You might be able to own one of the Atari 2600 games that was buried in New Mexico

In April, a documentary team, funded in part by Microsoft, proved that the urban legend of Atari burying tons of unsold 2600 game cartridges in a New Mexico landfill in 1983 was in fact true. Now the city of Alamogordo is working to distribute the games that were unearthed by the event.

According to the Alamogordo Daily News, the event in April resulted in 1,377 Atari 2600 games being recovered from the landfill, including 171 copies of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, which was the primary goal of the teams at FUEL Industries and Lightbox. The event was filmed and will be used as part of a documentary about the history of the E.T. game that will be shown exclusively on Xbox One and Xbox 360 consoles later this year.

While some of the game that were found at the landfill will be given to the documentary team, others will be offered to local and national museums. Some of the games will also be sold to the general public and the city commission was told this week they have already been getting offers from unnamed buyers. Exactly how and when they will be sold has yet to be determined. The city commissioners were also told that there are 790,000 Atari games that are still buried at the landfill site.

Source: Alamogordo Daily News | Image via Larry Hryb

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Interesting that out of the 1377 cartridges recovered ONLY 171 were ET.... implies the 'myth' isn't really true, it wasn't the ET game to blame but rather the general downturn in gaming.

adam.mt said,
Interesting that out of the 1377 cartridges recovered ONLY 171 were ET.... implies the 'myth' isn't really true, it wasn't the ET game to blame but rather the general downturn in gaming.

You're right that ET certainly wasn't to blame for the crash. As I understand it the situation went like this. Home video games were still new at the time and many feared they were a fad. When sales started slowing down (mostly due to the ridiculous amount of games and Pong clones the market was being flooded with) the retailers went into a panic. They thought the fad was over and they didn't want to get stuck with a lot of worthless inventory.

So the stores stopped ordering new games and consoles and returned lots of unsold inventory. This caused many companies like Coleco that were already barely getting by to end up going bankrupt. Seeing companies going under caused further panic and surviving companies decided to get out of the gaming business. The whole thing snowballed and the video game market crashed. Game consoles were poison and no retailer wanted anything to do with them anymore. Consumers were able to enjoy the fire sales on game cartridges and systems which was nice though.

Edited by Bonfire, Jun 1 2014, 3:16pm :

adam.mt said,
Interesting that out of the 1377 cartridges recovered ONLY 171 were ET.... implies the 'myth' isn't really true, it wasn't the ET game to blame but rather the general downturn in gaming.

unless the 790,000 are, in fact, ET game cartridges.

quote "The city commissioners were also told that there are 790,000 Atari games that are still buried at the landfill site."

Enron said,
Any of the cartridges still work?

those cartridge are pointless without any working console,
which why we have rom-z and emulator-z these days.

Torolol said,

those cartridge are pointless without any working console,
which why we have rom-z and emulator-z these days.

What are you talking about, there are hundreds of Atari 2600 consoles sold on eBay every month. They made them from 1977 to 1992 so there is no problem at all with finding one. As for working you can run over them with a tank and they'll still work; we aren't talking about Xbox 360s here. :p

Of course there is nothing special or rare about ET cartridges either, they are one of the most common games you can find and eBay always has plenty of them. I'm guessing people might want these because they are one of the mythical carts that were buried but to me they are just dirty garbage someone dug up.

So.. did any of you got the chance to actually buy one for "free", along with the main console itself, just to notice really old leftovers about them, like different sky color, presaved naming or initials, glitchy gameplay, gibberish text, just to realize that... it's the highly acclaimed Creepypasta variation? :p

Enron said,
Any of the cartridges still work?

Well, they're about the right age for bit rot... But they're using old MASK ROMs with large traces so if they board's in tact, I'd imagine they should still work.

n_K said,
Well, they're about the right age for bit rot... But they're using old MASK ROMs with large traces so if they board's in tact, I'd imagine they should still work.

Well, there's a use of "bit rot" I haven't heard before...these are cartridges...

_dandy_ said,

Well, there's a use of "bit rot" I haven't heard before...these are cartridges...


They're cartridges that contain MASK ROMs, and yes, ALL types of ROMs including MASK ROMs are susceptible to bit rot