A Canadian game studio, called Fuel Entertainment, has sought permission to go digging around in landfills in the hope of unearthing one of the biggest video game flops ever manufactured. Released for Christmas 1982, the ET game was a licensed franchise of the Steven Spielberg film of the same name and while the film went on to become one of the most popular and best selling of all times, the game was returned in droves and considered a major flop that cost Atari, the game publisher, a fortune and it is rumoured that they buried thousands of copies of the game cartridge in a landfill site in Alamogordo.
When it comes to urban myths, the Atari ET myth was a reasonably well known one, although mostly only within the games industry. An unfortunate few, though, may remember the release of the game. Following the success of the ET film, the game was made and released by Atari but according to reviewers it was ridiculously complex and difficult that players hated it.
The result of this hateful relationship was that many copies of the game were returned and many more remained unsold. It is believed, at least by Fuel Entertainment it would seem, that Atari then proceeded to dump the remaining cartridges in the Alamogordo landfill site. The company has never either confirmed or denied the rumours of the landfill games but company trucks were spotted at the sight and at least one worker claims to have seen various pieces of Atari branded items at the site.
Fuel Entertainment have applied for and been granted a six month licence to dig up the landfill and determine whether the games really do exist. This coincides with the 30th anniversary of the game.
The aim of the ET game was to collect various parts of a phone so that ET could phone home and arrange for collection by his ship, similarly to the end of the film. There were various rooms and levels that were strewn with pits and traps.
The game was released on the Atari 2600 console and the company lost a lot of money on the release. Shortly thereafter, the PC came to the gaming fore and this spelt the end of what was then a fledgling and highly niche games console market.
It is unclear why Fuel Entertainment want to unearth the games, although one suspects publicity is a massive part of it.