Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 28th Sep 2017 10:16 UTC
Games

Ars Technica:

The spec sheet, as announced, is still pretty vague, but Atari has confirmed a few notable things, starting with a price point between $250 and $300. In exchange for costing roughly as much as a Nintendo Switch, Xbox One S, or PlayStation 4, the Ataribox will come packed with an "AMD customized processor with Radeon graphics technology." Additionally, this will not be an Android system. Instead, the Ataribox will run Linux "with a customized, easy-to-use user interface."

Open, hackable Linux-based consoles don't exactly have a great track record, so colour me skeptical.

Wouldn't be the first time my skepticism turns out to be spot-on. I don't think the Ataribox is the next Commodore USA, but I'm afraid its fate will be the same, regardless.

Order by: Score:
Too small a market
by Sauron on Thu 28th Sep 2017 11:09 UTC
Sauron
Member since:
2005-08-02

Open, hackable Linux-based consoles don't exactly have a great track record, so colour me skeptical.

Wouldn't be the first time my skepticism turns out to be spot-on. I don't think the Ataribox is the next Commodore USA, but I'm afraid its fate will be the same, regardless.


The problem being, most folk interested in this sort of thing either have the real hardware or emulate it on their x86/x64 PC, there's no need to purchase a dedicated box! I still have my Atari's (600XL & 800XL and boatloads of hardware peripherals), but I also use software emulators in Windows and Linux, heck, I even use a Atari 8 bit emulator on my Amiga sometimes. ;)
Apart from it looking nice and genuine and fitting nicely beside the TV it's just a expensive spare part to most folk.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Too small a market
by leech on Thu 28th Sep 2017 17:30 UTC in reply to "Too small a market"
leech Member since:
2006-01-10

While yes I have a beefy tower that can emulate everything, and this would be about the same thing, but this thing looks pretty damn small, so it'd be like a Steam Link that has similar power to a PS4 (maybe?) Actually running a hackable Linux vs a locked down system like every console currently out there is a bonus though.

My argument for such things (even the Steam Machines) is that it is genuinely difficult to build your own system that is small, silent and powerful enough to fit in the HTPC space. That's why consoles now fit that role. It's why HTPCs never really successfully became a commercial thing.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Too small a market
by Odwalla on Fri 29th Sep 2017 11:19 UTC in reply to "RE: Too small a market"
Odwalla Member since:
2006-02-01

The size of the enclosure was never the defining problem with HTPCs.

HTPCs didn't become a commercial product because for TV recording they weren't any better than a TiVO or a Replay or even a cable company's provided set top box. Arguably they were worse, requiring extra work to set up (CableCard) and with extremely finicky software. Then the world quickly moved to streaming and any remaining possible advantages to HTPCs were negated by the low cost and ease of setup, and sheer simplicity of Rokus, Fire Sticks, Apple TVs, etc...

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Too small a market
by leech on Sat 30th Sep 2017 00:11 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Too small a market"
leech Member since:
2006-01-10

That's no where near what an HTPC is... That's a DVR. There is definitely a difference. While HTPCs do perform DVR tasks, they also do much more. An HTPC is literally meant to be a PC that fits in with your home theater equipment. Which does mean Size/Style/Noise.

While I've built DVR systems previous to TiVo being a thing (MythTV), they also could play games (MythTV has a built in emulator plugin to work within the interface).

Otherwise they wouldn't need all that power. Granted now even on demand recording is being phased out when people can just stream on demand.

Reply Score: 0

RE: Too small a market
by Mx9001 on Thu 28th Sep 2017 17:31 UTC in reply to "Too small a market"
Mx9001 Member since:
2016-12-12

Doesn't matter if it fails, it's still a good idea, and you can get some interesting toys to play with.

What's a developer license cost?

Interesting, they're going to have to rewrite to support high def graphics / screen resolutions of modern TV's. So, this can't be an emulator of the 6502 chip and HAL.

Would be nice to support this effort.
Build a Linux/Game tutorial on the platform...

Reply Score: 0

Meh
by emphyrio on Thu 28th Sep 2017 11:15 UTC
emphyrio
Member since:
2007-09-11

One needs only to see the steam page of RollerCoaster Tycoon World for about 5 to 10 seconds to turn (from a sceptic) into a firm believer of failure.

Edited 2017-09-28 11:16 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Competition
by Adurbe on Thu 28th Sep 2017 12:28 UTC
Adurbe
Member since:
2005-07-06

This is trying to compete in the same space as XBox and PlayStation. The nostalgia of the old form factor and brand can only take it so far.

There is scope to have nostalgic brands like AvP or Pitfall remade as T1 games as exclusive launch titles. Pitfall 2017 could easily be a Lara croft style game.

If they really want to resurrect the system in this price bracket they need T1 game developer exclusives. Without that, it's a poor PC that can play games we can already.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Competition
by ahferroin7 on Fri 29th Sep 2017 12:29 UTC in reply to "Competition "
ahferroin7 Member since:
2015-10-30

I would argue that it's not exactly the same space. If anything, I'd say it's more of a competitor for the Switch given the price point and the fact that most older games aren't nearly as violent or graphic as many modern ones, but even that is a bit of a stretch given the different development ecosystem the open platform is liable to encourage.

There's also something to be said for tight integration without need for manual setup. Most people don't want to deal with getting an emulator set up properly, but are perfectly fine if the setup is done for them.

Based on that, an even better comparison would be a Steam Box, which mostly died because a large majority of the big-name games people play on Steam other than Valve titles weren't supported (mostly because developers are lazy and don't get that using OpenGL instead of Direct3D will get you cross platform graphics support with near zero effort), but that problem isn't exactly an issue with the AtariBox.

Reply Score: 0

RE[2]: Competition
by leech on Sat 30th Sep 2017 00:15 UTC in reply to "RE: Competition "
leech Member since:
2006-01-10

The Steam Box didn't really fail... since it really wasn't marketed. I mean if they'd spent a ton of money on marketing it so that people knew what one was...

It was kind of more like 'hey buddy, I got this cool thing to show you.'

Actually if they'd done a campaign like Ataribox, it probably would have sold like hell! In it's various flavors, though especially if Valve had put their name on it.

Reply Score: 0

RE[2]: Competition
by Adurbe on Mon 2nd Oct 2017 12:41 UTC in reply to "RE: Competition "
Adurbe Member since:
2005-07-06

The switch is a portable/handheld console. So that comparison just doesn't work.

Yes, it's a steam box.. they died as a concept mainly because most of the steam games catalogue simply didn't work well with its controller setup, but also because they didn't offer anything above a PC running Windows. There was no compelling "GAME X, ONLY ON SteamBox".

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Competition
by zima on Mon 2nd Oct 2017 17:14 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Competition "
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

but also because they didn't offer anything above a PC running Windows. There was no compelling "GAME X, ONLY ON SteamBox".

Half-life 3 would have worked ...alas, we'll probably never see it.

Reply Score: 2

nice design
by viton on Thu 28th Sep 2017 12:31 UTC
viton
Member since:
2005-08-09

DOA, but the design is nice. If it is based on new Raven Ridge APU, I’ll probably buy it to use as PC.

Reply Score: 3

Comment by The123king
by The123king on Thu 28th Sep 2017 13:07 UTC
The123king
Member since:
2009-05-28

Nice idea, but i fear it'll be poorly executed. This will be another console designed for emulators, with no real PC/console games released for it. They should have got some decent publishers, and maybe went with releasing all new atari games on it, to try and establish it as a serious player in the console market.

Reply Score: 3

there could be a market....
by feamatar on Thu 28th Sep 2017 14:15 UTC
feamatar
Member since:
2014-02-25

I think there is no need to scepticism here. It is natural that these projects fail 9 out of 10 time.

However:
I love the old computer form factors and that I would pay 150$, maybe would go as far as 200-250$ for an ARM computer with an Atari ST case and built in MIDI. Or an Atari 800 or an Apple II case would be lovely. The C64 case was nice, but 600$ was just too much for a new toy ;)

The other thing that I often complain about that all the minicomputers look ugly as hell. At least this Atari one is stylish.

And third, please someone make a minicomputer with a programmable led display on the front.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by ilovebeer
by ilovebeer on Thu 28th Sep 2017 14:55 UTC
ilovebeer
Member since:
2011-08-08

I'm nostalgic for the Atari 2600. It was my first gaming system and I still remember the night I got to unpack it. I played Adventure all night long and was on cloud 9 the whole time. BUT, the problem with nostalgia items like this (for seemingly most people) is they're fun to revisit for all of about 20 minutes. After that they sit collecting dust for the next X years until another 20 minutes of `good old days` comes around. So, while the thing looks cool, in reality it's just going to live 99.8% of its life powered off as a $250-$300 geek decoration.

If the best thing you can say about it is, 'Ataribox will come packed with an "AMD customized processor with Radeon graphics technology."', and that it runs Linux, don't expect it to be more than a flash in the pan. There's a reason it's being crowdfunded.

Finally, let's be clear -- the Atari 2600 was no NES or SNES. Atari is kidding themselves if they're expecting Nintendo Mini type of popularity & reception.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Comment by ilovebeer
by leech on Thu 28th Sep 2017 23:18 UTC in reply to "Comment by ilovebeer"
leech Member since:
2006-01-10

I kind of disagree, those Atari flashback devices of the 2600 sell quite well. Enough so that they keep releasing new ones.

Honestly, I never had a big 'Oh my god! Nintendo!' There was a point in time when Video Games WERE Atari. "Where's Bobby, isn't he coming to hang out?" "He's home playing Atari."

Reply Score: 0

RE[2]: Comment by ilovebeer
by ilovebeer on Fri 29th Sep 2017 04:45 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by ilovebeer"
ilovebeer Member since:
2011-08-08

They're also nowhere near $250-$300. If they were, they would've been DOA. I'm not sure what you consider selling well but those Flashbacks are a cheap (and cheaply produced) novelty item with the most popular one selling 800k and some change.

There's no question that at one time Atari was on top. But, Nintendo took it to the next level. They had a much bigger impact on home gaming, had/has wildly popular game franchises/IP, sold far more units total, etc. You could buy the wildly popular NES & SNES Classic's and still be around half the cost of an Ataribox.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Comment by ilovebeer
by leech on Sat 30th Sep 2017 00:18 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by ilovebeer"
leech Member since:
2006-01-10

You and all the other Nintendo fans smoke crack. Atari pretty much invented the home video game market.

They made some TERRIBLE decisions, one of which was to not sell the NES when Nintendo asked them to be the distributors. Instead they stated they were going to make the 7800, which was released 2 years later than it was supposed to be. If it wasn't for this, the landscape probably would be significantly different these days.

Though to be fair, there was also E.T....

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Comment by ilovebeer
by ilovebeer on Sat 30th Sep 2017 07:17 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by ilovebeer"
ilovebeer Member since:
2011-08-08

Atari had a huge hit with the 2600. Coleco was on their heels with a better system, better games, and the benefit of good arcade ports. Atari's answer, the 5200, didn't measure up. Coleco in it's first year sold 2 million units. The 5200 only sold half that in twice the time. In addition, Intellivision also stomped on Atari, doing even better than Coleco. This happened *before* the NES and the 7800.

Fantasizing about an alternate history doesn't change the reality of the real one. In this case being the first to break into a market on a large scale doesn't mean you were the best. It means you were the first. Acknowledging that fact doesn't mean you're a fan, it means you're aware of the truth. I lived through this era, I owned all of these systems, and remember exactly what it was like.

Reply Score: 3

Publishers!
by tonyyeb on Thu 28th Sep 2017 15:08 UTC
tonyyeb
Member since:
2007-12-02

The problem with open systems is that publishers (and developers to a certain extent) don't trust that their games won't be easily copied. Even if the case is that this practice wouldn't be prevalent, the fear of it will stop many from trying in my opinion.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Publishers!
by tidux on Thu 28th Sep 2017 19:09 UTC in reply to "Publishers!"
tidux Member since:
2011-08-13

Selling someone a bag of bytes they're not supposed to copy was always a doomed proposition in the long term. Physical access trumps DRM.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Publishers!
by zima on Sat 30th Sep 2017 20:25 UTC in reply to "RE: Publishers!"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

drm of latest systems seems to work fine...

Reply Score: 3

Emulation needs to be cheaper
by mbpark on Thu 28th Sep 2017 19:03 UTC
mbpark
Member since:
2005-11-17

The biggest issue that this console has is that I can buy an Atari Flashback for less than $50 and a number of people have ported classic Atari games to other platforms, such as Android or iOS, for a lot less. That $50 gets me joysticks too.

Why spend $250 when I can get the 30 games I want for $50 or less?

If I spend $250 it also gets me a used PS4 or Xbox One, which also gets me more games to play.

Nintendo got it right with the price. Any more than that and you're not going to sell well.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Emulation needs to be cheaper
by leech on Thu 28th Sep 2017 23:20 UTC in reply to "Emulation needs to be cheaper"
leech Member since:
2006-01-10

The biggest issue that this console has is that I can buy an Atari Flashback for less than $50 and a number of people have ported classic Atari games to other platforms, such as Android or iOS, for a lot less. That $50 gets me joysticks too.

Why spend $250 when I can get the 30 games I want for $50 or less?

If I spend $250 it also gets me a used PS4 or Xbox One, which also gets me more games to play.

Nintendo got it right with the price. Any more than that and you're not going to sell well.


Probably because this will play newer computer games (well at least Linux ones(?)) and not just old 2600 titles.

Reply Score: 0

mbpark Member since:
2005-11-17

Exactly why I made my point about the $250 buying you a used PS4 or Xbox One. No one is going to buy Linux games when you have thousands of games from top publishers available.

Reply Score: 4

leech Member since:
2006-01-10

Exactly why I made my point about the $250 buying you a used PS4 or Xbox One. No one is going to buy Linux games when you have thousands of games from top publishers available.


Last I checked there were not thousands of games for PS4 and Xbox One combined.
PS4;

Exclusive = 113
Console exclusive = 413
Multiplatform = 997

Xbox One;

Exclusive = 32
Console exclusive = 145
Multiplatform = 1247

So by that.. Linux actually supports about 1000 more. While yes you can argue the difference in quality, a HUGE amount of the 'indie' games for the PS4 are also available for Linux.

Reply Score: 0

Linux? Ugh. Puh. Bleh. Bad choice.
by aliver on Thu 28th Sep 2017 21:11 UTC
aliver
Member since:
2011-03-19

Linux has proven to be a terrible choice for devices like this. Fatally so, in almost every case. As a retro gamer and collector I won't touch anything that smells like a hacked up x86 Linux board with custom firmware and a crappy emulator. Folks, emulators are free. It had better have an custom chipset or at least an FPGA. Otherwise, go back to the drawing board. Why do I care about a SNES/NES classic ? I still own the real one! Give me something new, different, interesting. A recycled Emustation / Lakka box is a HUGE turn off and a total fail in my personal book. Linux is soooo unsexy at this post-systemd point in time. It's proven to be a pretty nasty failure for gamers, to, ie.. "All hat and no cattle. "

Reply Score: 5

Kochise Member since:
2006-03-03

Personal choice, but you don't necessarily own all the official IPs with an emulator, what the Ataribox 'offers' you. Deals with the x86 based board with crappy firmware, let's wait and see.

But all together, Atari has proven to be a constant failure, rotten with management inadequatibility, with a few couples of very punctual exceptions that have indeed marked history (ST most notably).

Hence, given the past record of previous Atari leadership and current one, I wouldn't quite much trust this new fancy toy currently built out of thin air, with 3D cgi and dubious specs.

I may be wrong, but Amiga had more future (Gateway, Escom, ...) than Atari had (Jts, ...) and delivered much more up to date software than revamped old fashioned IPS for the X and/or Y generations.

Reply Score: 3

ahferroin7 Member since:
2015-10-30

Most people don't have the original systems, and emulation is non-trivial to do legally in most places in the world.

As far as gaming on Linux, it's largely poor execution by big companies combined with people worshiping DirectX as the holy grail of game development. For almost everything in my Steam library that runs on Linux, I'd rather play it on Linux, I get better performance on most titles, and significantly better input device behavior on all of them (regardless of what input device).

Use of Linux for this is also helping keep the price down. If you cut out the the cost of software development for the XB1 and adjust for a reasonable percentage of cost from branding, you get about the same price as Atari is looking at. Similar, but not quite as striking for the PS4 (they use a heavily customized FreeBSD base, and obviously didn't put much thought into certain aspects).

Reply Score: 0

bassbeast Member since:
2007-11-11

Except the odds are it won't be legal in the west so will be no different than any cheap Android box from China except for the price.

I mean do you think Sony is gonna license them the BIOS for the PS1? That whomever owns Commodore and Amiga is gonna license their properties? The only thing we know if that they have an Atari license but that frankly don't mean squat as even on the 2600 the biggest titles were made by Activision, Namco, and Nintendo and its EXTREMELY doubtful they would license their IPs at a price this company could possibly afford!

There is a reason why you don't see western companies selling emulation boxes, which with the number of no longer sold/supported systems and how cheaply you can get decent APUs these days would be a no brainer, its because its a legal minefield where the best properties are owned by multiple companies all of which want insane amounts of money for their IP. Just look at the flashback consoles like the Coleco Flashback where the majority of hit games for the system isn't included, why? Nintendo won't license their IP, nor will Parker Bros, and good luck finding out who even owns the IP for all those now defunct companies like Xonox and Imagic!

Reply Score: 2

ahferroin7 Member since:
2015-10-30

It really depends on which country though. In most of the US, it's not illegal to own ROM's as long as you have ownership rights to a copy of the game (usually by means of owning a physical copy of the game), but the hardware for creating them is illegal (which is funny, because it costs about 25 USD plus some basic soldering skills to make said hardware by hand for most cartridge systems, and even less for disc based systems), and it's illegal to transfer ownership to someone who does not have ownership rights.

Reply Score: 2

Kochise Member since:
2006-03-03

Patent system in the US is known to be rotten, so it's not a big deal anyway. Screw them or get screwed.

Reply Score: 2

Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Linux is soooo unsexy at this post-systemd point in time. It's proven to be a pretty nasty failure for gamers, to, ie.. "All hat and no cattle. "



How bizarre. Kernel .. sex drive .. init system ..failing ..gamers.. hat.. cattle.

Well, Frozen potato, New Zealand, RiscOS influenza to you too.

Reply Score: 4

Early days
by PJBonoVox on Fri 29th Sep 2017 00:27 UTC
PJBonoVox
Member since:
2006-08-14

There's not really enough information in the article to make an informed decision on whether it'll suck or not.

I'd certainly be interested to know how the Atari brand resonates (or not) with the 20-somethings who might have the cash to drop on this. For me at least, Atari has become synonymous with low-quality, almost 'budget' stuff so the brand really doesn't do anything for me. Their stellar work of the late 70s and early 80s feels like it's been wiped from memory.

It certainly has no chance of making a dent in the console market, and if that's their aim, it's very misguided and doomed to fail. Time will tell though.

Edited 2017-09-29 00:29 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE: Early days
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Fri 29th Sep 2017 16:04 UTC in reply to "Early days"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

t certainly has no chance of making a dent in the console market, and if that's their aim, it's very misguided and doomed to fail. Time will tell though.


I think the NES classic might have shown that there is a market for pre-packaged well built machines with simpler games from another era. There is a market for legacy consoles. I think there was a chance of success, if the price was a third of what it is...

But no, If it was supposed to be a rival to xbox/ps, then yeah its doomed doomed doomed.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Early days
by leech on Sat 30th Sep 2017 00:30 UTC in reply to "RE: Early days"
leech Member since:
2006-01-10

"t certainly has no chance of making a dent in the console market, and if that's their aim, it's very misguided and doomed to fail. Time will tell though.


I think the NES classic might have shown that there is a market for pre-packaged well built machines with simpler games from another era. There is a market for legacy consoles. I think there was a chance of success, if the price was a third of what it is...

But no, If it was supposed to be a rival to xbox/ps, then yeah its doomed doomed doomed.
"

I look at it this way, it being Linux based (they haven't directly said steam, but they said existing game library..and even if it doesn't come with Steam pre-installed, sounds like it'd be easy to do) it'll have a much larger library right out of the gate than the PS4/Xbox One combined. Now granted most people probably are wanting the billion Call of Duty games, but for what the Atari name goes for (old people and early game systems and computers) they probably really like the huge library of retro/indie games.

Think of how popular the pixel art 'retro' games have become? So this has a semi-decent chance of being successful IF (big if) that Feargal Mac dude doesn't try to scam everyone.

Reply Score: 0

If it true to label I will be interested.
by oiaohm on Fri 29th Sep 2017 05:51 UTC
oiaohm
Member since:
2009-05-30

Please note I am not interested as a PC or game console.

If true to label that it can be customised running kodi on with all the support possible is for sure interesting. Slim case ideal for under TV.

Really we have not seen very much hardware made for media centre role with gaming on the side. Big issue you run into with Playstations, Xboxs and other dlna media players is codecs and lack of ability to update to get more or fix bugs in existing.

Reply Score: 0

leech Member since:
2006-01-10

Dude, you seem to be one of the few who 'get it'.

Reply Score: 0

Same fate as commodore USA
by robertojdohnert on Fri 29th Sep 2017 21:30 UTC
robertojdohnert
Member since:
2005-07-12

Unless the owner develops cancer and dies I don't think it will suffer the same fate as commodore USA

Reply Score: 2

They need to go appliance way.
by przemo_li on Mon 2nd Oct 2017 12:29 UTC
przemo_li
Member since:
2010-06-01

They could possibly do it if they plan on ataribox to be another fully fledget console.

They could and should reuse some good APIs, allow some low level C/C++ programming, and maybe stick to thin abstractions over what Linux provide (though, sound and windowing are areas where some good gaming oriented APIs would help).

Separate branding. Separate games. Some solution for VR (that can be shared with other platforms).


That would put Ataribox as standalone solution, and not as Windows competitor... Since Atari would have strict control over game quality it would also spare us poor quality halfhearted ports (looking at you Witcher 2!!)

If Ataribox is succesfull, they could upstream what they whish.

Reply Score: 2

open and hackable = what?
by Darkmage on Tue 3rd Oct 2017 19:37 UTC
Darkmage
Member since:
2006-10-20

What makes anyone think that this is going to be open and hackable just because it has Linux under the hood? More likely this'll be like a SMART TV where the Linux is hidden, buried under layers of custom software and only acting as a kernel to manage hardware. I expect X11 to not be present and for the graphics layer to be completely custom think Android. The real problem Atari is going to face is going to be third party support. They must have something up their sleeve or this is just going to bomb like every other X86 based gaming console not from the big 3.

Reply Score: 2