Atari's new VCS console will be accompanied by a storefront, but the digital marketplace won't copy Steam's catalog of AAA games.
The Atari VCS is a kind of jack-of-all-trades. It's a console-PC hybrid that supports Linux and Windows 10. It's also a console with its own first-party storefront, controllers, and online ecosystem. But unlike Steam or the PlayStation Store, the Atari VCS store won't sell $59.99 AAA games--at least not at launch. Instead, the Atari VCS games will be capped at $25 a pop and will be more like GOG than Steam.
Atari is taking a smaller approach with its store and will exclusively sell remasters, classic version of its old games, and indie games at launch, complete with its vault of 100 Atari classics, Anstream on-demand retro game streaming, and remasters of older games like Missile Command.
"Our goal plan is to treat indie games like our AAA content. So, if by "Triple-A" games you are asking if the Atari VCS will feature titles similar to "Halo" or "Last of Us," then the answer is "not at the moment." But we know the Atari VCS can run many AAA titles, and we expect some of them to make their way into our Store over time," Atari VCS Chief Operating Officer Michael Arzt said in a recent Q&A.
"Atari is primarily interested in promoting new games from independent developers and creators, modern reinterpretations of classic arcade and home console games, PC, arcade and console games that may have been unavailable to mass audiences for many years.
"These games will help revive the spirit of independent 3rd party development that is part of Atari's DNA and also be relatively inexpensive compared to big-budget console games, many of which may land in the $70 price range as the new console generation begins.
"Titles in Atari's store are expected to be much more affordable, with prices ranging anywhere from $3 to $25, with no fees imposed by Atari for online access."
Atari is positioning their box as a kind of niche device aimed at retro gamers as well as tech enthusiasts who want something a little different. The Atari VCS seems iffy when compared to the PS5 and Xbox Series X, but it's not meant to compete on those terms. It's a multimedia PC-console that can stream games, movies, music, play Steam games, and has access to a bunch of old-school Atari games.
The Atari VCS releases Fall 2020 in two versions: $249 for the 4GB model, and $279 for the 8GB model.
Atari VCS Specifications
Unit Dimensions 14.5" x 5.3" x 1.6"
Unit Weight 3 lbs.
Materials Plastic, Metal, Wood
Operating System Linux OS based on Ubuntu (Linux Kernel 4.10)
Compatible Systems Linux
Power Low TDP architecture - Less Heat & Noise
Connections HDMI 2.0, 2.4/5GHz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, Gigabit Ethernet, 4xUSB 3.0
External Inputs Classic Joystick, Modern Controller, Microphone
Storage 32GB eMMC, external HD, SD card
RAM 8GB DDR4 RAM
Memory 32GB eMMC
SoC AMD Ryzen R1606G 2-core, 4-thread CPU, Vega 3 graphics
HDCP Integration HDCP 2.2
Second Screen (Screencasting) Yes
Cloud Storage Yes. Additional Service Offering
Required Internet Connection Not for classic gaming but required to access all features
Cross Game Chat Skype, Discord, etc.
Voice Commands 4-front facing mic array
Subscription Needed? No. Includes cloud and other services.
Live Streaming Yes with Twitch.tv
Mouse & Keyboard Support Yes