It's long been rumored that there were millions of copies of an Atari video game, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, buried in the New Mexico desert. But the rumor seemed so bizarre that it was often dismissed as an urban legend.
The story goes that back in the early 1980s Atari developed the game as a tie-in with Steven Spielberg's movie. But game designer Howard Warshaw was given only five and a half weeks to create it in time for Christmas, and as a result, the game turned out to be awful. Reviewers panned it, and consumers didn't buy it. Atari took a huge loss on the game, leading to a massive devaluation of its stock. The awfulness of the game is even credited with triggering the video-game market crash of the mid 1980s. The game quickly acquired the reputation (whether deserved or not) of being the "worst game ever" and the "game that almost killed the gaming industry".
Atari was left with millions of unwanted copies of the E.T. game. So, it was said, in 1983 they took all the unsold copies of the game, buried them in a landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico, and made sure no scavengers could get them by pouring concrete over them all.
The dumping was reported by newspapers at the time. But over the years, the story acquired the quality of a legend, and some began to doubt the veracity of this E.T. Graveyard.
But it looks like the reports have been largely confirmed. An entertainment company which plans to make a documentary about the burial was recently given permission to dig at the landfill. And within hours of starting the excavation, they found copies of the E.T. game, as well as other old Atari games.
There are articles on wikipedia about both the E.T. game itself
, as well as the E.T. burial
. And IGN has posted a video of the excavation
on their website.