Atari revealed today that the company Wonder is building the operating system that will power its upcoming Atari VCS machine. Their WonderOS is an Android-based hybrid mobile gaming and entertainment platform.
The VCS doesn’t get much coverage in gaming media, so I’m going to have to explain in full what the product is: it’s an attempted revival of the Atari Video Computer System by the company that owns the brand today (no one involved with the original is involved with this). The new Atari VCS was announced in 2017, crowdfunded via Indiegogo in 2018, and has suffered delay after delay since then.
So is it a retro console that plays 2600 stuff, or is Atari brave enough to attempt muscling in on Playstation and XBox territory (or, at the least, Stadia)? It’s….kinda both. The new VCS will come preloaded with a lot of vintage ROMs, but it will also boast the specs of a modern gaming PC with 4 or 8GB of RAM (depending on the model), 4K resolution and support for HDR. Total cost: $249.99. For that price it better deliver the games, right?
Unfortunately — and troublingly — it’s still a question mark as to WHAT kind of modern games will be appearing here. But the partnership with Wonder provides a big hint. Wonder’s primary business is mobile. Atari is also speaking of making the VCS lineup accessible from mobile devices. That could mean the VCS’s lineup would be mainly ports of mobile games but….hopefully not?
“Atari has strong mobile gaming business and deep experience as a publisher,” said Atari CEO Frédéric Chesnais. “Incorporating Wonder’s exciting technology will accelerate mobile integration within the Atari VCS platform, while better positioning Atari to capitalize on the promise offered by 5G digital cellular networks.”
The press release that reveals the Wonder partnership does not mention a release date for the VCS. The last one Atari openly promised was March 2020, and that doesn’t seem likely now. If it ever does appear, it will be carried by Gamestop, Wal-Mart, and through the Atari website.