Atari VCS: Managing the Unexpected
The Atari team hopes that you, your loved ones and colleagues are all safe and sound today as the world addresses the unprecedented challenges caused by COVID-19, and our daily work and personal lives become increasingly affected.
Production / Delivery Update
As the Atari Group recently announced, we have confirmed delivery of enough parts by the end of March to build our first 500 Atari VCS production units. A good portion of these first Atari VCS units are earmarked as dev kits for more developers. We believe it would be unfair to use the balance to fulfill only a small number of Indiegogo orders, so Atari’s plan is to ship to all backers at the same time when enough VCS units and peripherals are available.
As of this writing, the factory partners are back to work, not at full capacity, but definitely back to work. The Atari VCS team remains cautiously optimistic that China’s manufacturing industry, and our supply chain, are improving. We do remain focused on the ongoing supply chain issues, working hard to secure the needed components to deliver the Indiegogo units, and then to expand production to fulfill more orders. We are SO close and need to have China’s manufacturing industry, the Atari VCS supply chain, and retailer distribution systems back in order and at full capacity to be able to establish firm shipping and launch dates.
After Indiegogo backer units are delivered, it is very likely that additional Atari VCS inventory will remain constricted by limitations within the supply and distribution chains. While pre-orders are ongoing at AtariVCS.com, GameStop and Walmart, in anticipation of demand outstripping supply, we recently launched a waiting list to ensure that our most ardent fans can secure an Atari VCS as soon as possible. Those who join the list now will have a chance to purchase remaining available Atari VCS units only after all Indiegogo backers and pre-order sales have been fulfilled.
The order of delivery will be as follows: 1) Indiegogo backers; 2) pre-order sales from AtariVCS.com and our retail partners Walmart and GameStop; 3) members of the waitlist, who will receive an email based on order of registration and then have a few days to confirm a purchase. There is no obligation to purchase, but failing to do so will lose your spot in the queue. (Note: If you are an Indiegogo backer or have already pre-ordered and received the waiting list email, your initial order is secure and you may disregard the new offer.)
Pre-ordering from AtariVCS.com and our retail partners remains the absolute best way for fans to guarantee that they receive one of the very first available units.
Hardware Manufacturing Update
Our factory partner’s facility — situated northwest of Shanghai — is fortunately less-affected by the situation in China than several suppliers in other parts of the country, where many workers remain at home, with some factories still only operating at just 15–20% capacity. Our factory continues to work with our procurement teams to finalize the Atari VCS. Please bear in mind that this is also the same situation at the factory manufacturing the Atari VCS Classic Joysticks and Modern Controllers, and we are also working closely with them.
For the VCS team, one important focal point has recently been the cosmetic specifications. Near the end of any new product introduction, the engineering and factory quality assurance teams start to focus on cosmetic excellence.
As most followers of the project know, the pre-production systems we have shown at live events and in numerous pictures the past few months have shiny plastic cases rather than the final and more-premium-looking matte finish slated for mass production.
Below are some examples of the attention to detail taken in this stage of the process, which we think you will find interesting. First is a pair of reference charts that define the official baseline standards for the molded plastics and wood veneers. The inspectors monitor these standards every step of the way to ensure that each Atari VCS is of the highest quality.
The following are excerpts from a recent Product Cosmetic Requirements document and photographic examples of defects for which our factory QA teams are on the lookout:
Plastic Defects and Examples
Molded Plastic Specifications:
OK = Good/Accept
*OK = Good/Accept — defect must not diminish structural or functional purpose
NG = Not Good/Reject
Wood Veneer Defects and Examples
ATARI VCS Gap and Step Measurements
- The measurement should not include the parting line and cosmetic line.
- If a gap is caused by improper assembly procedure, it is not acceptable.
- The specification of Gap and Step shown in images below is first priority while checking for cosmetic acceptance.
- Units should be placed on a flat table while measuring gaps and steps.
- Gap measurement to be made in direction normal to largest adjacent surfaces. Step measurement to be made parallel to largest adjacent surfaces. Approximate measurement locations denoted on following pages with coded symbols.
- Power button to be flush or below the surfaces of the back housing.
Hands-On Fun with Atari VCS at Events
As part of our run-up to launch, the team had planned to bring pre-production Atari VCS units to live events over the next few months for hands-on demos.
The first such event was D-CAVE, a gaming and fashion pop-up event held in Manhattan on the last weekend in February. The Atari team had a great time interacting with fans of all ages, including some of our wonderful Indiegogo backers, at the four-day gaming and lifestyle event on the corner of Broadway and Canal street. We have shared some of the videos from the event in our social channels, and received a lot of great feedback.
The remainder of our potential Spring schedule of events has now fallen prey to COVID-19, as major events including GDC, SXSW and E3 have been cancelled. San Diego Comic Con is probably next (but who knows?). Will Atari be at Pax West or New York Comic Con as we hope? This is all TBD. We are keeping our eyes out for upcoming opportunities to preview the Atari VCS with more fans, but for the foreseeable future all activity will obviously have to remain online.
Stay tuned, stay safe, stay home. Play video games, enjoy your family, and if you do go anywhere, make sure you have a solid social-distancing ground game!
As always, thanks for your support and patience!
— The Atari VCS Team