The team behind the retro-inspired and Linux-powered gaming box, the Atari VCS, have put out an "Early Summer Update" of what's going on with the project.
It goes over a bunch of details they've already talked about, including how it was shown off a little at E3 this year. They said it felt like "mission accomplished" after other members of the press and partners got to see a little more of it.
Interestingly, they say they've created (from scratch) an Atari 2600 emulator that comes baked into the entire system, giving you easy access to retro games. Apparently, you will be able to fire it up and play some classic games while other bigger games are loading, that sounds somewhat interesting I will admit, but not many games take long enough to load to make that worthwhile.
Atari are planning to add in more games and other 3rd-party console emulators available on the Atari VCS post-launch. So, they really are betting big on nostalgia here but that's nothing new, the whole thing is supposed to be a nostalgia trip right down to the design of the box and the "Classic Joystick" that hurts your hands like hell.
What I am more surprised by, is how they really do seem firmly committed to keeping the device open, which is why they don't particularly like it being called a "console".
Part of this, is that they actually showed off the VCS Sandbox Mode, which allows you to run a different operating system on it during E3. Visitors got a look at Borderlands 2 on the VCS, using Ubuntu in full 1080p resolution. According to them, it ran "fantastically" but Ars weren't impressed by the performance. They also showed Rocket League, Broforce and more running on Ubuntu.
Basically, the Atari VCS is a small traditional computer that comes with their own UI pre-loaded that's built on top of Linux and an Atari 2600 emulator, with nothing stopping you loading your own operating system on it. Sounds very much like what Valve's whole Steam Machine idea could have been, if they had done the hardware in-house and made it less confusing.
Will the Atari VCS do well? Possibly. A nice little unit for those who don't have a lot of space, those that like to tinker, those that appreciate retro games and later perhaps some game streaming. There's a lot of possible opportunities for it, as long as they don't screw it up. I'm keen to see more from it, so I will take a look once it's properly out unless (hello Atari) they send a unit over.
As a little joke (sorry Atari), this is how Thunderbird decided to show their email to me—ouch.