Atari consolidated its position as the number one console manufacturer with the release of the iconic Atari 2600 in 1977 and held the number one position until the release of Nintendo’s legendary NES console in 1984. After a series of commercial failures throughout the following decade, Atari Corporation decided to quit its hardware business in 1996 and say farewell to its console production. However, Atari’s console manufacturing just made a huge comeback, thanks to the rise of retro gaming, and the first new Atari sold in 40 years is now on sale.
The newly released Atari VCS, the brand’s first video computer system in four decades, is now available at retailers in North America, pricing at around $299.99, as reported by HeyPoorPlayer. The console is available in two different versions, the Onyx Base bundle that includes the console but not the controller, and the All-In bundle, which consists of the console, and two controllers, one of which is modeled after the legendary CX40 joystick. There are dozens of games available at launch, including the all-new releases and over a hundred overhauled Atari classics from the ‘70s and ‘80s.
Though both versions of the Atari VCS console feature the same physical design (with different color accents) intended to pay homage to the original Atari 2600, their hardware allows gamers to enjoy modern games and streaming entertainment via the console’s Linux-based operating system. In fact, the Linux/PC hybrid nature of the system will enable gamers to download and install other compatible games, including those compatible with the current version of Microsoft’s OS, Windows 10, provided that the hardware meets the game’s system requirements. To shed some light on the console’s processing power, the VCS was demonstrated in 2020 playing Fortnite and Borderlands 2.
The “VCS” in the console’s name stands for Video Computer System, which the new console shares with its predecessor. The Atari 2600’s original name was, in fact, Atari Video Computer System, abbreviated VCS, which was changed to Atari 2600 somewhere around 1982. Still, despite the name change, the console entered the gaming industry’s history as a product that popularized the use of microprocessor-based hardware and games contained on ROM cartridges. Thanks to its revolutionary hardware, the console helped establish Atari as the number one console manufacturer in the same year it was released. Its popularity ensured Atari’s domination with over 50% share of the gaming console market by 1981.
However, that changed in 1984, with the launch of the Nintendo Entertainment System, which quickly dethroned Atari. Atari developed and launched seven successor consoles over the years, but none were a match for the new king of the hill (NES), and the company abandoned its hardware production in 1996, one year after releasing their Atari Jaguar CD console.
Though described as “inspired by the past, built for the future,” the newly released Atari VCS can’t really compete with the modern gaming hardware and subsequently can’t possibly reach its old fame. And it isn’t meant to – the system is primarily geared towards retro gamers and computer hobbyists. But, as we previously stated in our other reports, money can indeed be made of nostalgia, and the first 10,000 units already arrived at their pre-order destinations.