The Atari VCS went up for pre-order on Indigogo today. The console has gone through a name change after 1 false start but now we finally have a chance to own one. In 2019. Maybe.
Atari isn’t relevant in the gaming scene anymore. The Atari Jaguar was the last console and since then you’ve been able to play countless Atari 2600 compilations and flashback consoles. They're not even the same company that made the Atari 2600: they exist in name only.
When the Atari Box renders were first unveiled, it was met with cautious optimism. A sexy console design with real wood and not much else was known about it. How much would it cost? What would it play? Is it just a flashback console in a fancy case or is it something more?
We now know that it will have an AMD processor with Radeon graphics powerful enough to run Minecraft and some indie titles and of course traditional Atari 2600 games. All starting at $200 and not including a controller. The full specs are way at the bottom of the campaign. 2 year old components in a neat package doesn't sound too bad but it's still not going to run the most modern titles.
Naturally this raised some eyebrows. Does the gaming community need another gaming console that will most likely not have any exclusives to it? The short answer is no. There really isn’t any room for a 4th gaming console in the market and that’s been proven time and time again.
Atari proved that themselves when they entered the scene with the Jaguar. It was crushed by the Nintendo 64, PlayStation and Sega Saturn. Eventually Sega would be pushed out after the arrival of the Xbox. You can debate this was mainly due to poor business decisions.
And there already has been a company that’s soured gamers by attempting to release a console on a nostalgic name. The Coleco Chameleon came about as an attempt to enter the console market and be a dedicated indie console and was eventually discovered to be a fraud.
There was a successful campaign for the Ouya and that ended up a bust at launch when it was discovered to be nothing more than a 100 dollar Android box.
So with all the history of failure known, why the hell would I want it? Well in addition to collecting video games to play, I also consider collecting things that are historically significant and would look good on my shelf.
Take the NES Top Loader for example. It came out towards the end of the console’s life cycle and looks significantly better than the original toaster design. However it is inferior to the original because in order to save money, Nintendo ditched the RCA ports and only included the RF which means that the picture quality will forever be garbage unless I modify it.
The SNES mini is the same issue but there’s not a significant difference in picture quality. However the SNES 1 chip is still the best Super Nintendo that you could buy.
I have a Panasonic Q which is a Japanese only Gamecube that can play DVDs. The shiny metallic cube is significantly more expensive and prone to breakdowns but I have it nonetheless because it looks sexy as hell.
I also have R.O.B., the Power glove, Virtual Boy, a pair of Nintendo 3D glasses and a Famicom light gun in my collection. I didn't buy these because they were the best on the market. I bought them because they are functional pieces of art.
And I can’t wait to add the Atari VCS to my collection. Assuming that it comes out. The Indigogo rules are different than Kickstarter. You need a working prototype on Kickstarter and you need to meet your initial goal to get all the money. Indigogo is way more lenient and open to a lot more abuse. It looks like I'm not alone. Almost 5000 backers have committed 1.19 million dollars to the project at the time of this article. 2 hours after the campaign launched.
I’m hoping that my $329 leads to something tangible. I understand the risks of this endeavor and even the biggest Atari fan, John Hancock isn’t excited about it. But it just looks so damn cool. So please Atari – at least make one for me. God Speed.
For those interested you can pre-order the VCS here