The Atari VCS, the crowd-funded, retro-styled-but-modern-console/gaming PC, is delayed for those who donated to the venture on IndieGogo. The VCS’ makers still expect to hit the general ship date of March 2020, but backers will beg getting their units after December, when it was last promised.
Michael Arzt, the Atari chief operating officer, attributed the delay to a hardware upgrade, the same reason for the VCS’ first delay, from a launch originally set for the late spring or early summer of this year. “We were offered the opportunity to incorporate an all-new microprocessor built on a more powerful and more efficient architecture,” Arzt wrote on Medium. “The team is well aware that the delay impacted our backers, but feels strongly that we made the right decision to improve the product’s performance.
“Atari will always prioritize delivering a high-quality product over a self-imposed deadline,” Arzt added. “Our Indiegogo backers are extremely important to us, and the entire team and I would like to thank our backers once again for their loyalty and continued support. I am sure they will understand our prioritization of delivering a quality product above all else.”
The Atari VCS, though it does have a bunch of Atari 2600 ROMs pre-loaded on it, is not a throwback mini-console; it’s effectively a Linux gaming PC, with a state-of-the-art AMD processor. The console is modeled on the design of the original Atari VCS (later known as the 2600), with a ridged case and a wood-panel applique that evoke the front deck of the 1970s-fabulous original.
It also isn’t cheap: $249.99, but that gets the buyer 4 GB of RAM, 4K and HDR support, well more than is necessary to run Maze Craze or Warlords. There’s a more expensive 8 GB RAM model, too, but neither come with an input device. The VCS’ gamepad and throwback joystick cost $49.99 and $59.99 respectively, with pricier bundle options offering one or both.
Arzt didn’t share any revised delivery date for Indiegogo backers, but said “we are talking weeks here, not months, and the Indiegogo backers remain our top priority.” He guaranteed that backers would get their consoles before the general public. “We will also try to come up with some kind of bonus to reward our backers for their patience.”
For those who didn’t donate to the VCS’ manufacture, the unit will be sold by GameStop, Walmart, and Atari itself, with each storefront selling a different console design. Walmart’s is “Carbon Gold,” GameStop’s is “onyx” (the base design) and Atari has the “black walnut” look. Pre-orders are being taken now.