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January 2020 Retro Gaming Article


January 7, 2020 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Atari touts invite-only VCS software demos in a hotel suite near the buzz of the CES trade show

Non-functioning Atari VCS at the Kingston booth - E3
Like last year, Atari is not on the E3 exhibitor list, but are nearby demonstrating the Atari VCS dashboard GUI and software.
Skirting the fact that they are not attending CES as vendors, Atari is "in Las Vegas" probably in a hotel suite across from the convention. This year it sounds as though they have slightly better demos than last years non-working examples of what could be. Their press release, on Medium today, is so vague, it sounds as though the dashboard GUI demos will not be presented on an actual VCS unit. They say they are showing the dashboard, Atari Vault, Antstream Arcade, and Sandbox PC Mode.

It sounds like this is a computer-based demo. You'd think they'd want to showcase it running on their new VCS, but that's not the vibe I get from the press release. They separately discus the software demos and the VCS units. As usual, they show no proof-of-concept. No mention of release dates either.

Non-functioning Atari VCS - E3 With the working functionality of the Atari VCS up in the air, they go on to say they have consoles located at the booths of strategic partners and invite attendees to search for them, Easter Egg style. Great idea. Make them hard to find! How excited is anyone to go hunt for an over-priced Linux box bundled with Atari Vault games from 2016... that isn't yet functional?

No mention of playing a game or getting a hands-on session with a VCS console. If these things were working, I imagine Atari would want folks to know about it. It's this kind of veiled truth that has plagued this project from the beginning.

"Atari VCS appearance models will be on hand to show everyone how the finished Atari VCS hardware will look."

We know what it will look like. Atari has been showing pictures for two years. I'm thinking it's about time to show the working prototype. If they start showing their software offerings on a random laptop at CES, we can pretty much assume this project is another six months to a year behind schedule. At which point it will likely become another "Gameband" and vanish without any acknowledgement.

From everything I've read, Atari has no working consoles at or near CES.
They seem to have all the bits and pieces on-hand to view at CES, but no mention of "Stop by and play some Asteroids or Missile Command." If I were at CES and saw Sony's electric car and folding phone screens, it would be fun to relive some nostalgic memories with a round of Breakout. And wouldn't it be fun to do so with a modern controller attached to a re-envisioned Atari VCS console/computer? Yes, it would, but Atari won't have any of that.

They want us all to marvel at their semi-functional mess of a project. It's akin to cutting out paper dolls at an origami festival. Or bringing your soapbox racer to Le Mans. Atari loves to build hype around possibilities, thinking they will never have to deliver actual results.

After years of work, they can't even show basic proof-of-concept at a trade show. Kids at school Science Fairs show more promise and results. People have compared it to another recent disaster/scam, but lets not liken the Atari VCS to the Coleco Chameleon which devolved into criminal deceit. Atari is simply inept. Although they did take $3 million from backers... maybe there is a crime or two lurking around Atari's HQ.

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