“E.T.” Atari Cartridges Fetch over $108,000 on eBay

Nobody wanted these arcade games for sale back in the 1980s, but today? Collectors scrambled to scoop up a copy on eBay before they disappeared once again. E.T. the Extra Terrestrial is a 1982 game not remembered fondly by…nearly anyone. Why then, did one individual original Atari cartridge just sell for over $1,500? Urban legend was proven to be a reality after a New Mexico excavation in April 2014 and now classic game collectors view the product in a brand new light. But how did it all start?

Atari’s Grave Mistake

Atari published E.T. the Extra Terrestrial after only 34 days of production in order to ride the tide of popularity of the Spielberg film. The game maker struggled to get approval for reproduction rights and rushed the development timeline in order for the game to be made available before the holiday season, thinking this would boost sales. Regrettably, this move backfired big time.

The game was met with extreme dissatisfaction from critics and gamers alike. Most people still refer to the game as the worst ever created. Besides proving that quality should always take precedence over speed, this immense product failure is thought to have seriously contributed to the video game industry’s crash in 1983 and was the sole reason Atari was sold by its parent company in 1984.

So what did Atari do with the thousands of games it couldn’t sell? Rumors circled for decades that Atari had buried thousands of cartridges in New Mexico. Even though the company would never confirm or deny this claim, excavators literally uncovered the truth last year. They discovered over 1,000 copies buried and sold 900 on eBay for a combined total of over $108,000. The money earned was donated to the Tularosa Basin Historical Society and the town of Alamogordo, or was used to subsidize shipping fees to buyers around the world who all wanted a piece of unearthed video game history.

The excavators are saving a few hundred copies of the game until they make a decision on whether to sell the remainder, after already donating copies to museums. Stay tuned to find out if they decide to list additional copies on eBay, but be ready to bid quickly. Copies of the world-renowned worst video game of all time are selling fast and they’re selling at a premium.