Atari has announced a partnership with retro-game streaming specialist Antstream to bring the latter's Antstream Arcade platform to the former's Atari VCS Linux-powered PC-cum-console device - assuming the long-delayed system ever actually launches, of course.
Atari, long divorced from the company as originally founded and these days simply a brand worn by the company formerly known as Infogrames, announced plans to release a games console based on its Atari Video Computer System (VCS)/Atari 2600 back in July 2017. In September 2017 the Ataribox was officially unveiled as a Linux-powered miniature PC powered by AMD hardware, but a planned crowdfunding launch was delayed due to an unspecified 'key element'. By March 2018 Atari was confident enough to showcase non-functional prototypes and controller imagery before promising to open crowdfunding in late May 2018.
When the Atari VCS campaign finally launched, it broke its crowdfunding goal in less than a day; by March 2019, however, Atari was warning of delays from its planned first-quarter 2019 shipments with the promise of delivering a more powerful machine 'at the end of 2019.' In April this year the console's design was overhauled to simplify manufacturing, while Atari claimed it was still on-track to deliver the devices to backers by the end of the year with a retail launch in early 2020.
Now, Atari is trumpeting a partnership with retro-gaming specialist Antstream, which had a crowdfunder of its own back in April, to bring the company's all-you-can eat arcade platform to the Atari VCS - but with still no evidence of pre-production or even functional prototype hardware, backers are getting increasingly concerned.
'Antstream Arcade is a perfect partner for Atari and its fans,' claims Atari chief executive Frédéric Chesnais. 'Anstream’s offering lets players instantly access a vast library of games, including many Atari titles that have not been available for streaming before now. This partnership further cements the Atari VCS as a highly versatile entertainment platform and multimedia streaming device, built to embrace the best of classic and modern gaming.'
'Antstream is thrilled to partner with Atari to deliver the magic of the Antstream Arcade service to Atari VCS users,' adds Antstream chief executive Steve Cottam. 'Our exclusive Atari VCS edition of the Antstream app puts us one step closer to fulfilling our mission of making every classic game all the way back to Pong available for retro gaming fans with a modern twist.'
Backers of the Atari VCS crowdfunding campaign have not welcomed the news with open arms: 'I don’t like playing games remotely, only streaming the video to my local console, which could play all those games locally as well using far less resources,' one backer complains. 'Using less resources is imho better for the environment and helps fight climate changes.'
Other backers, concerned at the apparent lack of progress and repeated delays, have begun demanding refunds of their pledges, though others are keeping the faith. 'I still believe in the Atari VCS,' one backer states, 'I don’t know why I do I just do so I’m going to wait and see what happens.'
More information on the Atari VCS is available on Indiegogo - a crowdfunding company which, it must be noted, recently dissolved its UK arm in an apparent effort to dodge legal action over its handling of the failed Retro Computers Limited ZX Vega+ campaign.
April 7 2020 | 14:00