Hardware and Gear

Published on July 4th, 2020 | by gareth


Why The Atari VCS Is Likely Dead On Arrival

Atari recently sent out another round of pre-order information for the Atari VCS system which read as follows.
Pre-order the Atari VCS 800 Black Walnut All-In bundle now from Atari for $389.99 with free shipping and guaranteed delivery before December 24.
The listing also goes on to tout the following.

Every Atari VCS All-In Bundle includes:
Atari VCS 800 Video Computer System
Wireless Classic Joystick
Wireless Modern Controller
Free Atari Vault of 100 classic games
Atari VCS game and app store

This is the last chance to purchase this bundle for $389.99!
Offer valid through July 31, 2020.

This got me thinking that with new systems arriving from Sony and Microsoft is the new Atari system pretty much dead on arrival. The system has not had any signature game announcements and the fact that players can play Missile Command Recharged is not really that appealing as the game has been available for a while now on other platforms.

The appeal of 100 classic games is there but considering that most of them have been readily available for years in various collections to me is not a selling point.

In many ways this is a classic example of how not to launch a new system. There has been a horrible lack of information, numerous delays, and a lack of any news regarding new launch and future titles. This is further compounded by a price point that is not overly competitive as I am sure the vast majority of gamers will see the price and realize that paying an additional $100-$150 estimated for the new systems from Microsoft and Sony will be a much better investment especially since they can be assured of many quality games coming for the systems via third party and studio owned releases. There is also the matter of Cross Play which has been gaining some momentum of late and looks to be something that the new Call of Duty and Star Wars games will feature.

In many ways this takes me back to the Google Stadia which had a much better price point but raised the question of exactly who the target audience was. I said in a radio segment that many gamers either have a console or PC to play their games on so this would appeal to those who could not afford a console or wanted to play their games on the go. However seeing that players would need a Smartphone to play Stadia games on the go; how many of them would have the required phones but not a console?

The rocky launch for the Stadia has largely been seen as proof that gamers are not ready to stream their games and want to have a more traditional ownership and play situation and are willing to stay with digital and disc versions of the games for the now.
As someone who grew up playing the Atari 2600 games I can see that there is a nostalgia factor to the system but I cannot see much beyond this to make the system viable as the price point and dated library of classic games cannot be enough to entice people to spend nearly $400.00 when they will have far better options available to them and very likely sooner.

Time will tell how the gaming public receives the Atari VCS but I would not count on it having much success as there has been absolutely nothing to date to peak people’s interest. The fact that the PS5 reveal event was the most watched gaming content in history shows where consumer interest is and the fact that there are far more questions than answers about the system pretty much indicates that it will struggle to find a market.


About the Author

Syndicated movie & game critic, writer, author and frequent radio guest. His work has appeared in over 60 publications worldwide and he is the creator of the rising entertainment site and publication “Skewed and Reviewed”. He has three books of film, game reviews and interviews published and is a well-received and in demand speaker on the convention circuit. Gareth has appeared in movies and is a regular guest on a top-rated Seattle morning show. He has also appeared briefly in films such as “Prefountaine”, “Postal”. “Far Cry”. and others. Gareth is also an in-demand speaker at several conventions and has conducted popular panels for over two decades.

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