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More Trouble with Coleco Chameleon Surfaces, Revisionist History Spotted

This is a tough article to write.  To this point, I have been unbiased as possible on my views of the RETRO Video Game System, now the Coleco Chameleon.  I am doing my best to keep it that way because articles from me, as one of the owners of RGM, are considered “RGM word”.  Everyone else that writes for RGM are freelancers and their work is approved by me before publishing.  I take great pride in making sure that what we present is entertaining, factual and timely.  That is why it is so tough for me to write this one.  It seems the situation with the Coleco Chameleon is only getting worse as we near the reveal at the New York Toy Fair in early 2016.  Why is that?  Read on.

First, I would like to thank Mr. Kennedy for taking the time to come back to the forums at AtariAge.  He alluded to the dire situation there in his interview with Arstechnica (examined here on RGM).  For him to return to that forum and discuss the Coleco Chameleon is the only bright spot I can see in this story.  Best to get it out upfront, right?

First, the press release.  After getting some major space with Kotaku, Gamespot and Verge to name a few, the press release has apparently “changed”.  The one that those sites wrote their stories off of is this one:

Coleco Release

The CURRENT press release, as it appears on, at the time of this writing, is this one:

press release revised

Notice the additional information in the last paragraph there?  Kind of makes Kotaku, Gamespot, etc look like the ones that can’t read.  In fact, I believe that the PR firm that Mr. Kennedy hired did exactly what they were told to do.  Mr. Kennedy first claims that the PR firm added the information “without his knowledge” as evidenced below (posting on the AtariAge forums as “Parrothead” and he is replying to my comment):

PR acting on their own

A little bit of information on myself here.  I own a public relations company (used to operate under the name “Scenic 7 PR”).  I have operated it since around 2009 and have worked with hundreds of clients over that period.  I have written over 1,200 press releases personally.  NOTHING went out until my client approved it.  NOTHING.  Mr. Kennedy laying this “mistake” at the feet of his PR firm is disheartening as you will see soon.

Here, Mr. Kennedy admits he saw, obviously approved, the addition to the press release prior to it being sent out.


This is pretty sad as it was just ONE PAGE prior, granted about 80 comments, that Mr. Kennedy was stating that he DID NOT know the wording of the press release had changed.  Also, this brings up another concern, who posted the press release (in both forms) to the website?  Is Mr. Kennedy not paying attention to what his company is doing publicly?  The press release was changed AFTER the backlash from people like myself (detailed in my article “Coleco Chameleon, Coleco Holdings and the Real Coleco”).  Yet, no one from Mr. Kennedy’s company, nor the PR firm that apparently acts on their own, can be bothered to contact any of those sites to request the articles be renamed, retractions be printed or any other kind of correction (evidence below):

PR Why bother


This is puzzling as Mr. Kennedy reached out to me personally when I wrote the first article about the RETRO Video Game System (this one).  In that article, which was based on his comment on NintendoAge forums (here) I stated that Konami, Sega and Namco were all mentioned by Mr. Kennedy in his post, as in talks or otherwise interested in developing for the RETRO Video Game System.  This was back in February of this year.  I took it upon myself, prior to being contacted by Mr. Kennedy, to contact those companies.  I was met with denial of even knowing what I was talking about by all of them except one.

I was given a meeting over the phone (I am in Arkansas) with a representative from the public relations department for Konami.  When I called I was alerted to the fact that someone from their licensing department was also available for the meeting.  They admitted knowing who Mr. Kennedy was and having a cursory idea of what the RVGS was SUPPOSED to be.  They also stated that there was NO official support for the console planned at that time and that all decisions would have to go through the Japan based headquarters.  Hmmm, doesn’t sound like they were “in talks to bring classics franchises” such as Castlevania and Contra to the RETRO Video Game System, now does it?

Mr. Kennedy contacted me the following week, via e-mail, requesting I remove the names of the companies listed in my article.  He edited the names out of his forum post as well.  Being a trusting type, I did not screen cap any of this (as you can see, I have since changed quite a bit when dealing with this situation).

Now, ask yourself, why could Mr. Kennedy (who at the time did not have a PR firm available) could be bothered to ask me to change my article, but NOT do the same to Kotaku, Gamespot, etc?  It surely couldn’t be because he felt that RGM was so big that we were going to affect that significant a number of people with our articles.  It can’t be that he feels RGM is bigger than Kotaku, could it?


He contacted me to edit my article because I did something the others did not.  I checked sources, followed leads and operated as a journalist should.  I rocked the boat for Mr. Kennedy and his name dropping actions.  If you are a fan of Retro Gamer, please pick up a copy of issue #148 which features an interview with Mr. Kennedy where he is back to name dropping the same companies that previously denied their support.  Maybe things changed since I talked with them, it has been nearly a year after all.  Considering Konami’s lack of interest in console gaming (Arstechnica link since Mr. Kennedy likes them), I seriously doubt they are going to take on the challenge of the Coleco Chameleon while turning their backs on Xbox and Playstation (who have MILLIONS of potential gamers to sell classic franchise releases to).

The biggest reason I believe Mr. Kennedy cannot be bothered, or bother his PR firm, to contact Kotaku and the others is they are bringing in a lot of press.  The Coleco Chameleon NEEDS positive press to counter the severe amount of negative press the RVGS garnered.  They NEED to bury the failed IndieGoGo campaign in Google, Bing and Yahoo search results- replacing it with, basically, flat out lies that can be “shed off” onto someone else as “they misread the press release.”

Interesting that Mr. Kennedy feels it is adequate that people are pointing out the fallacy of the article titles in the comments (in the picture above).  I mean, we can’t have the truth cutoff those sweet clicks prematurely can we?

Interestingly now there is a working prototype that “isn’t costing [Mr. Kennedy] a lot of money and [he has] funded it [himself]”.  It is laid at the feet of Mr. John Carlsen that the price of the RVGS got out of hand.  As the project lead, founder of the company and supposedly final say on actions taken by that company, Mr. Kennedy sure does not have a firm grasp on what people he is paying are doing under his company name.

Prototype mentioned

John Carlsen Prototype Mention

Now, RETRO Video Game Systems is posting on Facebook that they are meeting with the Senior Buyer for Toys R Us at the New York Toy Fair early next year.  This is great news.  The part I don’t believe is that it is coming from RVGS management (or whomever has control of their FB account):

Toys R us


I base my cynicism on the situation that I uncovered with Konami, Sega, Capcom and Namco (mentioned earlier in this article).  I am not sure if that executive from Toys R Us is meeting with Coleco Holdings with the intent of discussing the Coleco Chameleon or not.

Toy fair booth

If you are to believe what Mr. Kennedy and his PR firm are wanting you to believe then why would Coleco Holdings have to “invite” the RETRO Video Game Systems team and the Coleco Chameleon “into their booth”?  According to the articles that Mr. Kennedy cannot be bothered to request be corrected, nor correct on their official social media, they ARE Coleco.  Rather weird.  Maybe I am reading too much into that part, the many misleading articles and the whole situation here.

My current last comment on the AtariAge thread is asking Mr. Kennedy to please let me know who his PR firm is (I already know).  It should be rather easy to let everyone know who he is working with to promote the Coleco Chameleon.  I want to know so that others don’t someday hire them for anything they might need help with.

As usual, I will continue to follow this story as it “develops”.  Ever ready with the print screen key, I will be.

Carl Williams

It is time gaming journalism takes its rightful place as proper sources and not fanboys giving free advertising. If you wish to support writers like Carl please use the links below.

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12 Responses to “More Trouble with Coleco Chameleon Surfaces, Revisionist History Spotted”

  1. That was very comprehensive! You are fighting the good fight. I think Mike K is his own “PR firm.”

    • Carl Williams says:

      As I have said before, keep supporting work like this and we will continue to follow it. We take the saying “support what you want and we will give you more” quite seriously.

      I know who his PR firm is and it is not “him”. He is in the wrong country for that…

      Thank you.

  2. […] it is all the rage to lead articles with misleading titles (see my discussion on the Coleco Chameleon situation) I figured why not.  Technically that headline is not wrong.  Sega COULD publish more games for […]

  3. TWF says:

    Great Neptune, this really is something. Absolute madness, all of this – I really don’t expect the Chameleon to be particularly successful. Thank you very much Carl for your accuracy, your objectivity – even as it is strained by such… such balderdash as what’s going on now – and your relentless dedication to the truth. 🙂 Please, please don’t ever become like the Big Websites that are obsessed with the instant headlines.

    • Carl Williams says:

      Thank you for the support. Honestly, it means the world to me and the team to know we have the support from the people. We see it in the traffic on our articles but it means so much more when comments are left.

      I do promise that my future articles concerning the Coleco Chameleon will be less strained. Just sometimes you have to let it out and today was the breaking point. Not bad though, I went over 140 hours of research and writing about this saga and have surpassed 30,000 words total in articles here covering it. I will do my best to keep my rants to that schedule.

      I did post one, ONE, article with a title that would be suited on Kotaku and the others. This one –

      I did it that way partly to poke fun at the big sites and their moronic “clickbait” bullshit and to poke fun at the whole “Coleco is back” movement that Mike and company are trying to slip over on the public. Those types of titles will NOT be a regular thing here at RGM as long as I am in charge.

      If they are ever honest and tell the truth about something I will make sure it is documented just as well as their fallacies. I have given Mike and his team an open microphone in my interview with them and they know the option is there to do it again. I just don’t foresee them taking me up on the offer.

      • Carbonated Lithium says:

        ” their moronic “clickbait” bullshit and to poke fun at the whole “Coleco
        is back” movement that Mike and company are trying to slip over on the
        public” I really personally doubt that Mike is trying to slip by anything on the public. Unfortunately, I see this as people focusing on ‘Coleco is back’ rather than ‘A Coleco branded console is back’. Cut the guy some slack.

        • Carl Williams says:

          I can see your point. None of my headlines related to the RVGS/Coleco Chameleon are designed to be “clickbait”. They simply give the gist of the article before you click it to read it.

          I wish Mr. Kennedy would drop by, do another interview and dispel the rumors, the concerns pointed out and shut people like me up. I have given him, and the then RVGS team, an open microphone to discuss whatever they wanted. In that 15,000+ word interview I spoke maybe 150 to 200 words. It was not a witchhunt, it was not a throw them under the bus attempt. It was their chance to have a level playing field, granted they won’t get that in forums like AtariAge- there is just too much animosity towards their project. That trouble comes from Mr. Kennedy himself- as pointed out in this article. In less than about an hour he went from not knowing the PR company inserted additional text to admitting he saw it and felt it was okay to run with that.

          If you notice, when the interview I did with them was released, it was over. I let their words stand. No more articles about them were published here on RGM. I let them have final word on the situation. I did not continue to run articles following the demise of their IndieGoGo campaign, like other sites did. I did not continue publishing speculation articles about “what are they going to do now”. I let it stand. I only write articles that gather the information they make available. I don’t write based on what 3rd parties are telling me, I don’t write anything about what a disgruntled former employee has said. I don’t care about that crap. I only care about the truth.

          Two times in all of the writing I have done covering this sage have I had to correct something. The first was the fact that Konami, Sega, Namco and Capcom were not pleased with Mr. Kennedy dropping their names as supporting, bringing classics to this console, or whatever in connection with the RVGS (at that time). Fans could have taken that as a positive, that yes – those companies are in talks with Mr. Kennedy in some manner but don’t want it public yet. Was it my place to write a conjecture piece stating that? No. That is not the type of articles we publish. ANYONE else was free to take that from my article (after the retraction) and run with it, they certainly run with other “unknowns” as fact.

          The second time I required a correction was with Collectorvision. I mistakenly thought Tiny Knight was the guaranteed game coming to the Coleco Chameleon. I was corrected by their PR agent, John Lester (Gamester81 on Youtube) and it was reflected in the article as so.

          Now, in all of the words I have written (over 30,000 at my best estimate) those are the only two times I got something wrong. I say that because those are the only two articles that anyone in an official capacity has requested a correction on. They can contact me and request changes to articles but apparently “can’t be bothered” to follow that same procedure with sites like Kotaku and Verge? Yeah, that makes sense for the reasons mentioned in the article (again, no dispute from an official of the RVGS Inc company).

          I run a PR company. There is NO “inserting” stuff at the last minute to releasing the press release. I am sorry, that just does not happen. If I acted on my own, like he claims his PR company did initially, then he should have fired them, retracted the press release by contacting those companies that received it (certainly not allowing a version of it to be published on their website).

          That is another problem I see here, one that is not touched on yet. There are apparently two versions of the press release. The one that was released publicly on their site and one that gaming sites received, that is not available publicly. Doesn’t that strike you as a little odd? Press releases are not cheap so why would a company pay for TWO different ones? Again, a shady activity from my point of view.

          Thanks for the comments, they are read and as you can see, we do our best to reply to each one if possible.

      • This article is a bit confusing to me. The Retro VGS/Coleco Chameleon isn’t hiding who their PR firm is. It’s plastered all over the email they sent to hundreds (probably thousands) of journalists a week ago.

        Also, why are you quibbling over the “Coleco Is Back” wording of the press release when that is exactly what’s going on here. Obviously, it’s not the same engineers who worked on the Colecovision, but the company is most definitely re-entering the game business, which makes “Coleco Is Back” accurate.

        • Carl Williams says:

          Let’s address your concerns one at a time here.

          Mr. Kennedy knows about our site, he has been interviewed here and knows about the articles I write. He had give absolutely no counter argument to anything, other than the fact that I followed through on his name dropping.

          If you have a copy of that e-mail, I would love to see it. Somehow I was left off that e-mail list (even though I have worked with Mr. Kennedy on several occasions in the past with his other projects (Game Gavel and RETRO Magazine).

          If there is inaccurate information in my article it will be corrected by me after I receive proof of an error. No one from RVGS Inc, Coleco Holdings, Mr. Kennedy’s PR firm, or whomever has provided any proof of a mistake in this article. Therefore, till that happens, it stands as it is. After all, Mr. Kennedy stated publicly (screen shot in this very article) that he cannot control the press in relation to making sure sites like Verge, Kotaku etc provide the correct information.

          The wording. Why am I focusing on the wording? EGM died. Came back with the original owner at the helm. That is “back” in my eyes. Same for Gamefan Magazine (several times it has died and come back under the guidance of Mr. Halverson).

          Licensing a name from a third party company that only has interest in turning a buck on it, that has no connection to the original company, is not “back”. When Infogrames purchased the Atari brand, they didn’t run around stating “Atari is back!” everywhere.

          According to your understanding of the term I can go out and license the name to Delorean Motor Company, release a modern car and you would have no problem with me letting the press run with “Delorean is back! Their car was so awesome Back to the Future!” Right? Sure, I would have licensed the name but it would be less than ingenious to let everyone think that this was THE DMC that created the iconic car.

          Gaijinworks came of the death of Working Designs (covered here- Does that make Gaijinworks “Working Designs 2.0” because Victor Ireland is running it? That type of headline, while never used that I know of, is more truthful than what RVGS Inc are trying to pass over on gamers. They flat out say in the public that “video-game industry pioneer Coleco” returns. That is not true at all.

          Not sure how I can explain this any better to you.

  4. MaximumRD says:

    Geez seems like another train pulling out and gaining on course to be another train wreck in the history of what is the RetroVGS. Thanks for these articles, honesty and clarity. Rob aka MaximumRD

    • Carl Williams says:

      Thank you for the continued support, Rob. I am doing my best to keep things straight in this. This article is a good 5 hours of arranging the sheer mountain of information that needed sorting. I do it because the fans want it.

      I could phone it in like Kotaku and Verge but that is not what we are about here. We are a team from the readers to the staff (which we are hiring if anyone is interested in getting paid to talk about old games).

      • MaximumRD says:

        Hey no problem man, I always been one against misinformation. Some people clearly hate hearing the truth lol, I have always been one to question things, ask for details etc. I am sure you can relate how crazy it is when you dig deep and expose the truth how many react with this “Hey man quite killing my dreams and fantasies!” attitude. Well, OK keep dreaming and wishing but personally I want to know the likelihood of something actually being successful. Many just don’t want to deal with truth if it kills their fun. Myself, sure some call me cynical, whatever but I just refuse to delude myself with fantasy and dreams, hey I lived through it all at 47 but in that time I have seen many, many dreams, promises, petitions, projects etc all appear in the spotlight only to fail and never be heard of again, that is life experience and the more details we can get behind the scenes, the more up front information the more we can access whether or not these things might actually happen or are just more pie in the sky fantasy ala Dreamcast 2.

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