Long thought to be an urban legend, the find includes copies of Atari's reviled E.T. The Extra Terrestrial game
Credit: Courtesy Larry Hryb

One gamer’s buried trash is another’s buried treasure.

Confirming one of the video game industry’s most notorious urban legends, construction workers have found copies of the E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial Atari game buried in a landfill in the New Mexico desert.

The E.T. game, manufactured for the Atari 2600, was so reviled for unplayability and general design, that Atari, cash-strapped and struggling to deal with a surfeit of merchandise, resorted to burying copies in a landfill in 1983. (Licensing the character’s rights reportedly cost millions, dooming the game almost from the start.)

But this story was never officially confirmed – until now. Thanks to an upcoming documentary from Microsoft’s Xbox Entertainment Studios that focuses on the video game industry, copies of the game and other Atari titles have been unearthed in the New Mexico desert, outside of Alamogordo.

The documentary is expected to come out next year. Coincidentally, it’s part of a bigger push by Microsoft to create original content for Xbox owners: The biggest project of the initiative is a live-action Halo TV series produced by – wait for it – Steven Spielberg, director of E.T.

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