Atari VCS enters pre-production, architect claims six months of unpaid invoices

It’s been a long and winding road for the Atari VCS, the upcoming retro console from the renowned manufacturer. Development on the console may finally be about to enter a steady phase, as the initial concept is getting ready to enter mass production, according to a new report from Atari.

However, the good news comes with a conflicting statement from former Atari VCS architect Rob Wyatt, who has officially resigned from the project, accusing Atari of allegedly failing to pay six months of invoices.

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Via a Medium post, Atari opened the doors of the factory where the console will be assembled. It showed the PCB board that is comprised of an AMD Ryzen APU, two USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI port, and one power connector. In the middle will sit a blower fan and venting system, and it comes with two SODIMM DDR4 4GB RAM sticks, which you can upgrade. The Atari VCS plastic parts are nearly complete, but this is an ongoing process and the photos don’t do justice to the result, looking a lot more plastic than they will turn out to be.

Currently, the Atari VCS operates just like a computer. The pre-production units boot up with the Atari BIOS, and while the custom operating system is functional, there are several apps such as Antstream Arcade or other “native entertainment and game applications” that aren’t ready to be installed in these units due to being in different stages of development.

Atari plans on showing the console to the world through a series of hands-on preview events later in the fall, something that will ramp up the excitement for the planned release date of March 2020.

Atari VCS motherboard

While everything seems to be running smoothly after several hindrances, including a lack of tangible progress and a few delays, Atari VCS architect Rob Wyatt is now claiming that “Atari haven’t paid invoices going back over six months.” Speaking to The Register, Wyatt states that “As of Friday, October 4th, I have officially resigned as the architect of the Atari VCS.”

The Register comes up with a few thoughts after a two-week investigation into the development of the Atari VCS. Apart from the aforementioned issue with main architect Rob Wyatt, the Atari VCS is described as “a $250-ish PC in a nice-looking retro box,” without any native apps, and “penny-pinching throughout the development process” that resulted in various bad decisions. The Register adds that no original games developers have signed up to develop games for the Atari VCS, two years after the reveal, and that “they are unlikely to in future, either.”

The investigation concludes with a truly grim forecast: The console is unlikely to hit its planned March 2020 deadline, and “may in fact never launch.” We’re just a few months short of the release date, so it won’t be long until we know if Atari delivered on its promises of a retro console that “is meant to be your machine.”