Thursday, December 20, 2018

From The Archives - Ataribox Ramble Script... Or Some Of It.

Note: The following is a partial write-up for a DTM Rambles that I was going to do on the Ataribox campaign. For some reason, that video never came to be and everything has been quiet on the Ataribox front, so I figure... "Fuck it. Just put what I have up here and be done with it."

Maybe if something comes of this Ataribox project that's worth talking about, I might revisit it. For now, I offer a sample of what could've been... or never was... or something.

They said that Ataribox was going to be another Ouya. They said there was no chance of Ataribox succeeding. Well, they were only proven half-wrong. Ataribox didn't even make Ouya numbers... and as for the other half, that remains to be seen.

This past June, Ataribox (or Atari VCS, as it's called now I suppose) launched its much-hyped Indiegogo campaign and scored a cool $2 million on its first day. And with the sudden explosion of interested marks deciding to invest in a product that doesn't even have a working prototype but lots of nostalgic value, I figured it would be a matter of time before this thing reached Ouya numbers. And to be honest, I was waiting for the day that Ataribox would break the three million mark where I would then come up with a little joke video suggesting some stretch goals upon reaching further millions of dollars, such as new paddle controllers and perhaps even a remake of E.T. that was more comprehensible... but in the four weeks that the campaign was active, they only acheived $2.9 million something and it only took a couple weeks later for the number to eventually inch its way towards $3 million, which it was able to reach last Tuesday.

The fact that this campaign got a huge start on its first day didn't surprise me. Even though there have been interviews and press releases that didn't really do a good job of selling Ataribox to the masses, the fact that this was an Atari-branded device was more than enough of a push for some people to take the plunge for better or worse. And let's be honest here; the only reason this thing got any press is because it's got that Atari branding and it has a casing that harkens back to a console that many people have some nostalgia for. And if it didn't have those things, no one would've cared. It would've been another product that we've seen dozens of times before travelling the road that's been traveled by those who have tried, fizzled, and faded away.

But I was surprised by how poorly it did, because I expected this to do better especially after that strong first day start. This thing made close to three million dollars, with only a nostalgic brand that has and vague promises of connecting the present with the past or some other hyperbole. In comparison, the Ouya, a relatively new system several years who were selling units for almost a hundred bucks a pop and no name recognition, scored close to eight point five million. So my standards, I guess, were way too high. I expected Ataribox to do better than they did and they proved me wrong by not even coming close to reaching those numbers

For the record, I didn't back this Ataribox thing. Nothing I heard about this thing - whether it was preliminary information given last year or early this year or even the mockup videos where they showcased games that may or may not have been played on said Ataribox - nothing I've seen, heard, or read had enticed me to fork over money for what was and is presently vaporware... because there is no hardware for them to show off. Nothing to show me what this system was capable of because it hasn't been built; only vague promises of a new Linux-based computer system where you can play old Atari games along with some more modern indy titles that I could already play on my perfectly functional PC, along with a bunch of other features that they promised could be done on this system that I can also presently do on a bunch of devices I currently own at this very moment.

Nothing truly remarkable or even interesting that makes it worth a damn... just as an aside, the last "current" console that I bought was a Wii back in 2008 and since then, the only other current system that seems interesting and worth picking up is the Switch. So if I wasn't sold on the more heavy-duty Xbox One and PS4 video game systems and am more than happy to relegate my modern gaming fix on my Windows-based computer, an Atari-branded lower-to-mid-level Steam Machine like device (with seemingly no physical media to be found anywhere) is going to be an even harder sell for me.

Regardless, Atari SA has its money, and so they should be able to produce the systems and ship them out to stores by next year... assuming it happens. Just because the campaign was a success doesn't mean it's a sure thing. Atari needs to build a product, it needs to ship said product, and then even after shipping product over to the people who invested in this campaign, they still have to try and convince people to pick this up through a store or online or whatever the case may be, so that they can sell more of these things and get the ball rolling, as it were. And even if Atari does deliver a product, there's no guarantee that it's going to be exactly what was pitched the first time around.

Now, some of you are probably thinking, "They've got a whole year." Well, a lot can happen in a year.

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