Atari's E.T. games unearthed from New Mexico landfill after more than 30 years

By on April 28, 2014, 7:15 AM
atari, landfill, et, excavation

A team of diggers and filmmakers searching an Alamogordo, New Mexico, landfill for remnants of Atari E.T. games struck gold over the weekend. Led by archaeologist Andrew Reinhard, the team unearthed hundreds of copies of the game that many consider to the worst title ever made.

Nearly 200 local residents and game enthusiasts convened on the dig site Saturday in hopes of uncovering the truth but strong winds and the stench of rotting garbage drove most away before the first games were uncovered a few hours in.

Zak Penn, who is directing a documentary on the subject for Xbox Entertainment Studios, said he was relieved and psyched that people actually got to see something. It’s unclear just yet how many games are on site although Penn added that they found a hell of a lot of games in the initial dig.

So, what’s with all the fuss over some old E.T. cartridges in a landfill in New Mexico?

As the story goes, Atari paid tens of millions of dollars to director Steven Spielberg for the licensing rights to the hit 1982 film. The company wanted to capitalize on the success of the movie and rushed the game to store shelves within a matter of weeks.

Needless to say, that was a terrible plan. Despite selling around 1.5 million copies early on, the game quickly stalled and ended up costing the company $500 million. Rumor has it that Atari cut their losses and buried the unsold cartridges in a landfill which we now know to be accurate.

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