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It looks like there’s still a bit of money to be made in the E.T. license, so long as you don’t mind said money being made on filthy, recently unearthed copies of the property’s ill-fated Atari 2600 video game. The results of a recent auction featuring a collection of the games actually netted $37,000.

It’s likely we all know the urban legend (well, I suppose it’s urban fact at this point) by now but, for those who have missed out up to this point, the story goes a little something like this: Way back in the early 80’s, a game based on the popular E.T. movie was published for the Atari 2600. The problem was that the game had nothing to do with the movie and, for the most part, it was basically unplayable rubbish.

The game tanked and, as a result, truckloads of E.T. game cartridges were driven out into the New Mexico desert and buried, as if someone was trying so, so desperately to erase the game’s existence from our history.

About 30 years later, a documentarian decided it would be fun to investigate the legendary incident and, if possible, locate the cartridges.

And now, a short commercial break.



So, as I was saying, the games were buried but not forgotten and, this year, some 800 copies of the cartridges were actually located and dug up. The whole process will be shown off in the Atari: Game Over documentary that will be available via Xbox Live later this week and, to help cover the cost of the project, the cartridges are being sold on ebay.

According to Eurogamer, the first 100 of those cartridges have already sold, netting $37,000 in the process. The highest selling copy went for $1,537; not bad for a game that absolutely nobody wanted to play following its initial release.

Another 700 cartridges will be sold at some point in the future, which should help cover the $50,000 initial investment for the excavation process. It turns out that digging up crappy games doesn’t come cheap.

Finally, for a bit of fun, here’s a look at talk show host Conan O’Brien tackling the infamous game, as well as a few other Atari classics in his Clueless Gamer segment.

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