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New Report Paints Fuzzy Picture for the Future of Atari’s Throwback Box, Though Atari Disagrees

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Atari’s retro console, the Atari VCS, has a lingering question mark in the throwback console race. After being announced in 2017, the VCS hasn’t seen much daylight, and now former contractors are levying claims against Atari for unpaid wages, amid reports painting a grim picture for the Ataribox. Atari, however, says that development is proceeding according to schedule.

U.K. newspaper The Register published a report this morning, saying the architect of the VCS project Rob Wyatt had officially resigned. According to a statement given to The Register by Wyatt, his design consultancy Tin Giant hadn’t been paid for invoices by Atari for over six months.

In a statement to USgamer, Atari says the VCS is “proceeding according to its previously announced schedule,” sharing a Medium update posted yesterday which details the engineering inside the VCS itself.

“It is Atari’s policy not to comment on an isolated matter under dispute, only to say that the Atari VCS project has always been a team effort and its success has never been and will never be dependent on any single individual or partner.

“We remain confident in the Atari VCS as the entire team works diligently to bring forth its vision according to plan, and we will continue to communicate accordingly over the coming weeks and months, including hands-on presentations to key media and partners planned for later this fall.”

The so-called “Ataribox” is set to be more than a throwback console, packing more power, streaming capability, and could cost a reported $250 to $300.

“With the Ataribox, we wanted to create an open system, a killer product where people can game, stream and browse with as much freedom as possible,” Atari CEO Fred Chesnais said at the time.

However, recent spats with The Register have left lingering questions about how far along the Atari VCS really is. After Atari compared The Register’s critical claims of the console to an “irresponsible troll,” the newspaper published the full audio of the interview, backing up its reporters’ words.

In response to The Register’s recent reports, including that there will be no native apps, original games, and the VCS is unlikely to hit its March 2020 deadline, Atari sent the paper the following comment:

“Atari wishes to inform you that some of your questions indicate that you possess information that is incorrect and/or outdated. In addition, some aspects of the Atari VCS project clearly have been leaked to you in violation of existing confidentiality agreements, and Atari therefore hereby reserves its rights in that respect.”

Whether incorrect or in breach of confidentiality, things seem rocky for the throwback console. In its Medium post, Atari says its planning hands-on preview events with the retro box “later in the fall” for press, so we’ll see how the box actually performs once we manage to get our hands on one.

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