E.T. Atari cartridges finally found in New Mexico desert

"What was often scoffed at as an urban legend has been revealed as truth: excavators have uncovered the infamous E.T. Atari cartridge landfill in a New Mexico desert.

The dig was organized by Canadian entertainment company Fuel Industries in order to film a documentary about the 1983 burial of purportedly millions of unsold Atari cartridges. The excavation was officially approved by the Alamogordo City Commission and started today.

Xbox's Major Nelson, along with other onlookers have tweeted out pictures of the excavation team holding these cartridges. Some of these are reportedly shrink-wrapped, complete-in-box copies of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, which is often considered one of the biggest commercial failures in the history of gaming." - Patrick Kulikowski

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Naga1729d ago (Edited 1729d ago )

There is no telling what unholy curse these fools have brought upon us all.

BiggCMan1729d ago

That is truly amazing. I'm glad the industry was able to bounce back after the big video game crash in the 80's. I can't believe that mostly 1 game was the cause of all that mess.



Angeljuice1729d ago (Edited 1729d ago )

Videogames thrived in the 80's, C64 and ZX Spectrum were going really strong at the time (one of the best times to be a gamer) the games industry in other countries such as the UK was awesome.

It should be refered to as "THE NORTH AMERICAN CONSOLE CRASH".

If you were a gamer at that time chances are you wouldn't have noticed anything as you would have already moved on from the outdated Atari 2600.

pedrof931729d ago

I wonder if Microsoft will do that with the X1.

Mouktouk1729d ago (Edited 1729d ago )

Well, actually the 1983 video game industry crash was not caused by a single game, but this game in particular was the symbol of that failure.

In the 70's, video games were being increasingly popular thanks to the success of games like Pong, Space Invaders or Pac-Man. Many manufacturers saw there a way to get easy profits. Thus, they started creating their own consoles and developing their own games, and due to a lack of control, it was pretty easy to copy or clone a successful video game.

Manufacturers started to flood the shelves with cloned and/or low quality games. As a consequence, they were producing tons of shitty games but didn't meet their sale expectations, meaning publishers had a bunch of unsold copies to deal with.

You need to understand how the video game industry works to understand how it failed.

Let's say you're a publisher. You ask a developer to create a game, and you decide to produce X copies of this game. Then you sell your copies to retailers, and retailers sell the game to the consumers. But what happens when you produce games that ultimately don't sell?

Every unsold copy of the game is sent back to the publisher, and you have two options there: either you refund the retailers for the unsold copies, either you send retailers a new game with a discount and you get rid of those unsold copies.

This is that mentality that caused the 1983 video game crash. Due to the amount of video game consoles on the video game market in early 80's, the concurrence of computers and the lack of quality control, released games were getting worse and worse, resulting a decrease in sales.

Retailers send the unsold copies to publishers, and in order to avoir a refund, they were rushing a new game to send to retailers, and so on. Many studios and manufacturers went bankrupt.

ET was just the best example of that era. Atari produced tons of cartridge, thinking the success of the movie would mean the success of the video game, but it mostly didn't (ET actually sold pretty well, 1 million copies IIRC, but Atari still produced way too much cartridges). And as retailers sent their ET cartridges back, Atari had to do something of all those unsold copies. According to the myth, they burried them in a desert in New Mexico.

In 1983, everyone were leaving the boat. The video game industry was no longer viable, and whoever stayed went bankrupt or was nearly dead. Nintendo developed the Famicom / NES keeping in mind what caused the 1983 crash and decided to impose quality control over their third party content.

(please apologize me if there is any grammatical mistake, I'm French but did my best to be understandable. The 1983 crash is a fascinating era and you should know that some practices that caused the crash are still living nowadays...)

tl;dr > The 1983 crash was caused by 3 factors:
- lack of morality / quality control;
- a huge flood of games and consoles;
- the video game ecomic system;

BigPappaPump1729d ago

Bubbled up for that funny link.

Mr Pumblechook1729d ago

Some secrets should be left buried.

FamilyGuy1729d ago



What are they gonna do with them, how many were buried?


And now it will be the most successful game to date when geeks buy them all up for thousands of dollars! Lol watch.

OrangePowerz1729d ago (Edited 1729d ago )

It wasn't really the fault of ET. Itbwas due to the oversaturation of the market with too many devices combined with a lot of low quality games that go thrown together quickly to cash in on the rising market.

That is also one of the reasons why we got the Nintendo seal of approval and in general on consoles more strictly requirements to release games.on the platform.

Knushwood Butt1729d ago

Do retailers send unsold games back to publishers?

I don't think so. If so, there wouldn't be bargain bins.

Surely publishers end up with excess stock when they simply manufacture more than they can sell to retail.

Eyeco1729d ago (Edited 1729d ago )

It only affected North America gaming, however PC gaming, Japan, Europe, and South America were doing just fine, theres this annoying myth that ALL of gaming somehow died in 1983.

Pekka1729d ago

@Mouktouk: Retailers don't send unsold games back to publishers. Just like with all other products in stores, retailers buy products from producers and those items which they can't sell at full price ends up in bargain bins. Publishers end up with excess stock because they have produced too many games and retailers never even order them from publisher. Even these copies of E.T. were probably never in stores.

Silly Mammo1729d ago

I bought this game with my birthday money. One of my earlier lessons in buyer's remorse.

randomass1711729d ago

The crash was actually due to a number of contributing factors. Arcades were still big and consoles were relentless expensive for much less graphical fidelity. I think people blame it on ET because it was just such a bad game. Then came ol' Nintendo to give everyone the NES and resurrect and bring consoles into dominance. :)

GameSpawn1728d ago


I think you did a good job there. Though it should be noted that the console gaming market (capitol-wsie) was MUCH smaller back then compared to now. Even during the NES/SNES/Genesis eras the market was relatively small. It wasn't until the PS1-era that the Home console market exploded and became HUGE (hundreds of millions of consoles and possibly billions of copies of software sold).

As such the size of the market has become somewhat self-sustaining with checks and balances to prevent over-saturation from too many consoles (arguably one of the biggest contributors to the crash in the '80s). It is very difficult for a 4th console to become successful to live alongside the other three. Hell even the 3rd console usually has to scrape by with whatever fate hands them.

Floods of bad software (read shovelware) were detrimental in the '80s because the market was smaller and there was more to loose. Now, that is just not the case (just look at the amount of shovelware on the Wii). Publishers have gotten so big now that 10-15 shovelware games, no matter how bad they sell, don't make a dent in the publisher's operational costs and are usually floated by even one mediocre game selling remotely well not even considering super successes of AAA titles.

The only way for the market to crash again is for all three major players (Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft) to make ludicrously STUPID decisions all at the same time. The market has reached the point where 1 out of 3 could completely fail and the market would be unphased, and 2 out of 3 could fail and the market would survive long enough for at least 1 minor player (new entry to the market) to rise in the ranks to become a major player.

UltimateMaster1728d ago

Here's the good thing about physical copies.
When they suck, I can bury them or resell them.
When I download them, I lost my money 100% and stuck with a sh*tty game until i delete it, but still lost my money.
My concern is that everyone buys digitally and the publishers don't give a damn, they have our money and gives us crappy unfinished games in return.

UltimateMaster1728d ago (Edited 1728d ago )

Shovelware or not, they aren't as bad as ET...
Nintendo had that Seal of Quality, it's the reason why games were great back in the day.
It prompted consumer confidence to buy the console.

These days, with HD gaming, the industry does not even try to take risks.
We barely got a few new IPs and most of them are Indies.
But you know there will be another Call of Duty, Another Assassin's Creed, Another Skylander, Another [Insert your yearly franchise here] that isn't anything different from the previous one.

+ Show (15) more repliesLast reply 1728d ago
PeaSFor1729d ago

Naga, E.T spirit is now free roaming on this earth, may the old and new gods help us all!

ChozenWoan1729d ago (Edited 1729d ago )

Forget "Collectors Edition" of games...
The new hot item on the market is......
!!!!!"Compost Edition"!!!!! games

Now if only they could find all those EV1s GM got rid of.

Soc51729d ago

They're heeeeerrrre!

SegaSaturn6691729d ago

What are they talking about? This is clearly the work of Walter White!

+ Show (2) more repliesLast reply 1728d ago
Metallox1729d ago

Did they find million of copies or just a few? ? I'm looking for the information but I can't find anything useful :/

Dudebro901729d ago

They said they found tons.

Gremdude1729d ago

Read the article. They said "lots" and the pics shows a handful of cartridges--many of which are not even ET. I smell MS BS.

Soldierone1729d ago

It's a whole bunch, but it isn't just ET, it's all kinds of Atari games.

randomass1711729d ago

I think the number was at least a million or two. Guess we'll find out when the documentary hits the XB1's network.

Relientk771729d ago

Wow after all this time

I sometimes still play this game on Atari for kicks lol

tigertron1729d ago (Edited 1729d ago )

They've doomed us all.

I wonder if they'll all die like those who dug up Tutankhamen?

The_KELRaTH1729d ago

I'd say it's a dead cert lol

But at least they'll die knowing that ET cart became the biggest selling game in 2014/15:)

majiebeast1729d ago

They dug it up so later they can dump all the unsold copies of Kinect Sports Rivals.

ErcsYou1729d ago

Can I throw my copy of Haze in there too?


Knack was an excellent game, stop jumping on the band wagons poser.
Classic platformer with a strong crash bandicoot vibe. As well as two player with decent visuals.
Stop hating something you never played.

CoLD FiRE1729d ago

How dare you suggest anything remotely negative about a Sony game?

yazter1729d ago

@Monolith Knack was awful. It was generic and lacked any innovation. I platinumed that game after I forced myself psychologically to do so because I didn't want the money to go to waste (I don't sell my games)

If you like it, that's your preference, but Knack was an average game at best.

randomass1711729d ago

They should throw Superman 64 in there. Seriously.

+ Show (2) more repliesLast reply 1729d ago
thexmanone1729d ago

Leave it to the PS4 fan to troll. People like this ruin N4G