RIP? Atari’s grand comeback has seemingly hit a major roadblock as the company announced the suspension of direct hardware manufacturing relationships in its most recent earnings report dated December 16. The company didn’t mention any alternative partnerships meaning the VCS could be headed for an early grave.
Atari’s return to the grand stage of gaming was always a longshot, but one the company was willing to take. It started teasing a new game console, initially known as the Ataribox, in mid-2017 and many at the time thought it would be little more than a retro mini console like the NES Classic Edition (in hindsight, that’s probably all it should have been).
The Ataribox eventually because the Atari VCS and as we’d learn, it was much more than a mini console pre-loaded with classic games. The system would pack a custom AMD processor with Radon graphics and ship with up to 8GB of RAM and 32GB of eMMC storage.
Pre-orders were set to open at the end of 2017 but got pushed back to May of 2018 through Indiegogo. Things seemed promising at first despite the $199 starting price, but then more delays came. A promised 2019 window came and went, then the pandemic gave Atari another reason to delay in 2020.
Ultimately, the first units wouldn’t make it out to early backers until the very end of 2020. Retail availability wouldn’t occur until halfway through 2021 but by that point, did anybody really care?
Atari in its latest financial report said earnings for the first-half of the year ending September 30, 2022 were €4.3M ($4.6 million), down 27 percent compared to the same period last year. Worse yet, revenue from hardware sales dipped a whopping 92 percent – from €2.3M to €0.2M – during the same time frame.
For what it is worth, the base console has been slashed from $199.99 to $159.99 over on Atari’s site. Optionally, you can nab a bundle that comes with the Speakerhat for $303.99. At this point, the Lego Atari 2600 kit seems like the better buy.