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Atari System Speculation 2024


rocketfan

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With Atari making some interesting moves and doing more apparently good things, I wanted to throw out a couple ideas where they could go with products from here.

 

1) The 2600+ is a great nod to fans for sure, but I haven't taken the plunge yet.    What would convince me?

 

       - More controller support.  Atari branded 7800-type two button controller, and re-released trackball style controller.

       - More dip-switch multi-cart collections.  I find this concept cool.  Imagine if they released 3 or 4 of these with the whole 2600 Activision library?  MUST BUY!

 

2) The "Modern VCS" is still an oddity to me.  They have some great software activity through Digital Eclipse and so on though, and I like the idea of an "Atari Console" that can hold it, and with Atari-centric controllers like the "classic controller" or something similar, but I also want  physical media.  Evercade seems to be doing OK with the physical media concept.  You can also see that after 40 years, Atari 2600 game carts still have relevance.  So what would I buy?

 

   - A similar device with good Atari-ish controllers, and a PHYSICAL MEDIA port.  What would be awesome is an expanded port like the 7800 but with a porch for more modern SD-card-like capacity along the lines of Nintendo-switch media.  If this slot could take classical 2600/7800 plus new content carts with the added porch it would allow buying collectible old-school carts, but also supporting/releasing collections of games from other Atari consoles (5200, Jaguar) all the way to the new digital Eclipse stuff via actual physical cartridges.  I guess this is a mash-up of the 2600+ and the "modern VCS"/Atari box.  Slot might look like this with the "porch" for new high-capacity media in the area as indicated on top:

 

7800_slot.png.86277c4d722da418ef2b83b7c8d088e6.png

 

Just some of my crazy ideas.  I'm wondering what directions others would like Atari to take with their hardware to keep up the momentum?

Edited by rocketfan
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I worry that if Atari starts spreading themselves too thin, it'll put them in a precarious position of having to support / maintain a lot of things that possibly (on their own) do not yield the financial return they'd expect. I think Atari has a good solid set of systems they've produced right now.

 

 

VCS 2: I would like to see the expansion of the VCS, possibly the release of a VCS 2 (whatever they call it). This would allow them to continue to support VCS users as much as possible, while allowing for development of more advanced and improved games. Possibly, they could allow some kind of integration with Steam, GOG, and Humble Bundle or whatever that site is. Creating a VCS 2, again, means that existing support for the VCS continues... any money / effort spent from both the developer and the end-user on VCS products will get continued support based on the fact that the environment and system continues to be supported. It can result in a new line of more advanced VCS systems being produced at additional profit, without having to re-invent the wheel. Think XBOX to XBOX 360 kind of thing.

 

VCS Handheld: Like above, but as a portable device that connects via WiFi

 

VCS Environment: really needs to be able to support as much integration with other external systems as possible that can result in additional monetary streams for that environment. Possibly even release the VCS environment as a download so that people can install it on other hardware (not sure yet if that's a net positive or a net negative $$$). I would also like to see the Atari VCS environment be supported more broadly with other capabilities... such as a high sore competition (possibly initiated by Atari Age) and integrated with... (next item)

 

2600+ / Expansion System: Something that attaches via the USB-C port in the back, has built in Wifi and / or an RJ45 connector, and supports a couple of things 1) updates to the 2600+ firmware directly from Atari, and 2) support for Atari 2600 high scores, 3) global game tournaments, 4) ability to tap into the VCS system of 2600-7800 supported games to participate in the tournaments, etc.  Assumption is that if there's no cartridge in the slot, it boots up with the menu from whatever is on the USB-C, or if you have a cartridge in the slot, it enables high-score keeping so long as you've already configured it for your VCS / Atari account.

 

 

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I don't know if I see Atari releasing new hardware in 2024 directly as it would compete with their 2600+ and VCS, although in theory a portable unit that takes cards makes sense if they can find a partner to do the work and maintenance on it. We'll see some third party Atari-licensed hardware most likely, seems like the Polymega 2600 USB thing could hit in 2024, so maybe that's happening. 

 

I don't think there will be a VCS 2 any time soon, but if there was, all the VCS 2 really calls for is standalone graphics processing to better run more modern games, maybe up the RAM from 8 to 16g. Maybe up from Ryzen 3 to 5 or something. 

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Honestly, I just hope for a way to update the firmware whenever they come out with a new version for the 2600+.

As for the VCS, maybe a drive for physical media would be nice. Especially since CDs and DVDs are probably going outlast most streaming services...unless of course there is a way to upgrade storage and stuff.

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Just now, Mockduck said:

I don't think there will be a VCS 2 any time soon, but if there was, all the VCS 2 really calls for is standalone graphics processing to better run more modern games, maybe up the RAM from 8 to 16g. Maybe up from Ryzen 3 to 5 or something. 

Admittedly, I think 8GB of RAM is more than enough for most modern indie games. Especially when it gives you an opportunity to optimize your code if you're a developer. However, it would be nice to have a system upgrade.

In any case, I consider the VCS an indie games system, similar to the Ouya, but much less of a failure.

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1 hour ago, rocketfan said:

- More controller support.  Atari branded 7800-type two button controller, and re-released trackball style controller.

       - More dip-switch multi-cart collections.  I find this concept cool.  Imagine if they released 3 or 4 of these with the whole 2600 Activision library?  MUST BUY!

There's supposed to be a new Atari 7800 controller coming.  If a re-released trackball style controller comes out, that would be nice.  Also, having more dip-switch multi-carts would be good.  

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I would rather Atari just support that hardware that they have already, and I know that they have updates for the 2600+.   As for the VCS, it has been all over the place with many new game releases, but a zip code error that is limiting how many people can purchase games.   I would like to see them finally address the OS issue and have my fingers crossed that they can offer another year of support.   I cant believe the VCS has survived for 3 years but here we are.   

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2 hours ago, 82-T/A said:

I worry that if Atari starts spreading themselves too thin, it'll put them in a precarious position of having to support / maintain a lot of things that possibly (on their own) do not yield the financial return they'd expect. I think Atari has a good solid set of systems they've produced right now.

Fair enough, and I don't want them to abandon the 2600+ in favor of something else.  That device gives people something to replace 30 or 40 year old hardware that is going to die eventually, and provides a nice platform for home-brew and other "new retro" content.  However, on the New VCS or "modern gaming" world I am not convinced selling the current hardware platform is sustainable for them.  I think they could move in a slightly different direction to help it stay alive and have a unique value vs. just playing Atari content on another platform.  If it does incorporate a cart slot I think it would be priced higher like a "real" modern console, but a niche/specialized cartridge interface (and controllers) would justify a higher price.  To me it would allow it to win the "Why shouldn't I just use my PS5/Xbox?" argument.  Because those don't support this cool new Atari physical media.
 

2 hours ago, 82-T/A said:

VCS Handheld: Like above, but as a portable device that connects via WiFi

That would be sweet!  Maybe dock-able on the next iteration of the Atari box I'm thinking of?!  🙂

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I think Atari has enough platforms to support right now.  A new stand alone plug and play would be good though.  Atari has been trademarking and registering the Jaguar and Lynx hardware and names recently.  I think a Jaguar mini plug and play to be released around October of next year would be great.  Follow that up in 2025 with a Lynx mini handheld.  After that, hopefully they will have their OS and development environment matured enough for a new VCS.

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The VCS is still broken out of the box three years later, the three MyArcade devices they just released are absolute trash, and the 2600+ is in a sad state. Maybe with several updates the 2600+ can be upgraded to just disappointing. 

 

Clearly Atari isn't cut out for hardware anymore. Just focus on stuff like Atari 50 and the Recharged series. 

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1 hour ago, famicommander said:

Clearly Atari isn't cut out for hardware anymore. Just focus on stuff like Atari 50 and the Recharged series. 

LOL, I guess "never do hardware again" is one answer to the question of what Atari should do in the future.  🙂  As you can tell from the initial post I hope they don't take your advice but continue to iterate on a what I consider a bit of a good foundation.  No doubt, you can make a case I can't deny that Atari has gotten a lot wrong with their choices over a long time though.

 

On the subject of the MyArcade devices, to me those are more like flashbacks.  They are "Atari toys" and since they are licensed devices they are off the topic I was considering.  I don't know if Atari tries to drive the development of such things or even have a say in like the quality standards of such third party products like those?  If they are fun and functional I do think they are worth $70 or $80 (equal to about $20 1980 money) for a certain type of nostalgic look back on Atari.

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1 hour ago, rocketfan said:

LOL, I guess "never do hardware again" is one answer to the question of what Atari should do in the future.  🙂  As you can tell from the initial post I hope they don't take your advice but continue to iterate on a what I consider a bit of a good foundation.  No doubt, you can make a case I can't deny that Atari has gotten a lot wrong with their choices over a long time though.

 

On the subject of the MyArcade devices, to me those are more like flashbacks.  They are "Atari toys" and since they are licensed devices they are off the topic I was considering.  I don't know if Atari tries to drive the development of such things or even have a say in like the quality standards of such third party products like those?  If they are fun and functional I do think they are worth $70 or $80 (equal to about $20 1980 money) for a certain type of nostalgic look back on Atari.

There is literally not a worse way out there right now to play Atari games than on the MyArcade devices. Real hardware, PC emulation, compilations on other platforms, Evercade, etc. Every other way you could pick to play Atari games in 2023 is going to be more accurate, have much better controls, and many of them are much less expensive. The MyArcade handheld literally only plays 2600 games and it can't even run those at full speed. 

 

And yes, they are like the Flashbacks.... trash.  Atari should care more about its brand and the legacy of its games than to allow them to be represented in the manner the MyArcade games present them. They are poor stewards of the Atari legacy.

Edited by famicommander
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3 hours ago, famicommander said:

The VCS is still broken out of the box three years later, the three MyArcade devices they just released are absolute trash, and the 2600+ is in a sad state. Maybe with several updates the 2600+ can be upgraded to just disappointing. 

 

Clearly Atari isn't cut out for hardware anymore. Just focus on stuff like Atari 50 and the Recharged series. 

 

Woah... I'm miffed about ordering in August and still not getting my system until mid December. But I think you're really over-exaggerating the problems here. The VCS works fantastic for me, and I have two of them. The new one I did buy, I DID have to reflash the BIOS... which is not idea. I do think Atari should probably open them all up and reflash them before they ship them (ideally)... but the system has decent support, and ideally isn't costing them too much to maintain the OS. I'm a huge fan of the VCS... and I'm not going anywhere and continue to buy games for it.

 

The 2600+, I don't have one yet, but I don't understand the "sad state" you talk about. it seems to me that it plays ~90-95% of the original Atari games (if not closer to 95%). This gives people the opportunity to play games on a modern TV that they really didn't have an option for before unless they went with something else like a Retron. People want nostalgia and the original-looking hardware, that's why the 2600+ has had such a frenzied roll-out ... they probably didn't expect it would be so successful. I am beyond pissed I don't have mine yet, but to say it's a sad state is really not right. Do you have yours yet? Everything I've seen from the people who have them say they're thrilled... and I'm still looking forward to getting mine.

 

 

2 hours ago, rocketfan said:

On the subject of the MyArcade devices, to me those are more like flashbacks.  They are "Atari toys" and since they are licensed devices they are off the topic I was considering.  I don't know if Atari tries to drive the development of such things or even have a say in like the quality standards of such third party products like those?  If they are fun and functional I do think they are worth $70 or $80 (equal to about $20 1980 money) for a certain type of nostalgic look back on Atari.

 

What are these MyArcade devices he's talking about? Is he referring to the Atari GameStation Pro? Because I bought one of those when I got grouchy and tired of waiting for my 2600+, and I've been THRILLED with it. So much in fact that when my 2600+ arrives, I might not even bother unboxing it until I get back from my new years trip because I'm having so much fun with my GSP. I wouldn't change anything except just wanting more games on it by default... haha...

 

 

18 minutes ago, famicommander said:

There is literally not a worse way out there right now to play Atari games than on the MyArcade devices. Real hardware, PC emulation, compilations on other platforms, Evercade, etc. Every other way you could pick to play Atari games in 2023 is going to be more accurate, have much better controls, and many of them are much less expensive. The MyArcade handheld literally only plays 2600 games and it can't even run those at full speed. 

 

And yes, they are like the Flashbacks.... trash.  Atari should care more about its brand and the legacy of its games than to allow them to be represented in the manner the MyArcade games present them. They are poor stewards of the Atari legacy.

 

I'm going to have to look these up... I have no idea what the MyArcade devices are...

 

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5 hours ago, swlovinist said:

I would rather Atari just support that hardware that they have already......  As for the VCS, it has been all over the place with many new game releases, but a zip code error that is limiting how many people can purchase games.   I would like to see them finally address the OS issue and have my fingers crossed that they can offer another year of support.   I cant believe the VCS has survived for 3 years but here we are.   

 

Interestingly enough, it has not just survived...but based on this own website's store purchase # list...even with the zip code B.S.- it is gaining momentum!

 

I too await the long promised O.S. update.

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14 hours ago, PowerDubs said:

Yup- ...the Polymega add-on.  Hopefully 1st quarter...but who knows.

More news to me.  I was familiar with Polymega as a higher priced emulation solution for real carts and ripping like PS2 discs, but didn't know they were going to make an Atari cart module.  Hrm.  Reading about it seems a little complicated - you add the box for the disc drive ($150), then add the module for Atari ($80) and plug that into your VCS to play physical media with original controllers.  As a solution for present owners of Polymega it is a great add.  For those who already own VCS, it gets you there.  If I'm correct about that, it sounds kind of not so elegant and expensive to consider if you have none of those to begin with.  IMO it begs to have the guts of a VCS emulation computer put back inside the Polymega to give you the whole package including the modern capabilities and controllers in one box.  Maybe that could be an evolution of whatever is happening there though.

 

BTW, if Atari ever does offer a modern form of physical media I'm highly in favor of SD-card like media a-la Nintendo Switch as opposed to optical media.  Optical discs have limited shelf life and the readers also tend to have troubles as they get really old.  I have a stack of old VCS carts that work fine after 40 years. 

Edited by rocketfan
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My prediction, much of 2024 will mirror 2023 with sporadic releases, maybe a new reimagined title.  T

oward the end of 2024 Atari will announce a new portable unit (essentially a portable 2600 +) but with SD card capability. While I predict it will have WIFI capability and an abbreviated OS, I predict (and I hope Im wrong on this one) it wont interface with the Atari VCS OS.

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On 12/4/2023 at 3:35 PM, Flyindrew said:

end of 2024 Atari will announce a new portable unit

This has been suggested multiple times.  Also, I have seen articles saying the licensing deal for Evercade to make Atari carts is ending this year.  So yeah, seems like a strong possibility Atari will do something on the handheld front?  The thought I mentioned above is the handheld should be dock-able in the next version Atari Box.  When docked - the game I'm playing on the handheld could be played on the console in some way as if the handheld were acting as the game cartridge.  Maybe that's just over-complicating and making it further from point A to point B though...
 

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9 hours ago, rocketfan said:

This has been suggested multiple times.  Also, I have seen articles saying the licensing deal for Evercade to make Atari carts is ending this year.  So yeah, seems like a strong possibility Atari will do something on the handheld front?  The thought I mentioned above is the handheld should be dock-able in the next version Atari Box.  When docked - the game I'm playing on the handheld could be played on the console in some way as if the handheld were acting as the game cartridge.  Maybe that's just over-complicating and making it further from point A to point B though...
 

I for one love your idea. Its the Atari version of Nintendo Switch.

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22 hours ago, PowerDubs said:

 

Maybe sooner than later...

ngl, an Atari entry into the handheld hybrid market alongside the Steam Deck and the Nintendo Switch would be awesome. I just hope they use more up-to-date ARM hardware than the Switch. I also want it to be smaller than the Steam Deck for sure though.

Edited by r_chase
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