‘E.T.’ video games found buried in New Mexico after ’80s flop

‘E.T.’ video games found buried in New Mexico after ’80s flop

WORST VIDEO GAME EVER?:Archaeologist Andrew Reinhard (R) shows off the first "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" cartridges recovered from the old Alamogordo landfill, in Alamogordo, New Mexico, April 26. Photo: Reuters/Mark Wilson

By Joseph J. Kolb

ALBUQUERQUE N.M. (Reuters) – Documentary filmmakers digging in a New Mexico landfill on Saturday unearthed hundreds of “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” cartridges, considered by some the worst video game ever made and blamed for contributing to the downfall of the video game industry in the 1980s.

Some gamers speculate that thousands or even millions of the unwanted cartridges made by Atari were buried in a landfill in Alamogordo, about 200 miles southeast of Albuquerque.

Who dumped the videos, how many they buried and why they did it inspired the dig and a documentary of the event by Microsoft Corp’s Xbox Entertainment Studios.

The first batch of E.T. games was discovered under layers of trash after about three hours of digging, a Microsoft spokeswoman said, putting to rest questions about whether the cartridges would be found at all.

She could not immediately provide an exact count of how many cartridges were uncovered.

The game was a design and marketing failure after it was rushed out to coincide with the release of Steven Spielberg’s 1982 hit movie “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” and it contributed to a collapse of the video game industry in its early years.

Atari is believed to have been saddled with most of the 5 million E.T. game cartridges produced. According to New York Times reports at the time, the game manufacturer buried the games in the New Mexico desert in the middle of the night.

A game enthusiast later tracked down the suspected burial site and spread the word about the location, said Sam Claiborn, an editor at video game news site IGN.

The approximate size of the dig site at an old Alamogordo landfill measures 150 feet by 150 feet off the city’s main commercial street.

“For a lot of people, it’s something that they’ve wondered about and it’s been rumored and talked about for 30 years, and they just want an answer,” said Zak Penn, the film’s director.

When the game was first released in 1982 it retailed for around $29.99, but now often sells on eBay for less than $5.

“I don’t know how much people would pay for a broken ET game, but as a piece of history, it has a much different value,” Penn said.

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Lisa Shumaker)

Recent Headlines

in Entertainment

Cosby to be deposed in sexual abuse lawsuit


Bill Cosby was expected to testify under oath in a lawsuit brought by a woman accusing the veteran comedian of sexual abuse.

in Entertainment

OPENING WEEKEND: Biopic ‘Steve Jobs’ competes against ‘Pan,’ ‘The Walk’


Here's a look at the movies set to open nationwide this weekend.

in Viral Videos

WATCH: Soldier breaks rank to hug daughter at homecoming


Top brass at a Colorado Army post are all smiles after a 2-year-old girl interrupted a general's speech to dash across the room and hug her dad, who had just come home from a nine-month deployment.

in Entertainment

‘Ant-Man’ sequel and three more Marvel movies are coming


The superhero universe will add three more as of yet unnamed movies by 2020.

in Entertainment

Carlton says there won’t be a ‘Fresh Prince’ reboot


Alfonso Ribeiro is adamant there will never be a TV reboot of "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," because no one can take the place of their "cornerstone" James Avery.