Phone home!

Before Nintendo came along and revolutionised the video game industry with the NES, American company Atari was the undisputed king of the home gaming arena — right up to the point where low-quality software and catastrophic mismanagement resulted in a massive video game crash.

One of the most famous stories relating to this period is the burial of approximately 3.5 million copies of the Atari 2600 game E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. To illustrate just how badly Atari was conducting its business, around 5 million carts were manufactured — way more than could realistically be sold at the time, given the install base of the system.

1.5 million copies were purchased, and the rest were returned to Atari — which reportedly decided to dump the inventory in a big hole in the desert of New Mexico. Legend has it that the games were crushed and encased in cement, but many — including the game's developer, Howard Scott Warshaw — regard this famous tale as untrue. Whatever happened to the games, the commercial failure of E.T. sank Atari and almost destroyed video gaming as a viable entertainment medium in the west.

We won't have to wait much longer to discover if one of gaming's most enduring stories is true, because entertainment firm Fuel Industries has been granted a six month excavation period on the rumoured burial site, with plans to make a documentary of the event. Will they find anything? Post a comment to tell us what you think.

[source, via]