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All Articles: E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
The first batch of excavated Atari 2600 cartridges from the Alamogordo landfill have been auctioned off and checkbooks were opened wide to own a piece of history. The auctions were managed by the Tularosa Basin Historical Society and the priciest E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial cartridge (complete with an original box) sold for $1,537. Other E.T. cartridges sold for similar prices, though the ones without a box sold for closer to $500. Other games (including Defender, Asteroids, Centipede, and more) all sold for under $500 with a copy of Missile Command responsible for the lowest sale of $157.50. A complete list of every auctioned off game can be found at eBay.
The city of Alamogordo will continue to sell some of the excavated cartridges in the coming days, though it’s unknown when the next wave of auctions will begin.
Atari: Game Over, a documentary chronicling the dig, as well as Atari’s rise and fall, will be available to download through Microsoft’s Xbox Live service beginning tomorrow.
As promised, the city of Alamogordo has begun selling some of the unearthed Atari 2600 cartridges found during this Spring’s landfill excavation. Nearly 100 titles are now up for bid on the city’s eBay page including E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Asteroids, Missile Command, Defender, and many others.
Bidding for all titles began at $50, but the price of the most sought after titles has quickly gone up. Unsurprisngly, the copies of E.T. are currently the most expensive games in Alamogordo’s auction with one copy garnering $520 in bids with eight days remaining (as of this writing). So if you want a piece of history, be prepared to empty out your piggy bank.
For those of you who’d rather experience the Alamogordo landfill excavation for a cheaper price, be sure to log in to Xbox Live on November 20 to stream a free download of Atari: Game Over, a Microsoft-produced documentary that explores the history of Atari and this Spring’s big dig.
Director Zak Penn has confirmed (via Twitter) that the Atari: Game Over documentary will make its Xbox Live debut on November 20:
Atari: Game Over premiering Nov 20 on XBOX #ataridoc
— Zak Penn (@zakpenn) October 31, 2014
Atari: Game Over will tell the story of the game company’s downfall, with a particular focus on E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, which was the subject of a massive dig in an Alamogordo landfill back in April. During the dig, Penn and his team discovered a treasure trove of Atari 2600 titles under the dirt, confirming a long-held belief that the company trashed thousands (perhaps millions) of copies of unsold games.
With the recent closure of Xbox Entertainment Studios, the film has the distinction of being one of the first (and one of the last) film productions created by Microsoft.
Spoiler Alert! When Microsoft went digging in the desert this past April, they found the fabled resting place of thousands of Atari 2600 cartridges (including hundreds of copies of E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial). Over the years, many people tried to pass off the mass burial as some kind of hoax or urban legend. But the truth was never really in doubt. Atari had trouble selling their games during the Christmas season of 1983 and trucked their unsold stock to a landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico.
So instead of focusing solely on the dig, Zak Penn’s documentary, Atari: Game Over, also looked into the culture of the company at the time and how the then biggest movie of all time could produce such a lousy tie-in game. This includes conversations with Atari executives, local politicians from the Alamogordo area, game historians, and the developer behind the infamous game, Howard Warshaw.
If you were in attendance at San Diego Comic-Con this weekend, you had a chance to see the premiere screening of Atari: Game Over for yourself. The rest of us will have to wait until this Fall, when it debuts on Xbox Live as one of the first (and last) Xbox Entertainment Studios offerings. For now, we’ll have to content ourselves with the trailer embedded above.
What was once a rumor became truth last month, when copies of the infamous Atari 2600 games, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, were recovered from a landfill in New Mexico. According to Polygon (who also posted that awesome image above in another article), 100 copies were given to Lightbox and Fuel Entertainment (the production companies producing a documentary on the dig); 700 copies will be appraised, certified, and put up for sale; and the rest will be distributed to local museums. About 1,300 copies in total were removed from the site, and not all of them were E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.
Susie Galea, the mayor of Alamogordo, said that the New Mexico Museum of Space History is going to help prepare the games for sale, which will include registering them and giving them a certificate of authenticity. The method of sale has not yet been determined. Galea also said this has been a boon for the small town, and that she hopes the city commission will turn the site of the dig into a tourist attraction.
There are still over 700,000 cartridges in the landfill, but those will not be recovered as Galea said they were too difficult to get to. Original estimates put the cartridges at 18 feet down, but instead, the dig team had to go to 30 feet. “We’re going to leave the remaining games as-is,” Galea told Polygon. “The hole has already been filled back in.”
What would you pay for a piece of video game history – living proof of the bungles of the great video game crash?
While it was long suspected that millions of E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial cartridges were buried in an Alamogordo, New Mexico landfill after the great “Video Game Crash of 1983” an Xbox-sponsored dig has finally proven that the failed console company did indeed bury a variety of unsold cartridges in the desert. Historical sources (such as The New York Times) stated the mass burial as fact at the time, but over the years, a number of former Atari executives denied (and occasionally, confirmed) that the cartridges had been discarded.
Today’s dig is part of a planned documentary due to be distributed through Xbox Live by the newly-formed Xbox Entertainment Studios. Zak Penn, the co-writer of X-Men: The Last Stand and The Incredible Hulk is leading the dig as well as directing the documentary.
Before the dig began, Penn told IGN: “Other than garbage and the truth, I have no idea what we’ll find. I think that’s what’s exciting, we won’t know exactly what’s down there until they start digging.”
Well, now we know (knowing is half the battle). One of video gaming’s great urban legends is a legend no more. It is truth. And that’s kind of awesome.
One of gaming’s greatest mysteries, the mass burial of E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial cartridges, will soon be solved – and only on Xbox. A documentary series, set to film in January, will attempt to unearth these fabled games from the New Mexico landfill in which they supposedly reside. The documentary will be exclusive to the Xbox 360 and the Xbox One as part of Microsoft’s original programming initiative, and will air sometime in 2014.
For those of you who are not aware, here’s the skinny:
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial for the Atari 2600 is largely considered as a major contributor to the great video game crash of 1983. The game was an awful mess, and millions of copies went unsold. Then, in the middle of the night, Atari drove several garbage trucks full of the game to the small town of Alamogordo, New Mexico, and buried them in a landfill.
So are they really there? We’ll all (well, those of us with an Xbox console) find out together next year when filmmakers Jonathan and Simon Chinn and director Zak Penn go in search of E.T.’s last home.