The headline of this article is something you probably never expected to read. We’re going to level with you: we weren’t expecting it either. And yet, it’s a true statement. Atari is looking to launch a new console this coming fall, but along with it, a new form of cryptocurrency as well. The Atari VCS is supposed to be available come November, and players will be able to buy things for it using currency dubbed “Atari Tokens.” These tokens are in fact backed by Bitcoin.
According to Bloomberg, starting on October 29th, Bitcoin Exchange will be selling $1 million in Atari Toeksn for 25 cents apiece. These tokens will allow players to purchase in-game content, with Atari banking on the potential to make their cryptocurrency an industry standard. Supposedly, the company is also working on a gaming stablecoin, though it is not yet ready and there’s no indication of when it will be.
Needless to say, this move by Atari is a pretty odd one, and it’s also quite risky. Atari is, as one might imagine, not the gaming mega name they used to be. Much smaller than its golden years, the whole of Atari is comprised of only twenty staffers. It’s pretty obvious that the simultaneous launch of a console and a new cryptocurrency intend to try and revive the company after it emerged from the throes of bankruptcy.
It goes without saying that the strategy here is to go after players and customers that are really hungry for nostalgia. The Atari VCS will be introducing remastered or remade versions of old Atari classics, such as Missile Command: Recharged. While there’s nothing wrong with this strategy in and of itself, it’s not hard to see why it could flop: the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are both also coming out at around the same window of time, and more importantly, at prices that aren’t much different. The Atari VCS will be priced at around $390, a very similar price to both cutting edge new consoles.
Releasing in November, the Atari VCS will also sell both a more traditional joystick design and a more modern controller design, both of which will be $60. This pricing is also very similar to the cost of controllers for the next generation of Xbox and PlayStation consoles.
While we don’t wish to speak ill of a new business enterprise from Atari, we have to admit that we’re skeptical of its chances for success. Needless to say, breaking into the console market in the modern era is very difficult, seeing as how it is dominated by two massive companies with years of continuous popularity to back them up. While we wish for the Atari VCS the best and would like nothing more than to see it succeed, a long and bumpy road seems very likely for such a console being launched at the same time as the biggest competition in the business today.