Video game history is a lot longer than many younger people might imagine. Long before there were first-person shooter games, long before advanced graphics and long before “freemium” video games on apps and social media, the world had access to video games on the Atari system even in the late 1970s. We even played those games on television sets that had antennas and curved glass screens, and the graphics were frequently as bad as sci-fi movies from the 1960s and 1970s as well.
Now, it’s back! Atari has made several announcements about the release of an all-new Atari VCS home gaming and entertainment system. There is even the old iconic joystick that many games of the modern era may not have even ever seen before.
The company is holding private meetings with members of the press, and with retail and content partners, at the 2019 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles as its presale has launched with Walmart and GameStop (as well as AtartVCS.com) for U.S. customers.
There are multiple systems and accessories to choose from, including retailer-exclusive editions. While some gamers may be excited about the return of Apple, they are going to have to be very patient. Tuesday’s press release indicated that deliveries in this new round of preorders will not start until March of 2020.
After Indiegogo and Indemand efforts, the original Atari VCS backers from 2018 will start receive their hardware in December 2019. That campaign pledge started back in May of 2018, with $2 million in funding seen in the first week and nearly $3 million over the 30-day span. The press release indicated that total gross sales have been over $4 million since the start from more than 12,000 individual contributors.
There may be some questions about the models being priced for the public since there are so many options to choose from. The base pricing starts at $249.99 for the Atari VCS 400 Onyx with 4GB of RAM. The models top out at $389.99 for one of three Atari VCS 800 models with 8GB of RAM.
There are also what are called the all-in system bundles that include an Atari VCS Classic Joystick and the Atari VCS modern controller. The classic Joysticks are set to be priced at $49.99, and the modern game controllers, which look quite familiar for Xbox or PS players, are being priced at $59.99 for retail pre-orders.
The Atari statement said:
The all-new Atari VCS home gaming and video computer system is aimed at transforming the TV-centric home entertainment experience. At E3 this week, Atari plans to share demos of the Atari VCS dashboard and Sandbox Mode to showcase the power of the AMD tech that powers the VCS. Users will be introduced to an ever-expanding Atari world of all-new games, classic and remastered favorites, streaming multimedia and personal apps; or can easily make their own. The powerful AMD Ryzen processor featuring Radeon Graphics Technology can handle it all, including 4K HDR streaming, while the all-new Atari Classic Joystick and Atari Modern Controller make everything easy and fun. Switching to the unique Atari Sandbox Mode unlocks an open and expandable multimedia PC for freedom and versatility you can’t get with any other home game system. The Atari VCS blends the best of consoles and PCs to delight a whole new generation of gamers, fans, and creators who will “Discover What You and Atari Can Do.”
Atari plans to make several more product development updates and announcements this year that will include expanded details about games and entertainment content, software development protocols, expanded distribution and more.
Atari CEO Frédéric Chesnais said in the announcement:
Atari made a commitment to its fans to make the new VCS the best and most versatile game and home entertainment platform it can be, with a wide array of options. After so many months of work defining and refining the products, and after the strong initial support of thousands of Indiegogo backers, we are excited to finally and officially announce our product launch configurations, first key retail partnerships, and the kickoff of the Atari VCS Official Online Presale that will put the products into the hands of gamers.
To think of the return of Defender, Frogger, Pong, Pitfall, Space Invaders, Missile Command — and even the awful E.T. game. Many of those games are easily available today already on modern video game formats.
What will they think of next? Perhaps the return of Intellivision?
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