While Atari’s premium Linux microconsole, the Atari VCS, has been delayed about a year past its original launch window, it looks like the system and its online platform are getting ready for prime time. Atari has announced that the VCS will support “most games and apps” made with Unity as well as those developed for 64-bit Linux. Games sold on the Atari VCS store will receive either 88% or 80% in royalties, depending on whether they are exclusive or non-exclusive titles.
Since the Atari VCS itself runs on Linux and the Unity engine has supported Linux for quite a while, the revenue splits on the VCS storefront stand out as the biggest announcement in Atari’s new update for developers. The royalty split for exclusive VCS titles matches that of the Epic Games Store for titles developed on Unreal or Unity.
Given Steam’s 70/30 split that only starts to improve once a game crosses $10 million in sales, more generous revenue splits are one way for competing platforms to attempt to gain a foothold in digital distribution. Discord gives a 90/10 split to games sold through developers’ servers.
First announced in 2017 and initially targeted for a spring 2019 release to Indiegogo backers, the Atari VCS is an all-in-one gaming and streaming Linux box that promises support for 4K, 60 FPS, and HDR capabilities while also coming pre-loaded with a selection of classic Atari titles. It’s powered by a new AMD Ryzen processor, and doesn’t come in cheap: the base model costs $249.99 USD, and does not ship with either the VCS joystick ($49.99) or the gamepad ($59.99).
Earlier this year, a report from U.K. newspaper The Register revealed that Rob Wyatt, the system architect behind the VCS, had left the project and accused Atari of not paying him or his team for months of work on the console. In an interview with USgamer, Atari’s CEO Frederic Chesnais declined to comment on the company’s relationship with Wyatt, but said that his exit did not change Atari’s delivery schedule. A week ago, Atari published a look inside the factories where the VCS will be manufactured, promising that “everything is going together beautifully and [the company’s] outputting actual working Atari VCS pre-production units.”