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Atari’s retro console project appears to be completely falling apart

Things are not looking good behind the scenes of the Atari VCS, Atari's retro console loaded with more than 100 old games, despite what Atari would like everyone to think.

On the same day that Atari released a blog post updating the world on the progress the company was making on the VCS console's hardware, The Register reported Tuesday that the Atari system architect Rob Wyatt quit the project on Oct. 4, stating that Atari hadn't paid invoices to his design firm for more than six months.

Not only that, The Register spoke with sources involved with the project, one of whom called it a "shit show."

That really doesn't look good, especially when you couple it with the fact that there have been several delays in the development of the Atari VCS since it was first teased in 2017. With an expected shipping date for the $250 console set in the vague window of "early 2020," we haven't seen a lot of concrete progress on the VCS. Atari was also accused of failing to pay another individual involved in the early stages of Atari VCS development, Feargal Mac Conuladh, according to a lawsuit filed against the company.

Atari's blog post appears to show a bit of progress on the development of the console, but there are some red flags littered all throughout the update.

It appears Atari doesn't want to give anyone too much hope

In three instances in the blog post, which shows photos of the console's motherboard and a handful of pieces of what will make up the outside of the console, it notes either that a certain feature isn't visible in the photo, or the picture doesn't accurately represent what it actually looks like.

You would think that in a blog post created specifically to show off hardware progress, the parts they're talking about would be fully shown and the pictures they shared would live up to the words and promises that are being shared. It appears Atari doesn't want to give anyone too much hope.

Additionally, Atari made sure to note that backers for their IndieGoGo campaign would be getting finished hardware products but not finished software, and Atari would be relying on them to help provide " feedback and ideas" before the Atari VCS hits retail in the spring. At least they're being honest that they aren't shipping backers a finished product.

The Atari VCS is looking less and less like a video game console akin to Nintendo's NES Classic or Sega's Genesis Mini and more like a cheap Linux PC in a chassis that's inspired by the Atari 2600.

The Register received a response from Atari's PR firm, stating: "Atari wishes to inform you that some of your questions indicate that you possess information that is incorrect and/or outdated. In addition, some aspects of the Atari VCS project clearly have been leaked to you in violation of existing confidentiality agreements, and Atari therefore hereby reserves its rights in that respect." 

Atari didn't refute anything specific in this statement, which calls into question the suggestion that The Register actually misrepresented anything in its reporting.

If you're a backer of the Atari VCS, keep your fingers crossed that Atari actually hits its latest promise of shipping consoles in early 2020.

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