Atari VCS architect Rob Wyatt leaves project, calls out Atari for missed pay

Until just recently, Rob Wyatt was the system architect heading up Atari’s new console project but Wyatt now says he’s resigned from his post after Atari neglected to pay him for more than six months.

Until just recently, Rob Wyatt was the system architect heading up Atari’s new console project but Wyatt now says he’s resigned from his post after Atari neglected to pay him for more than six months.

Speaking to The Register, Wyatt said that Atari had failed to fulfill invoices from his company Tin Giant for over six months despite the firm’s work on the system and, as of October 4, he had officially resigned from the project.

“I was hoping to see the project through to the end and that it wouldn't come to this, but I have little choice other than to pursue other opportunities,” Wyatt told the publication.

Wyatt, previously the system architect behind Microsoft’s original Xbox, and Tin Giant were announced to be working on the Linux-based console in June 2018, though their partnership had quietly started months before.

We’ve reached out to Atari about Wyatt’s departure and claims of missing payments and will update this article following a reply.

The throwback console was first teased as the Ataribox back in 2017, and later unveiled as a hybrid current generation and retro game console called the Atari VCS. The system went up for preorder this summer and, according to Atari’s website, is slated to ship in early 2020.

Early on, the VCS was partially funded by an Indiegogo campaign that has raised just over $3 million to date, though the company has now turned to traditional preorders for the system that run between $250 and $390 based on controller and hardware options.

The Register’s full story on Wyatt’s departure and the Atari VCS console as a whole paints a troubling picture for the console’s past, production, and eventual launch. Atari, meanwhile, released a project update today on Medium to discuss the progress it has made with its current pre-production prototype and reaffirming the VCS’ spring 2020 launch.

Update: In a statement sent to Gamasutra, an Atari representative reiterated that the project is on track for its launch early next year and offered the following:

"It is Atari’s policy not to comment on an isolated matter under dispute, only to say that the Atari VCS project has always been a team effort and its success has never been and will never be dependent on any single individual or partner. 

"We remain confident in the Atari VCS as the entire team works diligently to bring forth its vision according to plan, and we will continue to communicate accordingly over the coming weeks and months, including hands-on presentations to key media and partners planned for later this fall."

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