News & Opinion | October 19, 2020 1:10 pm

Atari’s New Console Targets Crypto Enthusiasts

The Atari VCS ships next month

Atari VCS
Atari's new VCS console.
Atari

For gamers of a certain age, the name Atari is liable to bring back memories of heavily pixelated video games played with a simple joystick or trackball. Think Missile Command, think Pac-Man, think Joust. And while other gaming consoles have surpassed Atari’s various offerings in the years and decades since its heyday, the brand and its aesthetic never really went away.

For much of the current century, Atari has produced the Flashback, a portable console that allows gamers to play a host of games from the console’s heyday. Now they’ve announced the VCS, a console which blends old and new in a number of interesting ways.

First and foremost, keen-eyed viewers may note that it comes with two controllers — one old-school joystick to fuel Generation X nostalgia and one modern controller that echoes the configuration of most contemporary games. But there’s also a new wrinkle that might boggle the mind of many an Asteroid player: this console’s cryptocurrency-compatible.

An article by Olga Kharif at Bloomberg takes a deeper look at this new system. “On Oct. 29,” Kharif reports, “Bitcoin.com Exchange will start selling $1 million worth of Atari Tokens for 25 cents apiece to retail investors outside of the U.S.”

Atari Tokens are part of the console manufacturer’s efforts to establish a standard cryptocurrency for the gaming industry. Whether or not the console — or the initiative — will succeed remains to be seen. Pre-orders via an Indiegogo campaign were enthusiastic, however. Atari’s CEO, Frederic Chesnais, emphasized a slow-and-steady strategy, speaking of the company’s work as “a long-term strategy.”

It’s an unexpected blend of the nostalgic and the very contemporary. We’ll all know more when the VCS begins to ship — which is slated to happen in November.

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