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June 2017 Retro Gaming Article


June 16, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Atari CEO Fred Chesnais tells VentureBeat, “We're back in the hardware business”

Is Atari back in the hardware business?
Many things hint at some sort of retro gaming device, but those close to it claim no connection to retro.
Last week, just prior to E3, Atari began hinting at some sort of new hardware with the "title", Atari Box. The Internet instantly wanted more info, but their cryptic website offered little satisfaction to the curiosity it stirred. Is this real? What is Atari doing?

A video posted to their ataribox.com website vaguely shows a device with some strong Atari 2600 traits. Atari, as a holding company, has managed the various IPs and licensed the name to a variety of odd projects. Many of these have tried to leverage the retro feel of Atari as a brand. They are perceived as an iconic video game brand from hits like Asteroids, Missile Command and a bevy of early 1980s arcade games. Thus it makes sense that their mysterious new console would be some sort of retro gaming device.

Is GameStop ready to make space for Atari Box titles? Can Atari Compete in Gen 8?
However, this is hard to believe as they already have a deal with AtGames for the popular plug-n-play consoles containing about 80 built in games from Atari's past.

Atari CEO Fred Chesnais told VentureBeat they are indeed creating new hardware and that it is based on PC technology. My belief it Atari is engaging in some misdirection (not out of malice) to draw attention to the brand as they begin to release tidbits of info. Some folks in forums who seem close to this project are saying it has no relation to retro gaming.

Hyperkin announced the Retron 77 - a console that plays Atari 2600 cartridges via HDMI - which brings your old VCS carts to modern TVs. AtGames is also adding HD compatibility to it's Flashback console line. Many are assuming the NES Classic Edition's success has triggered Atari to "go retro". I think they are doing something completely different and it wouldn't surprise me if it wasn't even game-related.

Is Atari Box A Modern Game Console?

If folks doubt Nintendo's ability to compete in Generation 8's modern times (incidentally, they can and they're killing it!), how can Atari possibly compete? I'm guessing they are leveraging their history in gaming by teasing a new product in the midst of E3, but I suspect it's more of an IoT product not a game console in the traditional sense - despite Fred Chesnais saying it's a game console. Might Atari really have found an untouched niche to delve into? Could they truly make a comeback in gaming?

I think gamers are hoping to see Atari return to gaming... and Atari knows it. Thus, they are leveraging this to their benefit. Time will tell, but I get the feeling they are in no rush to give any substantial info. When they say it's a product "years in the making", they'd have to come to market with an amazing and solid product.

Is Atari back in the hardware business?

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