When Atari released the Atari VCS, they were hoping for a breakthrough in the video game industry, but the results were disappointing. To summarize, Atari’s appearance, as well as its hardware, are both showing their age. It has now been widely reported that Atari will no longer produce the Atari VCS 800, a video game console that draws inspiration from the company’s iconic past.
Atari reported in their most recent earnings report that sales of VCS consoles and cartridges dropped “from €2.3M to €0.2M, primarily resulting from cartridge activity and underperformance by the VCS,” a significant decrease from the first half of the year.
In 2017, Atari unveiled its updated video game console, the Atari VCS (also known as the Ataribox). Despite raising over $3 million on Indiegogo in June 2018, the project’s delivery date was pushed back to December 2020. After several iterations on hardware and software, the final product emulated the appearance of an Atari 2600 while actually running a modified version of Debian Linux on an AMD Raven Ridge APU.
The Atari VCS™ delivers a universe of games, apps, streaming entertainment and built-in Chrome to your TV or monitor in glorious HD. Access thousands of games, endless entertainment and unmatched flexibility. Unlock a customizable multimedia PC for unmatched freedom and versatility. With everything from retro to indie to modern AAA gaming, there’s something for every gamer.”
Even though the Atari VCS 800 began shipping to early backers only two years ago, it appears to have already died a quick death. According to Atari’s latest financial results, “the suspension of direct hardware manufacturing relationships, particularly with regards to the Atari VCS, for which a new commercial strategy has been implemented as of the end of calendar year 2022.”
The report also suggests Atari will implement “a new commercial strategy for VCS” and launch “a complementary hardware strategy via partnerships and under licensing agreements,” so it’s not like they’re completely abandoning hardware. This means that we may eventually see joysticks, controllers, and other add-ons for the VCS made by companies other than Sony and Nintendo.
Alternatively, Atari could sell licenses to other companies to use the Atari brand on their own game consoles. In the meantime, they intend to keep releasing new “premium games” that use Atari’s IP as well as to make a profit off of that IP through “new NFT initiatives” and other blockchain-related projects.