Last week, Atari shook up the gaming console landscape by giving its AtariBox console an official name – the Atari VCS. And though the company didn’t have a working prototype at the Game Developers Conference last week, it certainly drummed up a great deal of attention for the forthcoming hardware.
Today, the company revealed a new Q & A that talked about the technical aspects of the system, as well as what fans can expect from it when pre-orders go live starting next month. And, wow, these details indicate that the Atari VCS could be a lot more powerful than originally let on. We're talking PC level performance.
Check out the details over the next few pages!
First off, the company revealed the main talking points, which you can see below:
- Atari VCS (Video Computer System) is the official name of Atari’s new modern hardware platform
- Atari VCS is a completely new connected device designed for modern audiences, that will also please long-standing fans
- The Atari VCS name and hardware design is inspired by the original Atari 2600 VCS that was first released in 1977
- The new Atari VCS logo is inspired by the legendary graphic designs from Atari’s in-house Industrial Design and Graphics department in the 1970’s and 80’s
- Development of the Atari VCS hardware, software and peripherals is ongoing
- Atari is working with game developers and other partners to finalize initial Atari VCS content offerings
- Atari expects to announce an exclusive public pre-order date for the Atari VCS before the end of April 2018
- Additional details about the new Atari VCS will be released in the coming months, including content partnerships, hardware specifications, accessories and release dates
So, in short, the system will have a retro-based design (think Atari 2600 style), but with a modern touch, capable of playing newer games, along with Atari classics.
With that, Michael Arzt, who serves as COO of Atari Connected Devices, delved a little bit into what the Atari VCS actually is. “The new Atari VCS is a video computer system and platform that lets users enjoy games and the best PC experience on their TV with more exciting online entertainment-driven features/benefits to be announced at a later date.” So it’s going for a more mainstream PC-style of performance, while keeping a hand in the past.
As far as what will be included with the system, that’s still being finalized, but Arzt did note, “Bundle configurations are still being finalized, but the base Atari VCS will include one Classic Joystick/Remote. Enhanced bundles are likely to also include our Modern Controller and possibly other items still in development.”
He was then asked about what makes the Atari VCS stand out from other retro-based consoles, like the SNES Classic and the NES Classic Edition. “The Atari VCS is a completely new Atari device designed for today’s living room that will include PC and online entertainment-driven features that distinguish it from these other products,” he explained. “Atari VCS will of course serve up lots of classic content. But it will do and play much more, and can complement other ‘retro-boxes’ or ‘microconsoles’ that consumers may already have in their homes.”
As for why Atari is coming back into the console market now, in the face of dominant companies like Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, Arzt simply noted, “The original Atari 2600 Video Computer System reinvented the home entertainment experience more than 40 years ago by transforming our relationship with our TVs. We saw an opportunity to do that again with a new Atari VCS that brings PC versatility to the living room.”
Some specs for the system were also shared, which you can see below:
- Performance will be comparable to a higher-end PC laptop
- 4K, HDR, 60fps AMD x86 processor
- Onboard and expandable storage
- 4/5.0 WiFi/Bluetooth 5.0
- USB 3.0
Arzt also mentioned its operating system, noting, “The Atari VCS is literally a PC for your TV where the screen is your main interface. Atari VCS has x86 PC architecture with a proprietary Linux OS that will allow for a flexible content mix and give customers access to interact with the whole Internet. This means more games, media and streaming content, as well as communication with other PCs and the ability to fully customize the experience.”
Then Arzt dug into the games. “Atari VCS is expected to ship with a variety of game and entertainment content available. Classic IP from Atari’s portfolio of more than 200 games and franchises, and others, will be accessible, plus modern games (including reimagined classics), as well as streaming video, audio and other entertainment apps. Atari is working with numerous game developers, content creators and partners and looks forward to sharing more details soon.” There wasn’t a specific number of games mentioned with the briefing, but more details will be coming shortly.
Arzt also mentioned the possibility of the Atari VCS working with other storefronts, like Steam. “Atari VCS will allow users to engage with a wide assortment of applications and content available to Linux users. Atari anticipates Steam and other Linux storefronts will work on VCS, but obviously cannot guarantee universal compatibility with all third party applications. Atari VCS will have a proprietary UI to browse, buy, stream, download, play and save content, including games, video, music, social and communication apps.”
There’s no word when we’ll be able to see a playable version of the Atari VCS, as it’s still very heavily in development – which might explain why a non-working model was featured at GDC last week. But it’s likely to ship sometime later this year, for a price range of around $250-$300.3comments
And regarding pricing, Arzt said, “Final Atari VCS pricing is not determined and any numbers that may be out there are speculative. Atari and its manufacturing partners are attuned to the market and working diligently to deliver a premium product at a fair cost.”
We’ll keep you informed when more details about the Atari VCS become available.