Delayed Dig for Atari E.T. Cartridges Clears Regulatory Hurdles

Paul Lilly

The search for millions of unsold copies of E.T. will proceed

Environmental regulators in New Mexico have given Microsoft, Lightbox Entertainment, and Fuel Entertainment the green light to dig up a local landfill that might contain millions of unsold E.T. cartridges for the Atari 2600 , along with other games, peripherals, and even consoles. The proposed dig had been put on hold when the New Mexico Environmental Department deemed that the initial excavation plan was too vague, but whatever concerns the agency harbored have now been settled.

We read a copy of the NMED's approval letter, which lays out a handful of conditions, one them being that the agency must be notified at least five working days prior to the dig.

E.T. is considered by many to be the worst game ever made. It suffered from a rushed production time as Atari tried to capitalize on the feature film, and while branding alone helped spur initial sales of around 1.5 million copies, word of just how atrocious the game was effectively halted further sales.

There are reports of truckloads of unsold cartridges and other Atari gear being hauled to the desert and dumped into the landfill, which has since been covered with concrete. If the legend proves true, there could be millions of E.T. cartridges buried beneath the ground.

The excavation will be filmed as part of a documentary about video game culture.

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