It is perhaps one of the greatest mysteries in videogame history: Are there millions of unwanted cartridges of Atari’s 1982 stinker E.T. the Extra Terrestrial buried in the New Mexico desert? The world will find out on April 26, when a documentary crew headed by Microsoft, Canadian company Fuel and multiplatform media group Lightbox excavates a landfill alleged to be the burial site.
The idea began with Fuel, an online interactive and marketing agency based out of Ottowa and Ontario, Canada. Last year, they secured the New Mexico City Commission’s permission to excavate the suspected landfill, and approached Xbox to produce a documentary about the event.
The documentary is set to the first in a series of shows that chronicles the rise of the digital age, and it will debut exclusively on Xbox Live.
The excavation is set to begin at 9:30 AM MDT at the Alamogordo Landfill on Highway 54 and will run all the way till 7:30 PM MDT. Among the attendees will be the documentary’s director Zak Penn, whose credits include The Avengers, and Howard Scott Warshaw, the designer of E.T. The event is open to the public, and a handful of fans who show up stand a chance at being interviewed for the documentary.
The story of the Atari burial has often been considered an urban myth. Having spent something in the region of $25 million for the rights to make an E.T. game, Atari’s hopes at hitting the jackpot with a game adaptation of one of the biggest movies of the year came crashing down when E.T. the Extra Terrestrial received horrible reviews, with many now regarding it as one of the worst games of all time. Atari had millions of copies of the game no one wanted, and allegedly chose to get rid of them by burying them in a landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico.
Although the incident was reported by a number of newspapers, several conflicting accounts have led many to doubt that the burial ever took place. Either way, the truth will finally be known in a few weeks.