At E3 2017, a surprise guest was there, Atari. A company I haven’t heard from in a very, very long time. I know that they’ve been making small and unpopular games, but I was pretty surprised to hear them announcing a brand new console. They didn’t reveal much about it other than the design and fact that it was being dubbed, The Atari Box. To me, it sounds like a knock off of the recent Steam Box, and even sounds like it might work the same way. According to Atari CEO, Fred Chesnais, the console is supposed to be able to not only play current games, but also feature some classic Atari games Remastered for the new generation of gaming. However, I’m very skeptical about this.
Incase you weren’t aware, Atari has had a horrible track record in the gaming industry as of recent years. Most games they’ve published haven’t been that great, and they were even worse back when the 360 and PS3 were popular. Though they’ve published many good games in the past like DOOM, Ikaruga, even The Witcher. However, after they released Alone in the Dark and Alone in the Dark: Illumination, things started to go a bit down hill for them. Will this console be a comeback for Atari? Maybe. Lets take a look back what Atari has done up until now.
What is Atari?
Atari used to be the greatest gaming company from the early days of gaming. It’s golden years were from 1978-1981 when they released the Atari 2600, one of their most popular and legendary consoles. It was also around the time their two most popular games were released, Centipede and Asteroids. They were the best company in North America, and were getting popular with each passing day. Releasing games such as Tempest and Adventure. However, this didn’t last.
The Gaming Crash of 1983 came out and brought an unfortunate end to Atari’s monopoly on the gaming industry. Due to their greedy and cheap business practices, they began to pay the price for it. With their refusal of putting credits of their developers in their games and their attempt to make consoles cheaper, it soon led to the unholy release of ET and Pac-Man. The two worst Atari games ever made. This move soon brought the company to it’s weakest.
Their two recent consoles (the Atari 5200 and the Atari 1200XL) both were total flops, and soon crippled the company. They racked up nearly half a billion dollars worth in losses. The company CEO soon sold 5,000 of their shares, and it wasn’t long before Atari had been bought out by a guy named Jack Tramiel. For awhile, the company had gone silent, and soon after, SEGA and Nintendo became the new face of gaming. That is, until Atari snuck back into the game.
What happened to them after 1983?
Even after the crash, Atari still remained a company. They were sort of in the background while SEGA and Nintendo were in steady competition. To try and make a comeback, Atari released the Atari 7200. While the console did have some of it’s perks, it just couldn’t compete with the Nintendo Entertainment System and the SEGA Genesis, and ended up being a flop. Pretty soon, both SEGA and Nintendo made their own handheld consoles (the Nintendo Gameboy and SEGA Game Gear). Once again, Atari put their hat in the ringer with the Lynx I and Lynx II handheld consoles. However, Atari again wasn’t a match for the Gameboy and Game Gear.
Then the Bit Wars began!
Both SEGA and Nintendo weren’t just trying to be the best when it came to game, but they also wished to be the best in visuals. Nintendo had been behind SEGA when it came to bits, with the NES being only 8 Bit, and the SEGA Genesis being 16 Bit. As for one final try, Atari came out and surprised everyone with the Atari Jaguar. “The first ever 64 bit console!” or so they said. Everyone was super excited to see Atari’s new console, and couldn’t wait to see the new visuals. Unfortunately, their excitement was soon met with disappointment when they found that almost all the games weren’t 64 bit.
Many of the games ranged anywhere from 16 bit to 32 bit, which of course wasn’t at all what they promised. Sadly the console just ended up being no different from the competition. It’s even to this day still considered just a 32 bit console. Soon after, SEGA and Nintendo both released their own 64 bit consoles (the Nintendo 64 and the SEGA Dreamcast). Even after SEGA dropped out of the Console Wars and Sony and Microsoft entered the limelight, Atari still continued making consoles. Most of these were just remakes of their old consoles and didn’t get much popularity.
Pretty soon, the company fell into obscurity and had gone dark for awhile. Until E3 2017.
My Thoughts on their New Console
You know what, to be honest, I personally hope it goes well. This company has to be the most stubborn gaming company I’ve ever seen. No matter what has happen to them in recent years, they are still here and are still making content for gamers. I hope what they have for us in September will be able to compete with Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft. I hope their console does great when it comes out. I don’t have the highest hopes, but I will remain optimistic for them.
We’ve seen the rise and fall of Atari. We’ve seen the good and the bad this company has done. We’ve seen every success and failure this company has produced, and I have a strong feeling that they’ve learned from their mistakes. They’re aware of the mistakes they made in the past, and they should know by now that they have to give it their all. If they wish to get back in the game, they need to earn their consumers’ trust. They need to prove to the gaming community that this new console is a must-have for all gamers.
We can only hope . . .
- Fulton, Steve. “Atari: The Golden Years — A History, 1978-1981.” Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Games, Gamasutra, 21 Aug. 2008, http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/132160/atari_the_golden_years__a_.php.
- jihedovsky. “New Atari Console Will Bring ‘Current Gaming Content’ As Well As Classic Titles.” TechHub, TechHub, 17 July 2017, http://www.tech-hub-magazine.com/2017/07/17/new-atari-console-will-bring-current-gaming-content-as-well-as-classic-titles/.
- “The Great Video Game Crash of 1983 / Useful Notes.” TV Tropes, TV Tropes, tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/UsefulNotes/TheGreatVideoGameCrashOf1983?from=Main.TheGreatVideoGameCrashOf1983.
- “From Vintage Video Game Consoles To Today.” TheGameConsole.com: Atari Video Game Consoles, TheGameConsole, http://www.thegameconsole.com/atari.html.
- Rye, Rotten. “Bit Wars vs. Resolution Wars.” SuperNerdLand, SuperNerdLand, 20 May 2015, supernerdland.com/bit-wars-vs-resolution-wars/.