Atari VCS Delayed Again, Gets a Spec Upgrade
It’s been about 10 months since we reported on the Atari VCS—the classic gaming brand’s first foray into the hardware realm in decades. At that time, the company announced the launch of preorders for the new video game console along with a slate of game developers it had lined up to work on creating original content for the platform. The idea, at the time, was for the console to launch sometime in the spring of 2019. Well, Day 1 of spring 2019 is upon us, but the latest update provided by Atari points to a missed promise.
At the Game Developers Conference this week, Atari said it still plans to ship preordered Atari VCS consoles to backers by the end of the year, but that the system won’t be made commercially available until 2020. (Interestingly, though, the company’s Indiegogo page still shows that preorders will ship by July 2019—not sure if it just hasn’t been updated or what’s going on there.)
They have a pretty solid reason for the delay, however. According to a statement put out by the company, the VCS will now be powered by a new, more powerful AMD Ryzen chip. It’s the incorporation of this new chipset that will result in the delayed delivery of the console, but it could pay off in the form of a much higher quality system. The new chip replaces one that was selected back in 2017, and it comes as Atari and AMD have been working together to improve the system architecture of the forthcoming console.
In the statement, Atari CEO Frédéric Chesnais said that it’s one of his company’s goals to “establish Atari VCS as a platform of reference, supported by a strong online community.” So, while it may not ship on time, the system is certainly a major part of the company’s plans moving forward.
From what we know about the new hardware, the VCS seems like a combination console and streaming content platform. Other notable specs, beyond the new chipset, include things like 4K/HDR/60 fps support, 32 gigs of onboard storage that will be expandable, and live streaming support through Twitch.
Reading through the specs and features of the Atari VCS, it’s almost difficult to look at it as a gaming console. It does so much more and feels more like a unique piece of entertainment hardware that happens to stream games. Users will be able to customize the system through the integrated Linux “Sandbox” platform by importing and creating their own content and apps, stream web-based video and entertainment, and use voice commands to control various functions and connected devices.