Who will truly have an interest within the VCS?
At GDC this week, I acquired an up-close take a look at the Atari VCS. Atari’s upcoming dwelling machine, initially referred to easily because the ‘Atari Field’, may be very completely different from what I used to be anticipating, and it’s probably not what you assume it’s both.
It’s not Atari’s model of the NES Mini, it’s not a console attempting to compete with the Xbox One or PS4, and it’s not likely an Atari-Ouya. Put as merely as attainable, the Atari VCS is a Linux-based lounge PC, much like Atari’s tackle a Steam Machine. The model I noticed was only for show, however I acquired a rundown of what to anticipate within the remaining product.
Operating a customized model of Linux, the VCS could have a console-like interface aimed toward being accessible and welcoming to a wider, non-gaming viewers. It can additionally include some traditional Atari arcade video games (although we don’t know precisely what) and have its personal retailer to purchase video games that aren’t simply retro, however trendy titles as properly.
Atari Join COO Michael Arzt mentioned ‘I do not assume it is as bold as a Steam [Machine].’
That mentioned, the VCS is focusing on a considerably cheaper price level than most trendy PCs, between $250 and $300, and could have no devoted GPU, that means it is going to probably even be considerably much less highly effective. Atari Join COO Michael Arzt in contrast it to “an excellent laptop computer with out a keyboard” — although precisely how good is an unanswered query, and on the subject of trendy video games there’s an enormous distinction between powering Into The Breach and Murderer’s Creed Origins.
Regardless of having its personal streamlined interface, recreation retailer, media apps (like Netflix and Hulu), and web browser, Arzt says they’re extra thinking about calling the VCS a pc as an alternative of a console. I requested if it was then nearer to a Steam Machine than the NES Mini, and he mentioned “yeah, however I don’t assume it’s as bold as a Steam [Machine].”
Artz defined that “it’s a way more informal system.” Atari desires this to be a system that anybody can simply plug in, perceive, and begin utilizing straight away. He gave an instance explaining that they need mothers to have the ability to activate the VCS and simply discover Netflix, however in addition they wish to entice a youthful viewers that may solely know of Atari’s veteran fame.
The Atari VCS probably will not have entry to Steam, except you put in your individual OS in its sandbox mode.
And for the extra hardcore viewers on the market, there can be a sandbox setting in-built that may help you run and modify the Linux working system, making it a extra conventional PC when you have the know-how to take action. Because it’s marketed as being usable for contemporary video games too, I requested Artz if you happen to might entry your Steam library with it as properly, and he mentioned the sandbox mode would probably be the one place to take action except they strike a take care of Valve.
Truthfully, all these various factors have left me questioning who the heck the Atari VCS is definitely for. It’s not attempting to compete with consoles, however has options and a worth level much like them. It’s much less hardcore and bold than Valve’s already failed Steam Machines experiment, however invitations PC avid gamers to manage and customise its OS regardless of probably having an underpowered and unchangeable configuration. And it desires to be an informal, simple to make use of leisure system possibility for the plenty like a ChromeCast or Roku, however is promoting itself as a full PC beneath a gaming model.
It’s onerous to make any actual judgments till we all know the ultimate specs of what is going to truly be contained in the VCS’ admittedly pretty shell. It might be that Atari manages to strike some miraculous stability of worth and energy that makes it a fascinating lounge PC, however that appears onerous to consider. Even when they do, you’ll be beholden to no matter apps, video games, and customized UI Atari has made accessible except you put in your individual Linux OS, which is not precisely a pleasant course of.
I’m left skeptical as a result of I genuinely don’t know who the Atari VCS is being made for. There are stronger lounge PC choices, higher consoles, and cheaper methods to get entry to leisure apps in your TV. Atari appears to be leaning into the nostalgia-factor whereas retreading the identical floor because the Ouya and SteamOS, which aren’t precisely probably the most interesting footsteps to comply with in, and the uncertainty of its last-minute cancellation and unfinished spec record do not instill a lot confidence.
Tom Marks is an Affiliate Editor specializing in PC gaming at IGN. You may comply with him on Twitter.