Who would have thought that digging up millions of E.T. video game cartridges out of a New Mexico landfill would have been such big news. A few months ago it was reported that writer Zak Penn (X-Men 2, Avengers, Incident At Loch Ness) would be directing a documentary for Xbox that tells the story about Atari's 1983 E.T. video game, it's failure, and if the legend about them burying millions of copies of it in a New Mexico landfill was true. There's been a lot of speculation about the facts of this story over the years, but it turns out one of the most infamous urban legends in video games is true.
Penn and his documentary film crew went out to the landfill yesterday to excavate it, and they found the games. It's still unclear whether or not there are actually millions of copies down there. Apparently they've found hundreds so far, but they are still digging so we'll eventually see how many they actually pull out the there.
So… what are they going to do with all these game cartridges now that they've dug them up? Test them to see if they are still playable? Put them in storage? Donate them to museums? Sell them on eBay? I guess they could always just throw them back away.
Here's a little more background information on the Atari and the game that disgraced the company.
Atari thought it would achieve high sales figures based on its connection with the film, which was extremely popular throughout the world. Negotiations to secure the rights to make the game ended in late July 1982, giving Warshaw only five and a half weeks to develop the game in time for the 1982 Christmas season. The result is often cited as one of the worst video games released and was one of the biggest commercial failures in video gaming history. The game's commercial failure and resulting effects on Atari are frequently cited as a contributing factor to the video game industry crash of 1983.
E.T. is frequently cited as a contributing factor to Atari's massive financial losses during 1983 and 1984. It is speculated that as a result of overproduction and returns, millions of unsold cartridges were buried in an Alamogordo, New Mexico landfill.
This whole thing seems absolutely pointless. I don't know why I think this is so interesting and cool, but I do!