Atari Games Found In Landfill Net $108,000

In a case where retro has once again proven to be profitable, 900 Atari cartridges have sold for over $100,000. There had been an urban legend circulating that copies of Atari’s worst video game, E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial, had sold so poorly that hundreds of them had been buried in a landfill. That urban legend was proven true late last week, much to the surprise of urban legend and Atari fans everywhere.

The games, designed to be played on the Atari 2600 console, were sold in a series of online auctions and netted a whopping $108,000. For years, many had thought that the burial of hundreds of Atari games were the stuff of urban legend. However, in late 2014, the Atari: Game Over documentary, which focused on the dig, showed that urban legends could be urban reality.

Atari’s take on E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial was not the only title found in the landfill, however. 60 other titles, including Asteroids, Missile Command, Warlords, Defender, Star Raiders, Swordquest, Phoenix, Centipede and Super Breakout were all discovered by Joe Lewandowski, operational consultant for the dig.

Lewandowski had made his way to Alamogordo, New Mexico, to discover if the Atari urban legend was indeed true and discovered the cache of games last year. Sales of the games began in a series of online auctions, the results of which are being divided up among a couple of recipients. While shipping fees totalled over $26,000, the City of Alamogordo will receive $65,037.78, while the Tularosa Basin Historical Society will receive $16,259.44.

There are still nearly 300 copies of E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial being held back, Lewandowski said. He admitted he was not quite sure what to do with the cartridges just yet.

“I might sell those if a second movie comes out but for now we’re just holding them,” he said.

Copies of the Atari cartridges also went to museums like the Smithsonian, the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, the Hamilton Toy Museum in Ontario, Canada, and the Deutsches Film Museum in Frankfurt, Germany. Fans of retro video games such as those put out by Atari will no doubt be very interested to see that the Atari urban legend is indeed true.

The Atari 2600 release of E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial has been partially blamed for the video game crash of 1983. The game was developed in 34 days in order to capitalize on the blockbuster success of the movie, but was resoundingly slammed by critics and video game players everywhere. Atari was sold off by its parent company in 1985.

(Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)