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10 Out of this World Facts About Atari’s E.T. Game

T1 - The ‘urban legend’ of Atari burying thousands of unsold copies of the E.T. game in the New Mexico desert was in fact true.

Some didn’t the believe the story, but we now know for sure thanks to a brilliant excavation effort that took place in April this year. You can’t just bury the past, Atari!

Here’s 10 out of this world facts about the 1982 Atari 2600 video game.

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MultiConsoleGamer1501d ago (Edited 1501d ago )

No actually the landfill myth is not true, at least not at people know it. The sixth fact in this piece even touches upon the real truth. Read the book Atari INC - Business is Fun for the whole story. It was written by people who were actually there at the time. The ET Landfill is a myth.

It's failure also did not lead the video game crash of 1983. That's another myth. There were many factors that lead the crash. Saying one game caused the crash is ridiculous.

Fun Fact: Many of the factors that caused the video game crash of 1983 are alive and well today, and they're happening as we speak. Shovelware, layoffs, big companies with major financial problems, product confusion, dying brands, etc, etc, etc.

SpiralTear1501d ago

Your "fun fact" is actually quite true. Many of the symptoms that led to the 1983 crash are still around in today's industry.

I'd definitely add the astronomical budgets of AAA games like Call of Duty (which can lead to layoffs even after making millions of dollars in sales) and the resulting lack of job security that is pushing otherwise talented game developers to find work in other technical industries, industries where you have a much better chance of keeping your job once your project is finished.

E.T. was more a contributor to these symptoms, as it had a very large budget, one that took place during an already unstable environment of messy licensing. It was a clear demonstrator of how blown-out budgets and terrible use of licensed material can lead to consumer mistrust of the industry, and as a result, the industry's own severe damage.

However, the landfill myth was true, since it did have a huge amount of news coverage from everywhere. The cartridges were there, even if their burial wasn't necessarily because of the commercial failure of the E.T. game (which wasn't the reason the game and all of the other waste was buried).

MultiConsoleGamer1500d ago

Yeah but it wasn't "millions of copies of E.T." like everyone believes.

The truth is it was an assortment of games, and many of them were defectives and store returns. Like I said, if you're interested in knowing the real truth read the book I mentioned earlier.

gigoran1500d ago

That pretty much means the article fails. I was going to read it, but seeing your reply makes me think it would be a waste of time. Glad at least you did your research.

SpiralTear1500d ago

Exactly. The millions of copies deal is a myth. It kinda was interesting how while E.T. carts were there, while at the same time, disproving the overarching stigma that E.T. led to some gaming apocalypse in this million-cart burial.

It sort of throws the myth on its head in a way.

uth111500d ago

I agree that ET did not cause the crash.

But I disagree that the situation today is similar to 1983.
For one, there was a huge fad element to Pac-man, and that trickled over into other games for awhile. But all fads end, and when that happened, they realized videogames weren't going to have the exponential growth that they were predicting. Video-gaming is a more stable pastime these days. Gamers aren't going to suddenly stop playing videogames en masse. (although casual gamers may, and that will hurt the platforms they play on, like iTunes app store, FB, etc, and some companies/platforms may suffer from oversaturation today, but not the entire industry.)

Also what happened to videogames is similar to the dot com bust. Everybody wanted to get in on it before they understood it. After both crashes, you saw much more viable business models emerge.

Lastly, there was a huge marketing push in 1983 telling consumers that they should buy a home computer instead of a videogame system. Home computers had just become as affordable as videogame consoles, but were far more versatile. Computer gaming didn't crash at this time, it was just starting to blossom. Nowadays people own both, so that isn't a factor either.

T1Publishing1500d ago (Edited 1500d ago )

Hey MCG, thanks for pointing this out!

As an editor I have a lot of trust in this author but looks like he made a couple of crucial factual missteps here.

I've looked into your points, found them to be true and updated the article accordingly.

Cheers! I hereby reward you with a bubble of intelligence

MultiConsoleGamer1500d ago

Thank you T1! I'm glad this article was able to stimulate so much interesting discussion. Best wishes.

+ Show (2) more repliesLast reply 1500d ago
sprinterboy1500d ago

135m to make wow, some people earned a nice pay packet

Skate-AK1500d ago

I hate it when websites have their info on slides. Makes me not even want to read the article.

uth111500d ago

$125 million to develop?

That's crap. They paid one guy to develop it for 5 weeks, in 1982 dollars, so you're talking thousands of dollars at most. If they spent $125 million, then it was all on marketing and licensing, not game development.

Yodagamer1500d ago (Edited 1500d ago )

They paid 25 million for the license. A good portion of the remaining $100 million came from the 3.5 million carts they didn't sell. I don't think there are any numbers on marketing though.

T1Publishing1500d ago

No doubt you're right! The word should have been 'produc' rather than 'develop' and has since being updated accordingly. Cheers.

DefenderOfDoom21500d ago

to muticonsulegamer // you are so right that E.T was not the cause of the videe game industry crashing . In reality only "home video game consoles" crashed back then . The "arcade video games" were still doing okay and video games on "home computers" were taking off. EA started making great games for home computers back then.