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March 2019 Retro Gaming Article


March 18, 2019 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Atari delays their upcoming Atari VCS game console launch, citing faster chipset upgrade

Atari delays their new VCS game console launch
Perhaps Atari should explain why they've been developing for years for an existing (old) chipset.
When Atari laid out a July 2019 delivery date for the new Atari VCS game console, I was certain that date would come and go - no console. The "Fred C era" of Atari has a poor track record for customer service and hardware production. Did any of you get a refund on the Atari Band smartwatch?

Last June (2018) when they wrapped up their $3 million indiegogo campaign, eleven months seemed like a ridiculously aggressive delivery timeline.

Today, Atari released a press release delaying delivery until the "end of 2019." I'm not surprised for a number of reasons, but I'm more concerned about the stated reason for the delay. They want to use a better, cooler, faster chip. Sounds good - I'm all for it! But anyone familiar with hardware development (or project management) knows you don't develop with a 2-year window on a standard that exists at the time dev began!

You don't save up to buy an old game console. You're saving for the latest greatest one.
Alleging development from 2017, having chosen AMD as a partner, one expects that partnership involves steering them toward the end-goal and being able to take advantage of the best hardware available. Time changes everything - EVERYTHING!

Thus Atari wouldn't be developing for an existing chip and then cite delays because they are switching chips only four months before their promised delivery. That's not how it works, if your goal is to deliver the best cutting edge solution. Guess what? With this logic, there will probably be a etter chip available at the end of 2019. Will they delay again?

Atari seems to be ignoring the entire premise behind the partnership with your component manufacturers. They know what will be possible down the road and will help guide your project towards that goal. This way your product launches with the best possible hardware and the manufacturer has you onboard to tout the advantages of their latest efforts. It's symbiotic... unless you're Atari and have an aversion to doing things correctly.

Don't Get Your Hopes Up

From the outset, I've said this game console will never come to market. Even if it did.... would you want it? Let me explain. Keep in mind I backed this project for $30 to get one of those modernized CX style joysticks. I'm in it with you!

For retro gamers there is a selection of built-in Atari games on the VCS. This is nothing more than the existing game compilation, Atari Vault, which has been available to play across multiple computers/devices since March 2016. Keep in mind we've been playing most of these games for nearly forty years when they were first released!

So, in addition to these treasured classics, what else will the new Atari VCS play? Has anyone seen any game demos? Third-party software developer lists? Dev kits? Is ANYONE working on games for this box? I doubt Railroad Tycoon will satisfy the 11,000+ backers from the crowd funding phase.

The Atari VCS has no disc or cartridge slot, so it must connect to some sort of online store. What is the status of the store? Is Atari even developing a store to rollout when they deliver their hardware? Even the Ouya had competent online store from which their backers could buy games. Good luck, Atari.

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