The VCS Is Retro Inspired, Not A Retro Box; Atari Talking To Devs About Reimagining Its 200+ IPs

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Apr 20, 2018
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Exactly one month ago Atari announced that its highly anticipated Ataribox console would be rebranded into the Atari VCS. We’re still waiting on a pre-order date but that should be announced in the next ten days or so, given that the official website still mentions April.

In an interview published today by Eurogamer, Chief Operating Officer (COO) Michael Arzt revealed a few additional tidbits about the Atari VCS. For instance, he would compare it with the likes of Xbox One or PlayStation 4 rather than something like the NES Mini.

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No – that’s a retro box. There’s retro box, and there’s retro-inspired. I go to a Mini Cooper analogy – that car is not retro, it’s retro-inspired. That’s how we look at this device. It’s a modern device that’s retro-inspired. The current Mini Cooper will do everything the old Mini Cooper did. This will do anything the old 2600 or 5200 did, but it also does a lot of modern things very well, if we do it right.

The issue is that Atari is dramatically underequipped to go and fight with giants like Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. That’s probably why they are trying to leverage their veritable treasure trove of intellectual properties, which are being offered to game developers of all sizes interested in taking a stab at a remake or reimagining.

We’re looking at everything from our history. Will it all be available from day one? No, that would be a monumental undertaking. Even the Xbox versions and PlayStation versions of Flashback [a compilation of classic Atari games], we parse them out in chunks, right? Those Flashbacks, they have some of the arcade stuff, they have some of the console stuff, they mix it up. I would think that’s how we approach the classic catalog. But by the same token, we’re very excited about games like Tempest 4000, which is a completely re-imagined take on Tempest.

We want more of those to be made, whether we’re making them, or we’re working with independent studios for them to develop. We’ve got over 200 different pieces of IP that are all available to be re-imagined. We’re working on some of them, but there’s a whole lot that we will do very favorable deals with independent studios and smaller studios, to give them an opportunity.

We’re talking with third-party publishers, and giving them the opportunity to… if some of them already have things that already run on Linux. Great – port them over, we’ll give you a really favorable deal if you put them in our store. We’re having those conversations. We’re also saying, are you interested in taking a stab at one of our classic IPs?

Normally, and for the mega big classics like an Asteroids or a Centipede, those kind of games we’ll typically do a licensing deal where there’s an upfront payment – but for the vast majority of our titles? Someone could come to us and say ‘I have an idea for Air Sea Battle’, which is a seminal game, but Air Sea Battle can be anything – it doesn’t have to be a literal remake of the game with modern graphics.

Are you eager to learn more about the Atari VCS as we get closer to launch? If so, stay tuned on Wccftech for all the latest updates.

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