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Atari E.T. Cartridges Freshly Excavated

Back in 1983 the American video game industry suffered what we now like to call ‘the great video game crash of 1983’. Lots of big game companies went the way of the dodo, either losing a large amount of money or failing altogether. Today we’ve heard that the story of one of the biggest failures of the crash might just end on a positive note.

The dig team strikes cartridge.

Atari were no exception. Although the company doesn’t have a big presence in the industry today, once upon a time they were somewhat of a giant. As the story goes, Atari forked out tens of millions to Hollywood big shot Steven Spielberg for the rights to make a video game of the hit 1982 movie E.T.

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Whilst the game allegedly sold well in the first days of the release, critics and word of mouth reviews panned the game across the board. Atari promptly buried all the excess cartridges which had been bulk ordered in anticipation of the game’s success (which of course never came) in a landfill in New Mexico, with final costs of the E.T. fiasco to the company equalling around $500 million.

Archaeologists today are now in the process of excavating and extracting the cartridges from the ground, after the urban myth of the treasure trove of cartridges persisted right up until today. In a final, positive ending to the story, half of the cartridges are going to be sold off au auction, starting at $500 apiece, whilst the other half will be donated to various museums of technology and science worldwide.

There’s plenty of packaging too…

A new Xbox exclusive documentary series on the dig is also in the works, despite Microsoft Entertainment Studios for Xbox being canned. The documentary will hopefully shed some more light on the work the archaological team is doing, and what kinds of other refuse can be found in the depths of a 30 year old landfill.

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So, after the inception, creation, manufacture, condemnation, burial, legend and excavation of Atari’s E.T. cartridge, the story is finally coming close to its end. Watch this space for information on the documentary, as well as any confirmation on which museums near you will be exhibiting this lost legend of gaming’s last golden age.

Source: TechSpot 

More Coverage and Pictures: Polygon