Here’s Everything Atari Revealed About the Atari VCS During GDC 2018

Last week Atari unveiled a prototype of its upcoming Atari VCS, the iconic brand’s first new major entertainment platform in decades. Today, I am sharing with you the FAQ that was provided to all editors visiting with us in San Francisco during Atari’s press meetings at GDC 2018.

GDC 2018 – Main Talking Points
● 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

GDC 2018 – FAQ’s
What exactly is the Atari VCS?

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.

Why is Atari rebranding Atari box as Atari VCS?

Ataribox was an internal project codename that was never really intended to stick. After
interviewing countless Atari fans and testing new ideas, we decided to pay homage to our
history by naming it the VCS because it’s also the best description of what it is.

What components are included when I buy an Atari VCS?

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.

What makes the Atari VCS different from Nintendo’s NES or SNES Classic retro consoles? Or
even the Ouya? Also, why do we need another micro console?

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.
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.

Why release a new console after a twenty year pause in a market now dominated by Sony,
Nintendo and Microsoft?

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.

Can you share the system specs with us? Will it support 4k? What is the Atari VCS comparable
to in terms of performance?

Final hardware specs for the Atari VCS are still being finalized and will be announced at a later
date. Everything is always subject to change, but we can confirm some things now:
● The performance will be comparable to a
higher-end PC laptop
● 4K, HDR, 60fps AMD x86 processor

● Onboard and expandable storage
● 2.4/5.0 WiFi/Bluetooth 5.0
● USB 3.0

What does it mean exactly that the Atari VCS is based on ‘PC Technology’? What is the
operating system?

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..

Where should I anticipate buying an Atari VCS and when will we see initial units shipped?

Atari is working with content creators and other partners to finalize details and expects to
announce an exclusive public pre-order date for the Atari VCS before the end of April 2018.
Product shipping dates are TBD and Atari VCS will not start shipping until the product is ready.
Is the Atari VCS currently playable? If not, when will we see its first playable debut?
Atari is showing the first Atari VCS prototypes at GDC. These are non-playable models. There
are playable working boards undergoing testing and development in our engineers’ labs.
More information about the new Atari VCS, including playable content demonstrations, will be
released in the coming months.

What games can we anticipate shipping with the Atari VCS? Will it be mostly retro Atari IP,
reimagined Atari IP or something different?

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.

Is development for the console open source, or will Atari personally be involved with all titles
arriving to the platform?

Atari will publish, verify and deliver first and third party game IP and other software through
the proprietary Atari VCS UI. Users will also have a “sandbox” with the ability to bring a wide
variety of outside and “homebrew” content to the platform.

How many games will the Atari VCS ship with and how does one purchase/load new games
onto the Atari VCS?

Atari VCS will have a proprietary UI to browse, buy, stream, download, play and save content,
including games, video, music, social and communication apps.
Atari is working with content creators and partners to finalize launch details and will announce
more specifics in the coming months.

Will the Atari VCS support any current storefronts such as Steam? Will Atari announce its own
proprietary storefront?

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.

Why did Atari pull pre-orders for the VCS in December?

Atari knows how important it is to get everything completely right with this product and that’s
why we briefly paused an imminent launch late last year. It was a hard decision with the
countdown underway, but we weren’t willing to go forward with even one iota of uncertainty.

Since December, Atari has enhanced almost every aspect of the Atari VCS by refining the
hardware and features, expanding partnership talks, adding more talent to the team and
sharpening our branding and message.
We have addressed our internal concerns as well and hope that, despite the delay, fans can
appreciate our extreme attention to detail and remain excited about the Atari VCS.
There’s been a mix of both optimism and pessimism in the press about the potential success
of the Atari VCS? Why do you believe the project will be successful? What does it offer that’s
not currently found in the marketplace?
Atari welcomes all discussions about this product and is flattered and happy that people care as
much as they do. That is part of the reason why we think Atari VCS can succeed… there is
powerful affection for the Atari brand, fueled by a heritage of innovation and fun that will draw
attention to the product. From there, we believe we have a product plan that combines
hardware and software in unique ways that will appeal to our classic fans, while also being
relevant for consumers new to the Atari brand. Atari will share more product specifics in the
coming months.

Why crowdfund the Atari VCS?

Atari’s plans in this area are directly related to fan-service and having a dialog with our
community. Atari’s is one of the biggest, most passionate and outspoken followings on the
planet and we want to deliver something very special to our biggest fans, while also giving them
a direct conduit for feedback about the product before it is finalized.

Some have complained about the announced pricing of the Atari VCS. Why is its pricing closer
to current gaming consoles with full gaming ecosystems from Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo,
rather than other microconsoles?

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.

Does Atari have plans for any other future consoles if the Atari VCS shows success?

Atari anticipates a long life for the Atari VCS with ongoing refinements and will not comment on
future hardware projects.

What truly sets the Atari VCS aside from other retro gaming consoles?

It’s new and it’s from Atari.

 

Jim Smale

Gaming since the Atari 2600, I enjoy the weirdness in games counting Densha De Go and RC De Go as my favourite titles of all time. I prefer gaming of old where buying games from a shop was a thing, Being social in person was a thing. Join me as I attempt to adapt to this new digital age!

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