Anyone? Nope, didn't thinks o.
The architect of Atari’s much-delayed retro console, the Atari VCS, has quit the project, claiming he hasn't been paid in six months. The departure could put the entire affair in doubt. Games industry veteran, one of the founding team members behind the Xbox, and Atari system architect, Rob Wyatt told The Register: “As of …
This has been claimed before- in the context of the console- and it confused me then. Is the number of employees quoted those of the "Atari" group (#) as a whole- which appears to consist of more than one company, subsidiary or other legal entity- or merely those in the specific subsidiary (or whatever) that is working on the console and also legally identified as "Atari"?
The kind of thing they're apparently developing doesn't cost anywhere near that much, and handling brand licensing is perhaps one or two full-time jobs?
The entire VCS project would be easily doable on a total budget of their posted annual losses alone.
€5m gets you a long way with commodity amd64 hardware - hardware dev costs should be a few hundred thousand total, tooling maybe fifty k, two or three software devs, plus a project manager. Maybe 400k on personnel per annum?
So that's slop of at least €2-3m for unforeseen expenses, 3rd party sweeteners and marketing.
They're either totally incompetent or never had any intention of shipping a product.
What are they spending €22 million a year on?
Do we know that this is the only project they're working on? Where is the $20 million a year in revenue coming from, they are obviously doing other stuff now and maybe plan to do even more things in the future. The Atari name still carries a lot of weight for the over 40 set, there must be some ways they can leverage that or think they can other than a retro VCS?
I don't know why they don't make an ACTUAL VCS. Do the circuit diagrams still exist? It would be simple for a moderately skilled engineer to implement that in an FPGA.
Sadly, I think you are right. They are either totally incompetent or scamming people.
It probably cost a lot more to develop the likes of the Xbox One, PS4 and Switch, but they all use some customised hardware (whether custom designed or modified). It sounds like Atari are using pretty much off the shelf hardware, with the only real design work being the motherboards and casing.
I can understand there will be considerations for manufacture. After all, it's one thing to design a PCB for yourself, where you can take as long as you want, but it's entirely another thing to design one that can be manufactured and assembled quickly, probably by a machine, and within a tight budget. That's why companies do things like switching out relatively cheap components for even cheaper components, that just shave a few pennies off.
I wanted this to succeed. I still do. I didn't have an Atari as a kid myself, so beyond playing them at Friends houses, and in shops, I don't have any happy memories of them. But I have friends that do, and while Atari arcade games share nothing with the home consoles beyond the name, I do have happy memories of spending hours playing those.
I would like to have seen that Atari come back.
I would imagine they might still owe residuals to former employees and other companies that they had licensed 'intellectual property' from. Like they might be paying Amblin Entertainment for the exclusive rights to producing an ET video game. Or owe money to some developer that wrote some chunk of code that is still use with Atari's licensed properties.
But those things wouldn't account for the $22,500,000 hole in their budget... Even adding in the $3,300,000 in salaries, rent on an office, and other operating costs, there is still a lot of money missing.
if everyone working for you is a contractor (1099 or corporation) then you don't have "employees".
ideally it's a better model, but I have to wonder where all of the money was going, regardless.
Atari could do some really good things with this, but maybe it would work better as emulation on an RPi, which would bring the price WAY down, ya know?
And all of the games loaded via USB...
Nope, sorry, official post offices don't do mail forwarding, so that's not a proof. Also, the street view of the 78 shows a regular private door with ring buttons and a badge lock, located next to the post office.
It might be a forwarding company in there, but you've not shown anything that proves it, yet :)
'Still not illegal to throw garbage away. For now...'
Yes, but in some places you're not allowed to chuck just anything into a landfill, for example:
I like retro computing - that's why I have lots of emulators for those machines of yesteryear. I also owned an Atari 2600 VCS in my yoof. My memories of that machine were that all arcade conversions left a LOT to the imagination. When newer better consoles (Coleco vision) came out the 2600 became landfill. So no, I wouldn't buy a 2600 re-make. I had one because it was the best at the time until I got my Commodore 64.
FWIW, I was going to comment that this whole thing reminds me of a bigger budget American remake of the Vega+ fiasco.
If El Reg had funded- and lost- all £500,000 of *that* themselves, they'd probably still have got their money's worth from the endless number of stories it gave them the opportunity to print. ;-)
Amiga was an interesting idea, but in my opinion, the IBM PC had the business world and the clones helped it take over. Then Windows. And that was all she wrote.
Intel did what 68k had trouble doing. Even Apple went with Intel for obvious reasons, after having avoided them by going with PPC when 68k wasn't cutting it.
And I don't see a lot of call for retro-Amiga systems. But for those cases, there is always qemu, XMAME, SIMV, and the Raspberry Pi. Heh.
You’re not looking hard enough. The upcoming Apollo Vampire standalone board is pretty much a testament to how popular retro-Amiga systems are.
Of course, Amiga has had multiple chances of catering to those wanting retro-Amiga action. Except that their kits are often overpriced (seriously, the marketroid who came up with the idea of pricing the X1000 the same as a Mac Pro should’ve been sent to an asylum)
Developers thus may not want to provide their games for the platform because it seems there are no security controls, making it easy to copy, share, and pirate titles.
Sounds like a true retro experience - it basically describes the model we had when I was at school and we were all trading cassette copies of games for the Speccy, C64 et al
A lot of retro gaming, indeed retro anything, is usually rose-tinted. I tend to find that once in a while I have a craving for a bit of nostalgia, so I root out my 2600, Dragon32, AmstradCPC and Atari ST emulators. I spend about an hour messing about, I get my fill and and I'm sated for another 6 months or so. I've been messing about with retro gaming for close on 25 years now and each time I find my view is ever more rose-tinted and each time I "time travel" back it gets less and less interesting. Sometimes it's just best to leave the past in the past. I played Red Dead Redemption 2 the other day for the first time ever, loved it to bits, the atmosphere, the gameplay, the story telling, a great experience. Sorry to say that despite owning a 2600 at he age of 7 and loved its version of Space Invaders and it brings back great memories of me and my Dad playing it on a Sunday afternoon, things move on and you can't live in the past.
If I play games at all then it is retro games. I've no interest in these modern console games. Especially ones that require you to go through several minutes of intro. My interest ended when all the button hammering street fighting games appeared.
Give me Namco/Taito or any home PC pre-1984. Keep your bullet-in-the-head sick fantasy games.
TAITO for the win. I was a huge Darius junkie back in the day. Could play through certain paths on a single guy.
As for this whole thing. Originally I was under the impression it was a re-release of the old console, not to be a new platform. Who wants that? The market has its big players and even real companies don't stand a chance. Seems to me that one could buy a broken 2600, put a Pi in it, wire up some USB risers and call it sweet. Retro look, modern emulators. Done.
I finally spun up Shenmue on my Dreamcast the other day, and sat through about 15 minutes of exposition. On the plus side it sets the scene, but conversely I just wanted to pick something up and play! I believe that's the game that invented that sort of nonsense.
Pretty impressive (for its age). It's 20 years old now.
That's got me thinking. Whenever I see a trailer for a new movie, it's invariably a remake or re-imagining of some older film. The games industry seems much more focused on coming up with truly new content. I'd actually quite like it if they did what Hollywood does - a 2019 remake of Monty Mole or Manic Miner with all the graphical and audio goodness that a modern PC/console is capable of could be quite a thing to behold.
unfortunatly not, i honestly cant think of a classic remake that was better than the original, shinier maybe, without the carm or gameplay unfortunatly, probably because to pay for the license of the title they concentrate on shiny graphics and things that look impressive rather than the intangible things like the gameplay, or the quirks of the original platform (try playing a mega drive modded to run as a genesis, the PAL varient was a dirty hack where they under clocked the main cpu by 20% to get the screen to sync, sonic at intended speed is a totally different game as an example)
I don't see how you can fail to build a retro console for less than $250. A full retropie and gamehat costs less than $100 combined and you just slot them together to make a handheld gaming device with a screen, so an actual custom build of a similar design would cost far less, leaving much more than $150 for game licenses.
The problem here is that "Atari" (#) tried to make it into a "proper" console with pretensions to competing with the XBox, PS4 et al. From the point of view of running old VCS games, there's absolutely no reason for the new "VCS" to exist, and that's putting it mildly.
It's been possible to emulate it for decades. Today's hardware is so many orders of magnitude more powerful, it should be possible to do so on pretty much *anything* more powerful than a musical Christmas card. Even the slowest Raspberry Pi is overkill; one of those sub-25-quid handheld Chinese consoles stuffed full of pirate NES games could do the VCS in its sleep. (##)
But then, we've already had the Atari Flashback countless times over, which might be why "Atari" unwisely tried to take a different tack. A retro-emulation VCS was a solved problem that could have been done for peanuts, but while $3m is a lot of Indiegogo money to fritter away, it's a ludicrously small drop in the ocean compared to what would have been spent developing and promoting the PS4 et al.
It's no surprise that it hasn't appeared, and there's no reason for it to do so; it'd have been stupidly overpowered and unnecessary for the long-solved emulation of old VCS games, but it wouldn't have stood a chance in hell against today's consoles.
It's just a nostalgia cash grab (###), reliant upon now-cliched references to bloody wood grain et al to sell itself. The pretensions to being a proper console are little more than a useful crutch for would-be buyers to rationalise buying it- "it's not like I'm just spending several hundred dollars on an excuse to play some ancient games I could play for a fraction of the price" and the pretense that "Atari" is back and its glory days will be recaptured.
No. No, it's not, and no, they won't. Even if they'd built the console, you'd have played the old games for a while, realised how simplistic and badly-dated most of them are, tried out the modern functionality, including a few underdeveloped games made by third-tier independent developers- nothing you'd recognise and nothing that would hold the attention- and it'd have quickly been consigned to gathering dust after you got bored and went back to your XBox One.
So, no loss really.
(#) i.e. The current owners of the Atari IP, the original company and anything resembling a legitimate continuation of it being long gone.
(##) Any remaining problems with emulation are more likely due to the accuracy of the software. The VCS was reliant upon *very* low-level control of the hardware- which was both its weakness and its strength- which means one has to very accurately reproduce its timing and other characteristics; apparently some games still won't run perfectly for this reason.
(###) Or would have been if they'd even managed to get it up and running.
Heck, if the joystick is the good bit then sell those and some subscription service to let people get bundles of retro games for the consoles they already own. If this proves successful enough try to persuade one of the big players to bring out an "Atari edition" re-boxing of their existing console.
Bacs payments to my Swiss account please.
Thanks for the excellent investigative reporting. It's truly a shame that there are so many "news" outlets on the web these days that are happy to post corporate propaganda press releases simply to get clicks rather than ask the simplest questions. When it comes to these kind of "fraud by incompetence" and over hyped crowdfunding operations, any outlets that participate in drumming up support by spreading false narratives are just as guilty of fraud as the companies that enter into it.
TomsHardware posted this today:
Now i'm particularly lazy so I skim read some bits, but this is the same Atari isn't it? I mean there can't be another one can there??? I think i've been dragged into an alternate reality...only by following the teachings of the reg can I make my way back to sanity..
You have to admire that the article gave two large paragraphs of the short article under that link over to the "custom cooling" system, a description which boils down to "two fans suck air in the back and blow it out the front over the top of the graphics processor gubbins".
In other words, the custom cooling solution is like any other computer's cooling solution, just with the outside-to-inside-the-casing airflow reversed.
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'Fred Chesnais, is paid just under €1m ($1.1m) a year in compensation.'
For doing what?
Maybe he could have organised some talks with AMD and they would have helped design a semi custom board (they seem to be good at this and have design wins for xbox and probably the next PlayStation) . Looks like they have tried to do it all themselves with nothing to show apart from marketing bollocks the likes of which Apple and MS would be proud.
FFS. What are we looking at here for the basics of a simple VCS clone..a few evenings with an FPGA, one S/DRAM chip, some flash RAM, power circuit, SD card holder and a few connectors for the right dev?
Oh, that would be overkill...
How could such an ancient console be so hard to develop?
The simplest of Raspberries these days would have enough power and memory to run the entire collection of Atari games, perhaps hanging off a cable like a chromecast, with wireless joysticks that look like that beauty on the article.
So much here I don't understand.
"Atari wishes to inform you that some of your questions indicate that you possess information that is incorrect and/or outdated. In addition, some aspects of the Atari VCS project clearly have been leaked to you in violation of existing confidentiality agreements, and Atari therefore hereby reserves its rights in that respect."
That sounds about as accurate as when they tried to detail their partnership with Dupont to call their Walmart exclusive the Kevlar model, or when I got this for outing their marketing B.S.....
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The financial figures of the article made me fall off my chair !
2.5 M$ loss, 1.1 M$ for one of only 3 employees (I thought they were a whopping 10, couple of years ago ...),
not selling anything what so ever, no investment, only leaving on some fading IPs, squeezing the last bit of cash
from a handful of gullible idiots ...
I really want this CEO dude's job ! Probably not a lot to do, not a clue how to configure a raspberry PI, selling fuck all, etc ...
"Atari is estimated to have “pre sold” fewer than 15,000 VCS consoles whereas there are millions of players on the Xbox and PlayStation."
"pre-sold" ... How nicely is this put, El Reg, even with "", LOL
But two things stopped me putting money down:
(i) they're neon nightmares — the base has a light ring in it that insists on blaring out in different colours and combinations upon every action that you take. It's unbelievably ugly; and
(ii) realistically, I'd probably never get a joystick.
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