Atari VCS release date, price and specs: Atari’s retro console makes $2 million in just 24 hours

Almost six months after preorders should have opened, and a year since it was first unveiled, the Atari VCS (formerly known as Ataribox) has landed on Indiegogo.

It’s a Linux-based retro-style console designed to play new games, as well as hark back to a simpler time of Missile Command and Breakout

Preorders were meant to open on 14 December, but in a last-minute email to fans at the time, Atari announced the Ataribox was delayed. Apparently, Atari needed “to create the platform and ecosystem the Atari community deserves.” 

The Indiegogo campaign for the Atari VCS has already raised, at the time of writing, more than $2 million (of its $100,000 target) from more than 7,700 backers, and there’s still a month to go. In fact, demand was so high, the crowdfunding site temporarily crashed.

Shortly after the campaign launched, Atari released a note saying that more 5,000 Atari VCS consoles had been preordered and while there is still stock available, including packaged deals, numbers are starting to dwindle, relatively speaking.

Below we’ve outlined what we know about the Atari VCS, including prices and release date, and will update this article as more details come to light. 

Atari VCS: Everything you need to know about the former Ataribox 

Atari VCS: Why is Atari launching a new console?

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2017 may have been the year of 4K powerhouses like the Xbox One X and the PS4 Pro, but Nintendo killed it with the innovative – and modestly powered – Nintendo Switch. Even Nintendo’s retro-revival console, the Nintendo SNES Classic Mini caused a storm, so it appears gaming is not all about pure power anymore.

As a result, and hoping to ride the wave of nostalgia seen across the tech scene at the moment (see Polaroid’s latest instant camera and Nokia’s 3310 and “banana phone” launches), Atari is likely hoping to target and capitalise on the gamers of yore who played the company’s previous consoles some 20 years ago. 

Atari VCS features and specs

Before preorders of the Atari VCS opened on Indiegogo this week, it wasn’t entirely clear exactly what the Atari VCS box actually was. Many believed it was simply an emulator following in the footsteps of the NES and SNES Mini consoles, but Atari hinted at it being something more and now we’ve got confirmation. 

In a press release, Atari explained the Atari VCS will include a custom-built processor made by AMD (yes, the same company that built microprocessors for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.) This chip will feature a variation of AMD’s Radeon graphics technology, meaning the Atari VCS will run certain modern PC games. Elsewhere, the Atari VCS runs on a variant of Linux, meaning it’s somewhat customisable.

The Atari VCS is also likely to support 4K resolution and HDR colour at 60fps, meaning it opens itself up to streaming. Other features are a little sketchy but the Atari VCS will additionally support dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, USB 3.0 and come with built-in storage.

Atari VCS: What games will it play?

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Beyond the vague “Atari VCS will have access to a vast array of games, media and streaming content options,” statement, Atari is giving little away in terms of what specific games the Atari VCS will play. In fact, the press release simply said it will support “many popular modern titles.”

Like with the Mini Nintendo consoles, the Atari VCS will ship with more than 100 games as part of the so-called Atari Vault collection, which includes Missile Command, Breakout and Centipede

Atari VCS release date and price

Before the launch of the crowdfunding campaign, Atari was pricing its retro revival console at a whopping $250 to $350, making it more pricey than a PS4 or Xbox One S, and significantly more expensive than Nintendo’s respective retro console relaunches.

Thankfully, the Indiegogo campaign shows the cheapest black “Onyx” model coming in at $199. A Collector’s Edition, which features a wooden finish, will set you back a staggering $299.

The Atari VCS Classic Joystick costs an additional $29, while the Atari VCS Modern Controller is $49. Atari says it plans to ship the consoles and controllers “in mid-2019”, but no UK prices or a specific UK release date has been announced.  

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Ataribox console: What does it look like?

After being initially teased back at E3, the Ataribox (now Atari VCS) was officially unveiled in an email to Atari fans in July 2017. Modelled on the original 2600 console, it appears that this is more than a simple throwback.

It still has the retro-styled vents and ribs, along with a raised back that follows the contours of the hardware contained within. It’s an interesting meld of new meets old.

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