Rumors of the demise of the Atari VCS (codename Ataribox), released in 2021 by Atari, Inc, have apparently been greatly exaggerated.
The design of the Atari VCS pays homage to the Atari 2600, the 70s home console that popularized home gaming systems (30 million units sold). Earlier last week there were reports that the new console was in trouble, that Atari had low revenue and was reorganizing. This “includes the suspension of direct hardware manufacturing relationships” relating to the VCS, according to an earnings report on 12/16/22.
This was interpreted as the end of the VCS hardware by some, including tomshardware.com, who published an article on the report. Atari replied to the article with a statement:
“As we noted in our Half-Year 2022/2023 Results, we have reorganized our hardware business and laid the groundwork for a new commercial strategy. As part of this reorganization we suspended our relationship with the original manufacturing partner of the Atari VCS, but we continue to maintain inventory and fulfill new orders. Atari remains committed to the VCS platform….We have several hardware and software projects in development, under licensed contracts, that will expand the VCS ecosystem and create additional utility for users.”
One of the new projects is a new game from Jeff Minter, a remarkable British designer who has maintained a career making games since the 1970s! His next project is: a “hypnotic new wave shooter” called Akka Arrh, coming in early 2023 for the Atari VCS and other systems.
The new Atari console plays modern games and provides a streaming entertainment via a custom operating system called AtariOS. It was intended as a next step in microconsoles like the OUYA or the Nintendo’s Classic Edition consoles. Unfortunately, sales did not go well, and the VCS is now available at a discount from Atari.
It’s noteworthy to mention that the company called Atari today isn’t the one that produced the original groundbreaking classic console. That Atari was founded in 1984, and went out of business in 1996, its assets purchased by Hasbro, the toymaker giant, . The current Atari is owned by French publisher Atari SA after decades of changing hands. Today’s Atari is pursuing several lines of business outside of video gaming, including cryptocurrency and video-game themed hotels.
They also have a commitment to emulating the look and feel of vintage games, something other publishers have shied away from. This may help them stand out if they can deliver a well made system with retro games in 2023.
Hasbro released all rights to the Atari Jaguar system in 1999, allowing the passionate audience of diehard Jaguar fans the ability to develop new games for the platform without having to worry about securing rights from Hasbro to do it. The Jaguar was the first 64-bit console, but achieved limited success because of the difficulty of developing for its multi-chip system architecture.
David Raiklen wrote, directed and scored his first film at age 9. He began studying keyboard and composing at age 5. He attended, then taught at UCLA, USC and CalArts. Among his teachers are John Williams and Mel Powel.
He has worked for Fox, Disney and Sprint. David has received numerous awards for his work, including the 2004 American Music Center Award. Dr. Raiklen has composed music and sound design for theater (Death and the Maiden), dance (Russian Ballet), television (Sing Me a Story), cell phone (Spacey Movie), museums (Museum of Tolerance), concert (Violin Sonata ), and film (Appalachian Trail).
His compositions have been performed at the Hollywood Bowl and the first Disney Hall. David Raiken is also host of a successful radio program, Classical Fan Club.