Sometimes the best things in life come unexpectedly. Not only that, but they come just when the opposition set out to unveil a new strategy, and thus throw a wrench in the works. Such is the case with the Atari VCS, an upcoming video game console that releases in November. That timing is no coincidence either. The gaming industry braces itself in anticipation of the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5, that very same month.
If the name Atari seems like a distant memory, you might be of one of the older generations. That means, that prior to Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft’s takeover of the video game sector, you recall the original Atari. That console, replete with classic, genre-defining games like Combat and Pac-Man, went by the name of the Atari 2600. It was a cultural icon and an immediate hit. Decades after the company’s magnum opus, a sudden new entry emerges.
Prior to the announcement, the Xbox Series X and PS5 seemed the only clear options
Given the dominance of Sony and Microsoft hold over the video game industry, neck-at-neck rivalry only seems natural. Every few years, both companies compete with similar performing consoles and similar price points. Meanwhile, another video gaming titan, Nintendo, enjoys massive success with its unorthodox console solutions (looking at you, Switch). However, Nintendo purposely focuses on its own exclusives mostly, and releases on years between the Microsoft/Sony console wars. That means that the gaming industry, not counting the PC gaming side, comprises of just three major brands.
This year marks the first major, mainline console releases from Microsoft and Sony since 2013. Considering how outdated the Xbox One and PS4 became, the hype surrounding the next generation grew. Despite several setbacks and diminished interest due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, both seem all set to profit. Meanwhile, Nintendo is, as usual, focusing on its own Switch line of games, but otherwise silent. This is why Atari’s abrupt announcement proved a huge, shocking surprise.
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The new Atari VCS does not compete directly with Microsoft and Sony, but aims to appeal to different audiences
The Atari VCS (short for Video Computer System) did not just appear from a vacuum. Following the rumblings of a new Atari iteration as far back as 2016, the console received a formal announcement at E3 2017. However, due to scheduling delays and internal management issues at Atari SA, it took another 3 years to materialize. This month, after a careful rechecking of assets due to the pandemic, Atari SA gave the all-clear and announced the console.
However, with initial confusion as to the long-dormant company’s intentions, clarification came from several sources. Newer generations showed promising interest in a name they had never even heard of. Meanwhile, older generation gamers responded positively to the inevitable waves of nostalgia. The focus of the new console is older games across generations of games. So while Cyberpunk 2077 may not appear, you can still enjoy a refreshed suite of older titles.
The exact specifics of the console remain unclear, but we do know the basics
The Atari VCS will come with over 100 titles to play at launch. This is brought by the Atari Vault, a collection of playable games akin to Xbox’s Game Pass. In addition, more titles will arrive over the next year, according to sources. A Linux-based OS is confirmed, in a “PC Mode”, and the console will stream and download games instead of the previous ROM requirements. The Atari VCS pre-orders for $389.99, and comes with an AMD Ryzen CPU, AMD Radeon GPU, and 8GB of expandable RAM. This allows for 4k HDR support.
For more updates on the console’s availability, reviews and hardware stay tuned!