Atari Cartridges have been discovered in New Mexico landfill



Well here's some unexpected news for the weekend! The myth that there are millions Atari 2600 cartridges, including the infamously awful E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, may just have been proved true. There is currently a team excavating the landfill site in New Mexico, where the games were supposedly buried in 1983, for an upcoming Xbox-exclusive documentary series. They claim to have struck gold, as we have the first images of their bounty so far. 

If you're not familiar with the myth, it concerns Atari, millions of unsold game cartridges and the North American video game crash of 1983. The over-saturation of the video game market with sub-par games caused buyers to lose confidence, and sales fell so much that the total revenue of the games industry went from $3.2 billion in 1983 to $100 million in 1985. Suffice to say, plenty of game developers at the time suffered because of it.

Atari were preparing for the release of one of their biggest games to date: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Unfortunately, with the game being produced by just one person with an extremely tight deadline, it didn't turn out so well. Atari were so confident that it would be a hit that they produced millions of copies of the cartridge, most of which remained unsold. While it's not entirely the fault of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Atari certainly played their part in pumping the market full of awful games. It's not surprising that gamers would feel betrayed when they discovered just how bad it was, considering it was riding on the success of the movie.

The rumour comes from what happened after the crash, and what Atari did to clear the now useless stock of crumby E.T. cartridges. As the myth goes, these were buried in a landfill site in New Mexico along with other Atari games and hardware, never to be seen again. That is, until this documentary team managed to get their hands on a permit to excavate the site and look for some truth to the rumour.

And there you have it. We're barely into the excavation and there are already signs of the supposed millions of Atari games. I'm sure we'll soon find out just how many there are, but the signs are certainly looking good. Time to bust out your Atari 2600 in celebration!

[images via All Games Beta]

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Chris Walden
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