Atari Grave Site Unearths "E.T. the Extra Terrestrial" Cartridges 30 Years On
It's not very often that big news in the arcade industry also translates as big news for the mainstream media, so when it does the big news is even more exciting than usual. This was the case with the recently unearthed giant cache of Atari's unsold "E.T. the Extra Terrestrial" game cartridges dug up 30 years later.
Found in Alamogordo, New Mexico, the dump site of the 1982 game was uncovered late last week by filmmakers working with Microsoft Xbox Entertainment Studios on a documentary about the burial site.
Staff on location have confirmed the findings:
“The findings started out very promising, with an old, dusty Atari 2600 joystick buried in the landfill. Then an “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” cartridge. A box. An instruction manual. And the confirmation of “a lot more down there.” How many more, we don’t know just yet — but at this point, we can safely report that those long-buried cartridges are actually, 100 percent there. Crazy, isn’t it!? And it sounds like some other games are down there, too: Centipede, Space Invaders, Asteroids, and possibly more. “Lots of boxes” is what we’re hearing.”
Although long considered a myth, the initial dumping was reported at the time in 1983 by the New York Times. They reported a massive 14 truckloads worth of game cartridges and equipment being dumped at the rediscovered site.
Atari historian Curt Vendel spoke with CNN, saying the game was "hobbled not only by its short development time but by a license and royalty agreement that promised the film's director, Steven Spielberg, $21 million. The company needed to sell out of the 5 million units it produced to break even; it sold about 3.5 million by the following fall."
So far they have found hundreds of copies of what has been dumped at the worst game ever created. with high expectations of finding hundreds, possibly thousands more, with an estimated 700,000 or more units (including over 20 titles) supposedly discard in the dump.
Vendel explained how the incident occurred and why the myth generated despite reports of the dumping at the time:
"This was a write-off dump. Poor sales, the video game crash, 'E.T.'s' not a great game -- the whole thing kind of snowballs together, and then you find Atari is dumping cartridges in the desert. That's how this whole myth kind of self-generated."
More news to come on further findings at the burial site and the documentary series to come.
Images sourced from: http://mmgn.com/xboxone/news--the-atari-grave-is-real-worlds-worst-game-lit