Turns out Atari did, indeed, bury a giant cache of unsold “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” video-game cartridges in a New Mexico landfill more than three decades ago.
Yes, the game was that bad.
Excavators discovered copies of the 1982 game during a dig today in Alamogordo, N.M., in addition to joysticks, instruction manuals and other classic Atari games like Centipede, Space Invaders, and Asteroids.
It was rumored that millions of unsold units of the failed E.T. game were dumped in the landfill back in 1983. The story had been considered by some to be an urban legend, but filmmakers working with Microsoft’s Xbox Entertainment Studios on a documentary about the burial said today that they “can safely report that those long-buried cartridges are actually, 100 percent there.”
And that’s not all they found. Here’s how Microsoft’s Xbox Wire tells the story.
“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.”
The resulting film will be the first in a documentary series produced by Xbox in collaboration with Lightbox, a media company led by two-time Academy Award-winning producer producer Simon Chinn (known for films including Searching for Sugar Man and Man on Wire) and Emmy-winning producer Jonathan Chinn (FX’s 30 Days and PBS’s American High).
It’s part of a broader effort by Xbox to expand into original content, following in the footsteps of Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.
For more pictures from the excavation, check out this ReadWrite post from Taylor Hatmaker.