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March 2018 Retro Gaming Article

March 22, 2018 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

In a suite across the street from GDC, Atari attempted to showcase a non-functional Atari VCS game console

Atari showcased their Atari VCS
With little knowledge of marketing or product development, Atari stumbles along for anyone who's still interested.
While ground breaking innovations in gaming technology were showcased at this year's Game Developer's Conference, Atari was in a suite across the street with an Atari VCS reveal. Those venturing over to see Atari's offering,. came face-to-face with mock-ups of the game console (non functional), a modern controller, and a modern take on the 2600 controller from the 70s.

Atari showcased their Atari VCS Clearly, the current brand-owners of the Atari name have no clue about video game promotion. They cancelled a crowd funding campaign last December on the day it was to go live. The claim was "one small thing wasn't ready". Four months of silence ensued until they announced they would be showing the Ataribox (now called the Atari VCS) at GDC... neglecting to mention they were showing it in a suite at the Marriott across the street. This is why they didn't appear on the GDC exhibitor list.

Reports of the mock designs ripped across social media for those who still had any interest in Atari's alleged game console. The on-site rep apparently didn't know which AMD chipset would be used. They might swap to a faster one. Oh... OK. Obviously, this device will not be released any time soon. The modern controller was nothing more than a solid lump of plastic - total mock-up - with no moving buttons or sticks.

Even more unforgivable was the retro controller. Visually, I love it and would gladly buy one if it were to function with a Mac or PC. But there's the issue. One journalist who examined Atari's goods at the Marriott was told the stick was functional. The Atari VCS was a hollow prototype, but he was told the retro stick was functional - it's various indicator lights illuminated. So, he plugged the USB connector into his laptop. Many 3rd party USB controllers for retro consoles also work on PCs with emulators software. Of course, upon being plugged into a laptop... and, nothing. Proprietary? Broken? Who knows.

Atari VCS prototype controllers I was initially excited at Atari's announcement during last year's E3 (They didn't attend that conference either), but they have too many vapor-ware products to account for. What ever happened with their crowd funded GameBand smartwatch? Is anyone still playing Asteroids Outpost?

I see no evidence they know how to bring a product to market - even in small quantities via Indiegogo. The idea they can compete with Nintendo, Sony, or Microsoft is laughable. They brought a lump of plastic to GDC while minds were being blown at the actual conference. Delivering disappointment seems to be the commonality to most of Atari's recent endeavors.

Atari is not taking this product seriously and they look foolish for the poor job they've done from day one. If nothing else, they're consistent. There's no excuse for showing up at a professional game dev conference with a hollow prototype. If the device isn't ready to show from boot-up to game-play, it has no business being at such a conference. GDC isn't a comic con run amok with wide-eyed kids. Professionals are staking their careers on their latest creations. Showing a rigid solid controller mock-up is a joke. Wake up Atari. There is no "A" for effort - you failed!

Rear ports on the Atari VCS The fact that fans will still drool over the possibility of this new Atari VCS console reinforces something I've said all along. Give up the tech. Turn Atari into a lifestyle brand. Do what Gene Simmons did for Kiss - put that name and logo on EVERYTHING! Atari could make a killing off a few t-shirt and hat designs and it expands exponentially from there. I'd gladly buy some slick Atari swag.

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