E.T The Extra Terrestrial – is the legend behind Atari’s downfall really true?
Imagine the UK archaeological TV Show Time Team but relocated to dusty landfill in New Mexico, add in 700 enthusiastic gamers with an appreciation of videogame history and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what to expect from the forthcoming documentary provisionally titled Atari: Game Over.
Back in 1982, Atari developed an E.T. The Extra Terrestrial game for the 2600 to piggyback on the massive success of the film of the same name. Unfortunately, Atari was forced to rush the development of the game (just five and a half weeks) and considerably overestimated the demand for it, manufacturing somewhere in the region of 5 million units.
Even though the company sold over 1 million units of E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, the subsequent negative reviews quickly impacted on sales, leaving a huge volume of unsold stock that needed to be disposed of and E.T. earning an (arguably unjustified) reputation as the worst game in videogame history.
The story was that millions of cartridges were then buried in a landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico and the costs that Atari had to write off (combined with the huge expense of the E.T. license) played a significant part in both the collapse of Atari as a company and the gaming industry crash of the early 1980’s.
Although it has never been disputed that the cartridges were buried in a landfill, the question of how many has intrigued many gamers over the last three decades. Last month, a documentary commissioned for Xbox Entertainment was given access the the Alamogordo landfill and in the last couple of days, reports have been appearing of E.T. cartridges being dug up, along with many other collections of unsold titles.
You can find out more information over at news.Xbox.com The documentary will air exclusively on Xbox Live of the 360 and Xbox One.