Atari has revealed some new details regarding its brand new console: Atari VCS (formerly called Ataribox). Aside from the sleek, vintage design and throwback joystick, there are some interesting bells and whistles integrated into the gaming company's first official console since the failed Atari Jaguar in 1993.
Capitalizing on 1980s-era nostalgia a la Stranger Things and Ready Player One, Atari is re-embarking into console territory with the Atari VCS: a retro-style gaming console that takes direct inspiration from the generation it originated from, while also offering plenty of modern utilities to warrant a purchase. While the original Atari console was a staple in '80s gaming with two-dimensional games like Pong and Space Invaders, the VCS will double as home assistant, home speaker, and computer all in one single device.
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Eurogamer spoke with Atari Connected Devices COO Michael Arzt during the 2018 Game Developer Conference and managed to get a clearer picture of how the Atari VCS might attract a new generation of gamers. Unlike the NES Mini, which was literally just a miniature version of the original Nintendo console, the VCS is essentially a computer with TV screen compatibility. The VCS utilizes streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, music streaming services like Spotify and Pandora, social networking, and, of course, it allows users to play classic Atari games. It will also function like a computer (and is "less expensive than a PC," ranging around an unspecified cost between $249 and $299), so users will "be able to hook a wireless or USB mouse and keyboard to it" if they so choose.
As far as the physical features go, the console's design takes inspiration from the original Atari - all the way down to the faux-wood finish and retro matte black joystick - while running on an AMD x86 processor. And since Artz is aware that most people aren't too keen on shelling out money for new accessories when they already own other competing consoles, like the Xbox One X or the Playstation 4, the company is allowing Atari VCS owners to seamlessly use any other Bluetooth or USB controller with the console. They also expect to reveal more details about the console, as well as information regarding preorders, by the end of April (including the potential of third-party publishers). That said, while Artz is well aware that people "people want a lot of answers," he explained that there are some VCS elements that he's "not in a position to talk about yet that this [console] will do."
With the VCS, Atari has a solid shot at entering the modern console wars, but critics will no doubt be unforgiving. The company acknowledges that it has a few more hurdles in its way before launching the VCS (for example, Artz admits to abandoning some earlier designs and creative partnerships because they didn't believe they were doing justice to Atari's long-awaited return), but is confident that their aim for perfection will pay off. Also, given how prominent a role the original Atari plays in Steven Spielberg's adaptation of Ready Player One, this may well be the perfect time to release a new Atari console into the world - assuming the company can meet high demands and expectations.