The E.T.:The Extra-Terrestrial Atari game looms large in the annals of both video game and schadenfreude history. So much so, that Xbox paid to excavate a bunch of them from the New Mexico landfill where Atari attempted to bury its shame like so much 8-bit cat shit. (For a company with a few missteps in its history, E.T. is Atari’s most humiliating chapter—employees denied the landfill’s very existence for years.)
The documentary on that excavation is still forthcoming, but the town where the landfill is situated is hoping to squeeze just a little more publicity—and cash—out of the event by selling 800 of the some 1,300 exhumed cartridges online. The Alamogordo City Council voted unanimously to sell the cartridges both on its own website and on eBay, where they’re banking on notoriety being reason enough for collectors to pay top dollar for a busted old Atari game pulled from a landfill. (Currently a factory-sealed copy of E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial goes for about $300 on eBay, with used cartridges going for as little as $1.99.) The cartridges for sale include copies of Breakout, Defender, and Centipede, as well as E.T.
The remaining 500 cartridges have already been pledged to museums around the world, including the Smithsonian. Alternately, instead of selling off the cartridges, Alamogordo could build its own Museum Of Crappy Video Games and open a string of gift shops selling chintzy Atari merchandise and blow-up E.T. dolls until the end of time. It seems to be working for Roswell…