In brief

  • The new Atari VCS game console will include Ultra’s blockchain-based platform.
  • VCS owners can buy PC games from Ultra, plus Ultra will feature Atari games.
  • Atari is looking into using Ultra’s tech to add blockchain capabilities to its titles.

Atari is giving the video console another try this holiday with the launch of a brand new VCS, which is billed as a console and PC hybrid with classic games and new ones alike. And as announced today, it will utilize Ultra’s blockchain-based digital game delivery system.

Atari VCS owners will be able to access Ultra’s PC game shop from the device itself, letting them purchase and download a variety of games—from “AAA” titles from major publishers to smaller, indie experiences. Additional Ultra features, including trading of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and live streaming, will be available on the VCS.

It will be a two-way partnership, too. Atari is “exploring the use of Ultra’s technology including its NFT framework,” according to a release, and may update its classic game properties with blockchain-driven features. Additionally, Atari game franchises such as Ping, Missile Command, and Rollercoaster Tycoon will be released on the Ultra platform.

Atari previously announced a $4 million deal with Animoca Brands—publisher of crypto games The Sandbox and F1 Delta Time—in August that made Animoca the exclusive provider of blockchain-based content for the Atari VCS. Animoca will publish crypto-infused versions of games like Centipede, Asteroids, and Lunar Lander. Decrypt has reached out to Atari to clarify whether today’s Ultra announcement changes anything with the Animoca deal.

“While the Atari VCS pays homage to the hardware company’s pioneering efforts to bring gaming to the masses, it’s also designed to move Atari forward in exciting new ways,” said Michael Arzt, COO of Atari VCS and Connected Devices, in a release. “We look forward to working closely with Ultra to help make the VCS the most blockchain-friendly gaming and entertainment system and to introduce a huge network of gamers and hardware fans to this amazing new frontier.”

Atari’s revitalized VCS is a fresh gamble from a brand that popularized and revolutionized video gaming but has traded hands many times in the decades since its heyday in the 1970s and early 1980s. It will also compete against the new Sony PlayStation 5 and Microsoft Xbox Series X and Series S consoles this fall, selling for $400 with a joystick and modern gamepad.

While this particular partnership sees the VCS implement an existing blockchain gaming platform, Atari also has its own internal crypto initiative. Launched earlier this year, the Atari Token is an Ethereum-based ERC20 token that will be used for online gaming, betting websites, and other gaming-related initiatives. In fact, Ultra users will be able to purchase the VCS console from the store using Atari Tokens or Ultra’s UOS currency.

“Atari stands firmly in support of financial freedom and the liberty that blockchain provides globally for anyone to voluntarily participate in a permissionless and decentralized network,” according to the Atari Token website.

Ultra is powered by the EOS blockchain and has other high-profile partnerships in and around the gaming industry, including AAA publisher Ubisoft and chip-making giant AMD.