The Atari VCS offers 'something different' over PS5 and Xbox Series X – here's why

Atari VCS
(Image credit: Atari)

The Atari VCS is an interesting proposition for gamers and, according to Atari VCS COO Michael Artz, it could find a niche which might have been overlooked. 

While the upcoming console certainly won’t get the sort of fanfare that the PS5 and Xbox Series X have garnered – nor the unprecedented levels of demand – Arzt believes that the "Atari VCS provides consumers who may be weary of the iterative nature of the console wars something different to consider."

The Atari VCS' versatility as a mini-PC could also be one of its main strengths, along with the fact the hybrid console will be the best place to play all of Atari’s back catalog of classic games.

In an interview with T3, Artz explained why the Atari VCS should be on your radar, and how it’s more than capable of becoming the focal point of your entertainment center. 

"First and foremost the Atari VCS was designed for the living room, merging the benefits of a console, a streaming box, and a multimedia PC," Arzt said. "The PC functionality, the all-in-one nature of the device, and the broad accessibility of streaming services means it can carry the lion’s share of gaming and streaming activity in any living room. Plus, that doesn’t preclude people using the Atari VCS as a dedicated mini-PC.”

With thousands of people working from home, the Atari VCS’ PC functionalities are probably more appealing than ever before, and they’ve resonated well with potential buyers – something which Artz is only too aware of. 

"Users can tap into a wide variety of traditional PC functionalities, from office work, to email, to online shopping to PC gaming and much more,” Arzt said. “There has been a lot of interest in the VCS as a PC, in part because it provides so much incremental value compared to other mini-PCs in our price range."

Nostalgia grab

The Atari VCS came about thanks to crowdfunding, as the project was successfully backed on Indiegogo in 2018. It smashed its initial $100,000 target and brought in $3 million worth of backers in total. Pre-orders have “been strong”, according to Artz, and he hopes that when units eventually arrive with backers, it will only “increase interest and drive additional pre-order volume.”

The hybrid console might be good value when compared to a dedicated mini-PC, but it isn’t cheap by any means. It’s set to cost $389.99 (about £285 / AU$504), but comes with a controller and joystick bundled in. That’s nearly $100 more expensive than an Xbox Series S (which retails for $299 / £249 / $AU499), but while the Series S focuses purely on gaming and streaming, the VCS is a lot more versatile. 

The Atari VCS will start shipping this spring, and is available to pre-order directly from Atari, Walmart and GameStop. There’s still no word on an international release, but Artz hinted it could arrive in other regions later this year, if distributors show enough interest. 

Adam Vjestica

Adam was formerly TRG's Hardware Editor. A law graduate with an exceptional track record in content creation and online engagement, Adam has penned scintillating copy for various technology sites and also established his very own award-nominated video games website. He’s previously worked at Nintendo of Europe as a Content Marketing Editor and once played Halo 5: Guardians for over 51 hours for charity. He is now an editor at The Shortcut.