The Unearthing of Thousands of Copies of E.T. for the Atari 2600 Put on Hold

During the height of the video game industry’s first wave of success, the mighty Atari paid $25 million to acquire the rights to one of the lamest movies of the 80’s, E.T. The game was rushed, sucked, sold poorly and the entire world agreed that it was easily one of the worst games of all time. A big deal considering most of the Atari 2600 games looked exactly the same so for one to stink, it had to stink on epic levels.

Although Atari has never admitted it, after the catastrophic failure of E.T., they were left with thousands of carts that they couldn’t sell and so they buried them at a dump in Alamogordo, NM. Given the fact that Atari had a warehouse in El Paso, TX, the story wasn’t so far-fetched.

E.T. was developed in 5 and a half weeks to launch the game in time for the 1982 Christmas season

Fast-forward to now and Fuel Entertainment and LightBox Interactive have combined to produced a documentary exclusive to Microsoft consoles that covers the history of the game and the excavation of the dump, either finding thousands of rotting E.T. carts or thousands of rotting corpses. Both would be cool.


Unfortunately, the New Mexico Environment Department said that their proposed waste excavation plan was “generic” and lacking in site specific details, so they’re squashing the dig until they receive a revised plan. And additional cash under the table.

Next Generation Magazine reported that Atari grossed US$25 million in sales, but netted a loss of US$100 million due to overproduction and returns

The Alamagordo Daily News said, a 2004 study of the landfill found elevated levels of several chemicals and the NMED recommended further testing of the site, resulting in the detection of “22 compounds of concern” at the site. A city official said in December that the finding of chemicals at the landfill could cause a lengthy delay in the excavation of the site.

And so we wait.