After the company faced its "corporate shame", it was left with millions of copies to deal with
The legend of the E.T. games was one phenomenon which was talked of over and over again and till today it had remained as one of the most important annals of the video games world. After the film by Steven Spielberg became an instant hit, Atari cleverly gained the license to the franchise and the product quickly reached the markets. It had only taken six weeks for the product to reach the shelves after the contract had been signed. This was just mind blowing because as revealed by Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, the production for an Atari 2600 usually took about 5 months. This pretty much explains why the E.T Atari video game was considered to be the worst by many and it was definitely not a competitive product.
Sales of the video game were pretty good at first, with the full hype of E.T but later on they took a sharp fall and Atari was left with millions of copies of the game along with half a billion dollars of loss. This most possibly marked the beginning of the end of the company. As Johnathan Chinn, the co-president and producer at Lightbox states, the company had to get rid of these to put away the “corporate shame” along with them.
ALAMOGORDO, N.M.- ”The challenge was clear: Even if thousands, or perhaps millions, of Atari E.T. games were buried in the old landfill here, that meant Joe Lewandowski would have to dig the right 400-square-foot hole in a 300-acre dump to find them. There would be no second chance.”
It is rather surprising that many people had been debating as to where the games were dumped. According to Fuel's Daniel Schechter, every sign was pointing towards New Mexico and yet people couldn’t see that. It was also quite evident from the September, 1983 article in The New York Times about Atari burying "14 truckloads of discarded game cartridges and other computer equipment at the city landfill in Alamogordo, N.M." When the digging process began, nobody was sure as to whether or not they will hit the games at the bottom or not. However, all debate was put to rest when an E.T game was recovered from the dump.