Why it matters: Nintendo's line of classic console remakes - and now, Atari's early pre-order success - has demonstrated that nostalgia is big business. Whether or not the classic gaming company can deliver on its promise of a modern console with true appeal, however, still remains to be seen.
Pre-orders for Atari’s retro-inspired game console, the Atari VCS, went live earlier today on crowdfunding platform Indiegogo. The console, which starts at $199, seemed like a tough sell – especially considering it isn’t scheduled to ship until the summer of 2019 yet surprisingly enough, it’s doing rather well thus far.
As of writing, the Atari VCS campaign has raised more than $1.75 million in funding from nearly 6,700 backers. With a full month remaining and Atari having already smashed its original goal of just $100,000, the future is looking bright in the eyes of retro gaming fans.
Exactly what the Atari VCS is – and isn’t – is still somewhat of a mystery. Atari has said the machine will be able to play classics arcade games through the Atari Vault collection but it’ll offer much more than a simple stroll down memory lane.
Powered by an AMD Bristol Ridge processor and Radeon R7 graphics alongside 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, the machine will be able to push 4K HDR visuals at 60 frames per second and play “the latest modern and indie PC titles” from a variety of developers. With Internet connectivity, it’ll also serve as a streaming set-top box for the living room and a web browser.
Some have considered the Atari VCS to be little more than vaporware and it’s easy to see how they would get that impression. Even today with the launch of pre-orders, we’re still more than a year away from a product launch from a company whose claim to fame came decades ago. Atari announced multiple indie development partners as part of the campaign launch but without some heavy-hitters or tantalizing exclusives, is that really saying a lot?
Hopefully I’m wrong but for now, color me skeptical. Your thoughts?
PS: the base model for $199 doesn't include a gamepad or joystick - what's up with that?