It was recently announced that a New Mexico landfill, where it is thought that millions of old copies of the infamously bad E.T. Atari game are buried, is set to be excavated. This could either be a great boon to the video game industry, totally harmless, or a terrible nightmare. Let me explain.
So a little backstory, first. Zak Penn, the writer for X2 is directing a documetary series about the rise and fall of Atari, exclusively for the Xbox 360 and Xbox One. After production company Fuel Entertainment struck a deal with New Mexico Environment Department to excavate the landfill site where millions of copies of E.T. are thought to be buried, it was announced that the first episode of this series would focus on said unearthing.
Now, there's a long list of hurdles that could lead to this whole endeavor being, frankly, a big waste of time and a huge disappointment. Firstly, there seems to be some speculation on whether or not all those E.T. cartridges where even buried there. Beyond that, what's the point of digging them up? After all these years, it's highly unlikely that the games would even function at all.
Now, let's say that there are millions of copies of the game buried there. With that many cartridges, I guess it's possible that at least some of them might work. Well, if that's the case, then one possibility is that these games can then be entered back into the world, as preserved, functioning reminders of a time gone by, a world that was. Ever-lasting relics from the past that can serve to remind us of the dangers of shoddily produced tie-in games.
Of course, there's the fact that Microsoft and the NMED have opened up the excavation to the public. I don't know how they plan on managing possible copies of the game that they unearth, but needless to say that if some of these members of the public get their hands on some, it could lead to a rather ridiculous situation.
It's no secret that the used video game market, especially for older, hard to find games, is an absurd market. Even the crappiest copy of Earthbound goes for no less than $100 on eBay. You can imagine what the asking price for a game as infamous as E.T. might be. All those poor rubes spending ridiculous sums of money to own a piece of history... that's also a very bad game.
There's also the possibility that unearthing the cartridges could just make everyone's face melt, like the ending of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Just saying.
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