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Video Games

Long-Buried Atari Cartridges Are Being Offered Up for Public Auction

Former Staff Writer
2 min read

Atari fans will soon have the opportunity to own a fabled piece of gaming history.

After a documentary crew dug up a trove of failed games that was secretly buried in a New Mexico landfill in the '80s, a city council has unanimously ruled that the 1,300 cartridges should be put on the auction block and donated to interested museums.

While a staggering 792,000 games lie within the Alamogordo landfill, according to dig site manager Joe Lewandowski, only 1,300 have been recovered thus far from under 10,000 pounds of garbage, reports Polygon. Among them is E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) -- often panned as the worst video game of all time and which many blame for the video game crash of 1983.

Related: As Buried Cartridges Are Unearthed, Atari Plots a Comeback

Eight hundred games will initially be offered on eBay in order to determine their value and generate interest, Lewandowski said. Each cartridge will ship with a certificate of authenticity and a document explaining the now-infamous “Atari tomb” tale.

Lewandowski told Polygon that New Mexico had already received a $500 offer for one game, while a normal (non-buried) E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial cartridge can sell on eBay for as little as $9.

But even before a sale, the priority will be distributing the rescued games to interested museums. The local historical society is working with the New Mexico Museum of Space History to inventory, catalog and seal the collection. Each interested party -- which already includes the Museum of Rome -- will be lent a handful unearthed games, controllers and consoles, as well as photos of the site and background information about the four-year excavation process.

Related: Atari Co-Founder Nolan Bushnell on Gaming and Business Growth

Meanwhile, the documentary depicting the burial -- which is coincidentally being produced by Xbox and is entitled Atari: Game Over -- is slated for release later this fall. You can watch the trailer here:

Related: 3 Things Video Games Can Teach You About Being a Better Business Leader

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