A few years ago, the idea of Atari returning to the hardware market was a joke. But that didn't stop the company from announcing the Ataribox, which it has since renamed the Atari Video Computer System (VCS), or accepting pre-orders for the device via crowdfunding platforms such as Indiegogo. Today it announced that it's partnered with Anstream Arcade to offer an exclusive version of the company's eponymous retro game streaming platform.
Atari said in the announcement that the "exclusive Antstream Arcade Atari VCS app would include the largest collection of Atari games available on-demand, in both original and enhanced edition formats, curated from across the brand’s many arcade, home, and handheld platforms." At launch the app offers access to 50 classic titles; additional games will be added on "a steady basis." (Which is vague enough to be all-but-meaningless.)
Antstream currently offers access to more than 500 games via its apps. Games played via the service are streamed--much like titles played via Google Stadia will be--and the company has additional "challenge modes" for people looking to change things up a bit. The company said in a support article that its service is currently available in the UK and "some additional support in those countries where our wonderful Kickstarter backers are located."
Atari didn't mention any region-locking for Antstream Arcade Atari VCS, however, so the app will likely be available in the U.S. by the time the Atari VCS launches. The company said it would offer a 30-day free trial of the service, after which users have the option of paying $10 per month or $96 per year for continued access. That is the same price Google is asking for Stadia, which offers access to far more recent titles with higher quality, each month.
The Atari VCS was initially expected to ship in July 2019. When we caught up with the company at E3, however, it told us the don't-call-it-a-console wouldn't ship until March 2020. The company reiterated that shipping date in today's announcement and said the device is now available for pre-order from GameStop, Walmart and its online store. It's still expected to ship with AMD's Raven Ridge accelerated processing unit (APU) inside.