With a documentary set to air later this month, the first of the Atari 2600 game cartridges that were unearthed from the desert this past spring after being buried in 1983 were auctioned off. A set of 100 cartridges, including a number of copies of the game adaptation of E.T., earned close to $36,500 for the City of Alamogordo, New Mexico.
Often labeled as one of the worst games of all time, it was thought to be an urban legend that hundreds of copies of E.T. had been buried in a landfill by Atari in 1983 after they wouldn’t sell. The whole thing turned out to be true, with some 1,300 copies of the game dug up as part of a documentary titled Atari: Game Over. Now the city is raising money through plans to auction off a large number of the pieces of gaming history on eBay.
While this first auction was mostly made up of Atari games other than E.T., that was the game that fetched the high prices. There were eight complete-in-box copies, albeit with the wear and tear expected after 30 years in the ground, which sold for an average of $1,400. The highest price paid was $1,537 after 42 bids. Meanwhile, 11 unboxed copies of E.T. earned an average of $653, with the lowest price at $511.
The other games auctioned made an average of $227, with the high mark being a boxed copy of Asteroids that sold for $490 alone. The city says it is still going to auction another 700-800 games, so there’s still time for you pay a lot of money for a dirty, old video game. The remaining 400 or so copies are going to museums or the documentary’s film crew.