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September 2019 Retro Gaming Article

September 30, 2019 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Atari partners with retro streaming startup Antstream to offset lack of developers for its new VCS console

retro game streaming startup Antstream
Thousands of games sounds good if you don't mind subscribing to a new startup streaming company for content.
Atari is attempting to wriggle out of it's "game quandary" by partnering with a new start up company that offers paid subscriptions for streaming retro games. Thus, in addition the the built-in games from the Atari Vault collection (about 100 games), backers will have the option of streaming additional games via paid subscription.

Solving the "no Game" Issue

This solves two problems for Atari. They have not said anything about the promised online store from which owners can buy and download games. Similarly, Atari has revealed no developer partnerships nor have any developers come forward to say they are creating games for this console. Despite both of these potential setbacks, Atari now has an avenue for delivering games to their console.

Will Atari deliver the VCS console in 2019, and enable Antstream's games to be played?
The streaming service they've partnered with is Antstream Arcade, a company founded by Steve Cottam in 2013. They've been in development for a few years and recently completed a kickstarter campaign this past Spring. They can likely use the money, but the crowd funding exercise was primarily to gauge awareness and solicit opinion from like-minded gamers. Lots of Kickstarter campaigns are run for this purpose.

Antstream timeline

My concern about Antstream is their timeline. While in development for a few years, their Kickstarter indicates they have been beta testing this past summer with an end-of-year launch (2019). If you try to sign up on their website from the USA (at the time of this writing), they say a limited release will occur in January 2020 in America. So, Atari claims to be delivering to backers in December 2019 and to the general public in March 2020. That works out with Antstream's timeline... unless anything goes wrong.

Two Companies - One Deadline

We know Atari has missed every deadline they've ever set, but what about Antstream? Will they launch in the UK this year and expand to other territories in early 2020? We hope so, but keep in mind they are a new company. Once their service is under a full load of subscribers, unforeseen issues could arise.

The are promising 50 classic Atari games at launch for new VCS owners with a steady flow of new games. The first 30 days are free and then owners must subscribe to the service to continue accessing these games. My concern is Atari putting all their eggs in one basket - Antstream - to deliver games to the new VCS when they have no proven track record. It sounds like they are progressing well and we hope Atari is too!

We looked at Antstream when their crowd funding began and liked the concept very much. While preferring physical media, a lot of gamers use emulation to run many consoles on one device and like that convenience. I think a retro-centric game stream has a lot of potential. The question here is will Atari deliver capable hardware to make use of Antstream's subscription service?

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