The Atari VCS Crowdfunding Controversy

Like most gamers I have a great deal of fondness for Atari, the former American technology company which pretty much made arcade and home gaming part of the popular culture. Despite being eclipsed by its later rivals, the iconic name and logo continues to have a fair degree of brand recognition, variants of which have been traded among a number of corporations and investment firms since the original business was split into separate entities back in the late 1980s. The current owner of the title and much of its intellectual property is a French holding company, which has launched a project on the crowd-funding website, Indiegogo, to manufacture a computer console called the Atari VCS (previously, the Ataribox). The move has generated a great deal of cynicism and criticism from game-players and the gaming press. None of which has been helped by a recent disastrous interview between the British tech-journalist Kieren McCarthy and Michael Arzt, the COO of the subsidiary producing the machine, after the former was shown a plastic mock-up of the device and its controller. From the article in The Register:

[On the proposed real controller] What happens if we plug this into our laptop, we ask Mike. I don’t know, he says. Will it work? I don’t know. If we plug it into a different games machine, will it work? No. So it’s custom hardware and software? I don’t know about that.

[On the proposed real console] Launch date? Can’t say. Interface? Can’t tell you. Hardware manufacturer? Can’t tell you. Games developer partners? We’re talking to people. Target market? We can’t say.

A small PR faux pas has been made considerably worse by Atari’s decision to dismiss the reporter as an irresponsible troll. Which brings us to this feature by the YouTube tech-commentator ReviewTechUSA, discussing the saga with Kieren McCarthy himself.

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