda.   They lost so much mindshare in games because they were more focused on the computer line at the time.  I get it, that's where everyone thought the future was at the time,  but in retrospect proprietary computing systems were a dead end, but proprietary gaming systems had a long future.   They bet on the wrong horse and the brand still has to sleep in that bed.

 

10 minutes ago, Shaggy the Atarian said:

I suppose one could call the VCS a "desparate attempt" to salvage what's left of the Atari name, but I think the brand has come out worse for the wear on this. 

Well everyone insisted it was a scam that would never see the light of day.   And it's now shipping, so there's that.   It's a retro-play designed for the growing retro market.   Here's what people don't understand.   Atari is now the equivalent of an "oldies act" in music.   Nobody really goes see a band on the oldies circuit perform new material,  they want the old stuff.

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Most of the comments that it was a scam seemed to be directed towards the misleading marketing, overselling of progress. missed deadlines, lawsuits from former employees, etc. rather than a flat out insistence that nothing would ever come out, and I don't think that recent events have done much to prove them wrong.

 

Personally, I've always shied away from calling it that though. When there's been so much rank incompetence on show from Atari, Hanlon's razor was always cutting against them being downright malicious.

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22 minutes ago, zzip said:

The Lynx fell into their lap.  The Tramiel Atari would never have designed such a thing.   They didn't market it sufficiently, and part of it was due to the fact that they spent the previous four years pushing retro consoles/retro games while Nintendo was giving the world Mario and Zelda.   They lost so much mindshare in games because they were more focused on the computer line at the time.  I get it, that's where everyone thought the future was at the time,  but in retrospect proprietary computing systems were a dead end, but proprietary gaming systems had a long future.   They bet on the wrong horse and the brand still has to sleep in that bed.

 

Well everyone insisted it was a scam that would never see the light of day.   And it's now shipping, so there's that.   It's a retro-play designed for the growing retro market.   Here's what people don't understand.   Atari is now the equivalent of an "oldies act" in music.   Nobody really goes see a band on the oldies circuit perform new material,  they want the old stuff.

Again, oversimplifying it...Nintendo had aggressively locked developers and even hardware (MCs and the like) through licensing deals, but they were also the ones you wanted to go to for everything since they owned the market with the NES. Even Sega faltered until the Genesis was out long enough to make an impact. The Lynx just didn't fall into their lap just because Epyx had developed it - it wasn't 100% ready to go when Atari bought it, and they changed some things from the original Epyx design. Marketing also only went so far - price point and battery drain were seen as negatives (personal anecdote - I wanted a Lynx quite badly back in 1990, but couldn't afford the $200 price tag. When my dad went to Saudi Arabia for Desert Storm, what did he get? The affordable hand-held, the Game Boy). But it got a lot of great games, arguably the Lynx has the best game library for an Atari system outside of the 2600. 

 

For any gaming product to be really successful, it has to have a lot of positives going for it: price, features, & games. Mess up anyone of those and you're screwed.  But you guys are stuck on thinking that brand name is all you need, because it works for you.  

 

As for the VCS, not everyone insisted it was a scam, but they had a great reason for believing such, because up until Rob Wyatt finally got something together mid-last year, it really was nothing more than a concept on paper that Atari had made $3m off of. Fergal Mac had nothing, just like the Atari Gameband that never materialized, nor all of the Atari branded tablets/phones/phablets that no one remembers. 

 

Funny you call Atari the oldies act, since the Tramiels called the company the equivalent of an old rock band from the 70s when they were touting the Jaguar. I guess we can just use that analogy forever, despite the fact that you still have a bunch of other "oldie acts" around who have been around for as long as Atari has or longer, and still have found a way to stay relevant, being much more of a household name now than Atari ever was - Nintendo, Sega, Capcom, Konami come to mind. The difference is that they competent at how they handle their history, they all have developers on-staff (some of which have been around for decades, like Shigeru Miyamoto) and if you really think that the only way for Atari to move forward is by being stuck in the past, then why don't they just re-release the Atari Mega Vault from here on out? Why even bother with a game console or anything else?

Edited by Shaggy the Atarian
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