Atari’s Vaporware Console Is Getting Blockchain-Based Games

Atari’s Vaporware Console Is Getting Blockchain-Based Games
Photo: Ultra
Facebook may have decided that you shouldn’t see the news, but we think you deserve to be in the know with Gizmodo Australia’s reporting. To sign up for our daily newsletter covering the latest news, features and reviews, head HERE. For a running feed of all our stories, follow us on Twitter HERE. Or you can bookmark the Gizmodo Australia homepage to visit whenever you need a news fix.

In what is certain to be one of the least promising moves in console gaming in 2020, Atari has partnered with a company called Ultra Gaming to offer blockchain-based game streaming to its forthcoming VCS console.

The fabled Atari VCS has long been a bit of fun vaporware that is currently suffering from shipping issues after promising delivery in March 2020. This new partnership – one of many that the company has announced over the past few months – aims to add Ultra’s digital downloads to the console.

Unlike other game delivery services, Ultra is promising digital ownership through cryptographic signing. This means, in theory, you could resell a game you’ve stopped playing and pay for games in Ultra or Atari’s own digital currency. In other words, if you change consoles – or lose your data – your games are lost.

Blockchain companies love partnerships like this one and they love partners who will announce anything for a buck. This partnership goosed the Ultra token price – the price of its private cryptocurrency – from 13 cents ($0.18) to 17 cents ($0.24).

The games, to be clear, look either fake, awful, or both.

Screenshot: Ultra Screenshot: Ultra

This is not to disparage the entire idea of blockchain-based gaming. In theory, the idea could have legs. Imagine, for example, a virtual world in which you can give or sell a virtual cartridge or DVD to someone who can then “insert” it into their own virtual console – which they also “own,” virtually. It’s far-fetched but feasible, but I doubt Atari and this Ultra crew are the folks to pull it off.