Atari games unearthed from landfill sell for $108,000

'Worst game ever' fetches $1,535

Updated: 
Atari games unearthed from landfill sell for $108,000

Thousands of old Atari games have sold for more than $100,000 after having been buried in a landfill site for 30 years.

The haul had become the stuff of urban legend, with Atari having denied rumours that it had
dumped 800,000 copies of unsold games in a landfill site in Alamogordo, New Mexico in 1983.

But last year, Joseph Lewandowski - who witnessed the burial and later bought the refuse company that carried it out - decided to prove that the stories were true. With a film crew watching, he dug a trench 30 feet deep.

And out came 1,178 Atari 2600 game cartridges for around 50 different classic titles. They include Pac-Man, Ms Pac-Man, Breakout, Star Raiders, Pele's Soccer, Centipede, Baseball, Asteroids and Defender.

Most notably, there were numerous copies of E.T. The Extraterrestrial, which was released in 1982 after only 34 days of development. It was widely described as the worst video game ever created, and left the company with thousands of unsold copies.

Now, the games have finally been sold, making rather more money than their original price.

Sold via eBay, the 881 cartridges have brought in $108,000. After shipping fees, the city will net about $65,000, with $16,000 going to the Tularosa Basin Historical Society.

Buyers have come from 45 states and 14 countries, with one copy of the ET game selling for $1,535. Twenty-three games went to museums including the Smithsonian in Washington DC and the Deutsches Film Museum in Frankfurt, Germany.

But Lewandowski tells the Almogordo News that he's holding a number back.

"There's 297 we're still holding in an archive that we'll sell at a later date when we decide what to do with them. I might sell those if a second movie comes out, but for now we're just holding them," he says.

There's big business in vintage technology these days - although your old copy of Pong probably won't cut it. Rarity is of the essence.

Earlier this year, for example, a 1987 copy of Nintendo Family Fitness Stadium Events from Bandai sold on eBay for an eye-watering $35,100. The game had been pulled from the shelves in the US after a deal with Nintendo, meaning only 11 copies are believed to exist.

Sales of Atari Games Exhumed From New Mexico Landfill Exceed $100K


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