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It seems the Atari VCS team are burning bridges before they're even built, as they accused the well respected tech news site The Register of professional trolling.

A user on Facebook sent Atari a link to this article by El Reg that basically savaged the Atari VCS. I'm surprised I missed that article, so I've done a little catching up this morning reading everything through.

Here's what Atari said in reply:

We honestly can't explain that article either. Our executives sat with that reporter for half an hour and he wrote what he wanted instead of what was discussed with him. Sadly there are even irresponsible trolls in "professional" positions i guess. We clearly said that we were bringing engineering design models to GDC and lots of people clearly don't understand what that means. Hunks of plastic? Well, yeah, that's how you finalize the designs and confirm that you can get the look and feel you want for the finished products. Sad.

The article author who wrote the original piece on El Reg himself replied, which was a little amusing:

 "He wrote what he wanted rather then what was discussed..." Oh dear. You must have forgotten that I recorded the interview. Will see if my editor is interested in a follow up given your accusations. 

And now we have a fresh article out, with the full interview and it shows up Michael Arzt from Atari pretty badly. He seems to dodge questions pretty poorly too, like the case of when they announced a date and then on that date they officially paused it giving no actual details as to why. The guy from El Reg rightyfully said, that usually when such a thing happens (which is incredibly rare) the company will say why they're doing so. Arzt then starts talking about NASA and just making no actual sense, some tiny game box is in no way anything like a rocket launch, that's just ridiculous.

Honestly, the whole interview is a bit of a farce, Arzt is repeatedly dodging questions and now they're trying to paint a respected tech site (one I personally read) as the bad guy…you couldn't make this up. Well, you could, but reality is far more entertaining in this case as the recordings show.

It's a shame, as I wanted it to be success considering it could have been an interesting Linux gaming device. I mean, it still could be, but that interview just shows how badly Atari have been handling it. 

Their IndieGoGo is doing well, with it hitting nearly $3 million in pre-orders. Considering it won't even ship until around Spring next year and they're still going through prototypes right now, there's no way I would back their crowdfunding, especially not after how they've made themselves out to be with stuff like this.

I still find it odd how their official website features three quotes from seemingly random nobody's, I thought they would have replaced those quotes by now with more real people, but given this interview perhaps they've found that a bit difficult…

We will possibly cover it next year, once it's actually out to see if it was worth all the fuss.

What are your thoughts?

10 Likes, Who?
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48 comments
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orochi_kyo 23 June 2018 at 5:46 pm UTC
liamdawe
LibertyPaulMTo be fair The Register are professional trolls, and click baity ones at that, but yes poor form from Atari.
I would disagree, their reporting is basically always exactly on the mark, they're just quite funny and sarcastic in how they write.
The line that separates funny/sarcastic and trolling is pretty thin. That doesnt justify Atari behavior.

Im agree with LibertyPaulM.
Narvarth 23 June 2018 at 6:30 pm UTC
abelthorneAll the marketing is (and will be) focusing on the nostalgia factor.

That's not really surprising that they try to push harder their own licences, but i disagree on this point. They mentionned that modern (linux) titles will run on the VCS. It's even written in the first paragraph of the pitch, mentionned in their recap ("at a glance",1st icon).
They clearly wrote in huge letters that it's "so much more" than nostalgia. Sounds pretty clear, tmo.

How many haters shouting "scam!" mentioned that the VCS already has hundreds (real, not android) games thanks to Linux?
Around Zero. People are just freaking out "Scam! Scam!".

Don't you think it's a little bit... oversized? We are talking about a mini PC running Linux for 200-250$ : less than a Intel NUC (300$) with a poor i3, no ram and no hard drive.


If you check the "controversial" interview on theregister, Arzt didn't answer to the following questions :

-launch date
-preorder
-hardware manufacturer
-Processor
-game partners
-interface

McCarthys conclusion : "it doesn't sound like Atari has the slightest idea what it's doing."

2 months later, Atari answered all these questions (except interface).

If we summarize the story so far :

-9 months ago, atari announced the "Atari box". People just laughed. "Play Asteroid in 4K !"
-6 months ago, Atari said the crowfunding campaign was delayed. People said : "ok, forget about it, it's dead. it was a vaporware". They were wrong...
-The campaign launched in june : all the haters said "it will be a big fail". They were wrong.
-Now people call it a scam, but it is not clear why. Poor communication and advertising?

abelthorneof this will likely be a flop

Well obviously, it's a niche market. I could bet that Atari will deliver this mini PC in 2019, but will only sell a couple of thousand VCS.
And then all the haters will finally claim victory "Aha, we were right, the VCS is a big fail".

abelthorneA real CPU/GPU? It's an AMD APU with an integrated GPU.

I know that But it's easy to check what kind of games can run (for ex here ).
It's more powerful than a docked switch. Is the switch a bad console?

I guess all the best indie titles will run flawlessly on the VCS (Hollow Knight, Broforce, Steam world dig 1&2...).

Again, is it such a bad deal for 200-250$?

wvstolzinghow people on a Linux website aren't rallying

liamdaweIt uses Linux, so [...] we simply must throw money at them...

Who said that? Not me.

Please read my post again. I just said : "Don't feed the troll".
These guys have no more informations (and sometimes less) than the indiegogo page.
Everyone should calm down and quietly wait spring 2019.

Btw, i already have a small Linux box in my living room (more expensive than the VCS), so i'm not interested in the VCS. But i just think this project does not deserve all this hate.


Last edited by Narvarth at 23 June 2018 at 6:32 pm UTC
emphy 23 June 2018 at 8:29 pm UTC
Narvarth...

Let's check the real facts : people backing it on indiegogo will get a mini-PC with hundreds (thousands ?) games already available and a cool design for this price. Can we really call this a scam ?

Please stop feeding all the youtube/click bait trolls.


It's really disappointing that we have to explain such evident facts on a Linux website...

If atari actually delivers the system, people backing this on indiegogo may get a mini-pc. You may want to check on the history of successfully delivered crowd funded Atari branded products to check how likely that is.

If the Atari brand wasn't raising red flags already, the use of indiegogo and the ludicrously low initial funding goal should.

Even if we assume good faith from the company (that's a huge assumption), they don't exactly inspire confidence that they are capable of actually delivering on the project.


Last edited by emphy at 23 June 2018 at 8:35 pm UTC
elmapul 24 June 2018 at 8:29 am UTC
hey
liamdawe
you must see this video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0qyUhb3VXI

atariVCS isnt the first crowdfunding from Atari, and they didnt delivered the others!
or delivered without the games and atari brand...

sorry for using quote to mark you, i dont know if there is any other way of doing that
Narvarth 24 June 2018 at 9:29 am UTC
emphyEven if we assume good faith from the company (that's a huge assumption)

Well, maybe you're right, and it's a case of blatant theft (what about the money collected on indiegogo ?). If it's true, we can say that the brand will be definitely dead in spring 2019...
mandersson 24 June 2018 at 11:27 am UTC
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Narvarth
emphyEven if we assume good faith from the company (that's a huge assumption)

Well, maybe you're right, and it's a case of blatant theft (what about the money collected on indiegogo ?). If it's true, we can say that the brand will be definitely dead in spring 2019...

Atari stated before the start of the indiegogo campaign that i would use crowd funding primary as a way for the community to influence the project,and as a bonus funds for the project without interest.This is the first crowd funding attempt from Atari.They have done what they have told during the campaign but nothing more.Maybe the expectations was to high?

Last year they signed quite a few deals for other companies to use the Atari brand.Their last financial report was the first in a long time to show profit so i doubt that they want to ruin the value of their intellectual property by doing something stupid.

I serious doubt that any company would dare to invest in a linux based console again if all they get is bad press and hate from the open source community...
tonR 24 June 2018 at 11:58 am UTC
thelimeydragonhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0qyUhb3VXI
elmapulhey
liamdawe
you must see this video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0qyUhb3VXI

atariVCS isnt the first crowdfunding from Atari, and they didnt delivered the others!
or delivered without the games and atari brand...

sorry for using quote to mark you, i dont know if there is any other way of doing that
Just watch it few moments ago. My nightmare will become reality. Well, at least in that video, StopDrop&Retro is neutral towards Linux. No bashing or badmouthing. Just pure facts, examples of scams and scammers in general and "wake-up call" to backers. And I'm thankful for that.

I have many doubts on Atari in first place. No need to say much after this.

Also, we as Linux gamers should be more careful after this. We are still a small community and with scammers are giving Linux gaming and FOSS in general a bad reputation, it is time for us to act against it. If not.......

Great investigation StopDrop&Retro!

EDIT: I'm accidently pressing "Post Comment" too early..


Last edited by tonR at 24 June 2018 at 12:03 pm UTC
abelthorne 24 June 2018 at 4:13 pm UTC
Narvarth
abelthorneAll the marketing is (and will be) focusing on the nostalgia factor.
That's not really surprising that they try to push harder their own licences, but i disagree on this point. They mentionned that modern (linux) titles will run on the VCS. It's even written in the first paragraph of the pitch, mentionned in their recap ("at a glance",1st icon).
They clearly wrote in huge letters that it's "so much more" than nostalgia. Sounds pretty clear, tmo.
The thing is that the biggest part of their Indiegogo page when it comes to games is a showcase of Atari 2600 games (or remakes). The fact that it can also run other games is kind of incidental. In their FAQ, to "Will my Steam games run on it?", they basically answer "Sure, why not, as long as they can run on the hardware". To me, it's pretty much the same argument as Valve saying that SteamOS is open and you can install non-Steam games on it: while it's technically true, you need to fiddle in desktop mode and there's nothing to help integration with Steam (and, of course, you don't get Steam features for them, like achievements, multiplayer through Steamworks...). I'm pretty sure this will be the same with the Atari VCS: if you can make your Linux games work, nothing will stop you to do it but don't expect to have a proper integration.

Quote
abelthorneA real CPU/GPU? It's an AMD APU with an integrated GPU.
I know that But it's easy to check what kind of games can run (for ex here ).
I would take this kind of videos with a pinch of salt: sure, some "big" games can run on this kind of hardware when you lower the settings but the tests are made on Windows, with games optimized (and probably some tweaks in the AMD drivers). Don't expect to get the same results with the Linux ports, which usually have far worse perfs.

QuoteIt's more powerful than a docked switch. Is the switch a bad console?
The Switch is a very good console with games that are made especially for its hardware and limitations. Atari is trying to do kind of the same thing by asking developers to make games for their console but they're not Nintendo, it's very doubtful that they can attract big publishers/developers.

If they're smart, they'll try to develop an indie marketplace (like Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo do) to get the well known games on their system but there's no sign they want to do this. Anyway, it's too soon to say, maybe that's something they'll focus on later. Let's just hope that their reputation doesn't get in the way.


Last edited by abelthorne at 24 June 2018 at 4:43 pm UTC
Purple Library Guy 24 June 2018 at 6:40 pm UTC
abelthorne
NarvarthIt's more powerful than a docked switch. Is the switch a bad console?
The Switch is a very good console with games that are made especially for its hardware and limitations. Atari is trying to do kind of the same thing by asking developers to make games for their console but they're not Nintendo, it's very doubtful that they can attract big publishers/developers.

If they're smart, they'll try to develop an indie marketplace (like Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo do) to get the well known games on their system but there's no sign they want to do this. Anyway, it's too soon to say, maybe that's something they'll focus on later. Let's just hope that their reputation doesn't get in the way.
I don't think they have the muscle to do that. At least, not unless and until their doohicky is successful without it. So, either there has to be a big market for it as mainly a thing to play old Atari games and such on, or it has to be beefy enough to play a goodly bunch of other games which are not optimized for it specifically.

Mind you, Linux enthusiasts probably have a higher bar for success on this thing than anyone else, higher than the Atari(ish) people themselves. They may be able to make a profit on the thing if it has modest success in a niche market; that may well be what a win looks like to them. We want it to be basically the Steam Machine that never was, and are disappointed that it doesn't look capable of being that. We're all the more bitter given that prospects for increased Linux market share, both desktop and more directly as a gaming platform, seem to have been evaporating lately. I don't see this thing doing more than making Atari(ish) a modest profit and adding maybe 0.05% market share to games on Linux. But y'know, that's better than nothing. Scraps add up.

Drifting off topic, I do think there are prospects for the Linux (gameplaying) desktop quietly ticking along from another direction: ChromeOS. It appears that they're making a serious push for Chromebooks to run normal Linux apps. Google seems to be quietly trying to push Chromebooks gradually up the ladder from their niche in really-wimpy-laptops. They've been very successful in that niche, Chromebooks have done nothing but grow, and methinks they feel they've now got enough recognition, enough positive buzz and familiarity, that they can now start expanding from that base. Inevitably, in the process ChromeOS will converge somewhat with the rest of Linux, drifting away from the whole "browser is everything" vision. Further, if they can run Linux apps in general, presumably they can, and Google will want them to, run Linux games. I think ChromeOS is gradually going to turn into a real competitor for Windows and MacOS, and if it has even medium success Linux gaming could see big boosts over the next few years.
Edited to add: Note publicity such as this.


Last edited by Purple Library Guy at 24 June 2018 at 6:52 pm UTC. Edited 3 times.
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