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Read This: The guy who made that awful E.T. Atari game explains himself

Cover of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. (Image: Atari)

Everybody has something from their past that they’re not scrambling to include on their resume. Howard Scott Warshaw created one of the most successful games released for the Atari 2600, Yars’ Revenge, but that grand achievement is unfortunately more of a footnote in his personal history. Sadly, he also made the E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial game for the same console, which is not only considered one of the worst video games in the history of the field, but it is also widely believed to be a significant factor in the North American video game crash of 1983.

Warshaw talked with the BBC about this blemish of his personal history for a recent feature story, and it certainly was a sore spot. In fact, his failure had such a dramatic impact on his psyche that he left the video game industry entirely to try his hand at real estate.


The story also paints Warshaw as a sympathetic figure, a bright young game designer who got stuck in an unfortunate situation: He had a mere five weeks to complete a game that would have millions of dollars in marketing behind it, whereas it routinely took Warshaw somewhere in the neighborhood of six to eight months to churn out a respectable product.

He was by no means put in a position to succeed, but regardless of the wrecking ball that bears his name, Warshaw, in a way, looks back fondly on E.T., saying, “I actually prefer it when people do identify it as the worst game of all time because I also did Yars’ Revenge and that’s frequently identified as one of the best of all time. So between the two, I have the greatest range of any designer in history!”

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