The Atari VCS is going on sale later this month

Atari VCS
(Image credit: Atari)

The Ataribox was revealed to the world in June 2017 as a new console "based on PC technology" that had already been in development for years at that point. Despite that, it didn't take long for things to go off the rails: A planned Indiegogo campaign was paused at the last minute (although it eventually happened and was extremely successful, pulling in more than $3.6 million), there was a diversion into cryptocurrency for some reason, and then it re-emerged in 2019 as the Atari VCS, a Ryzen-powered box capable of running Windows, although it's based on Linux out of the box.

Despite a rough ride that included an ugly interview with The Register and the resignation of system architect Rob Wyatt, who claimed in October 2019 that he hadn't been paid in more than six months, units finally started shipping to Indiegogo backers in October 2020. Later this month it will achieve an even bigger milestone, as Atari announced that it will go on sale through regular retail channels on June 15.

"The Atari VCS has been well-received by our early adopter community, and we are thrilled that more people will have the opportunity to enjoy everything that the platform has to offer today, and as we roll out more and more new content and features in the future," Atari VCS chief operating officer Michael Arzt said.

The console will have access to "over a dozen" games at launch including Boulder Dash Deluxe, Danger Scavenger, Guntech, Jetboard Joust, Sir Lovelot, Something Ate My Alien, Tailgunner, and Missile Command: Recharged, which doesn't hit me as an overly impressive selection for a $300 game console. Nostalgia is no doubt a big hook for older gamers though, and all units will come with the Atari VCS Vault, a bundle of more than 100 Atari 2600 games, all of them optimized for use with the new (and optional) Wireless Classic Joystick. 

Atari is "actively courting multiple game publishers and indie developers," it added, and expects to have more new and updated games released for the VCS in the coming months.

Hardware heads may also find the new VCS intriguing. We can't judge its capabilities unless and until we get our hands on one, but Atari said it supports 4K, HDR and "60fps content," with expandable storage options, dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, and USB 3.0. 

"For advanced users and PC hobbyists who enjoy the ultimate in configurability and customization, an optional PC Mode allows for the installation of Windows or Linux as an alternative operating system, transforming the Atari VCS into a flexible, fully featured and powerful mini-PC," Atari said.

Atari VCS base units will go for $300 each, while "All-In" bundles including a joystick and controller (which go for $60 each separately) can be had for $400. They'll be available for purchase from Best Buy, GameStop, Micro Center, and directly from Atari.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.