‘E.T.’ and other discarded Atari games generate almost $40,000 for New Mexico town

A long-buried copy of the widely panned 1980s video game “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” fetched a new home on earth this week, earning a New Mexico town thousands of dollars in the process.

The discarded 1982 video game, once so unwanted it was one of hundreds of game cartridges dumped by Atari in a Alamogordo, New Mexico landfill more than 30 years ago, has now reached new levels of popularity worldwide. One of 100 old Atari games auctioned through eBay by town officials, the cartridge fetched the highest price of the lot — $1,537 — from a buyer in Canada. The entire sale fetched the town $37,000 from bidders around the world.

“I keep getting messages from people around the world asking me if there’s any more left, it’s crazy,” Joe Lewandowski, a consultant for LightBox Entertainment and Fuel Entertainment — the film companies that pushed for the digtold the Alamogordo Daily News. “The people that lost the bids are demanding more, but I keep telling them they have to keep checking.”

The earnings will help the Alamogordo Council recoup the more than $50,000 it cost to dig up the buried cache of abandoned Atari games. The April excavation of the site — once considered an urban legend — unearthed more than 1,300 games that Atari discarded due to poor sales in the lead up to the company’s eventual collapse.

Alamogordo will auction a further 700 of the games over the next few weeks, while the other 500 games will be given to museums around the globe.