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Atari's Landfill Adventures, I now have the proof it's true.

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Because you and the myth are operating on a logical fallacy, which is that Atari buried 3.5 million or so E.T. cartridges because the game was bad. The real reason, assuming they were buried, was and has always been stated as overproduction combined with pool initial retail sales. Following onto the poor sales were reports that the game was bad, which it turns out may have been more a case that this was one of the first games you had to read the manual for in order to understand and play the game. But either way the reason for the burial was overproduction that retail didn't want and couldn't sell if they did take them, and a high cost to warehouse 3.5 million cartridges and/or 3.5 million cartridges blocking up Atari's entire warehouse so it wasn't able to be used for new games being produced and readying for shipment to retail etc. Basically it was buried for business reasons, not subjective reasons like game quality.

 

Of course they didn't bury them because the game sucked (which I firmly believe is true: the game is turdly). But what I'm wondering is did they do this as some kinda tax write-off, and by destroying them (the concrete) allow Atari to recoup some losses (not that it mattered much in the end)? Why on earth would Atari have produced THAT many carts?...is 3.5 million accurate? Is there any way to find out?

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Of course they didn't bury them because the game sucked (which I firmly believe is true: the game is turdly). But what I'm wondering is did they do this as some kinda tax write-off, and by destroying them (the concrete) allow Atari to recoup some losses (not that it mattered much in the end)? Why on earth would Atari have produced THAT many carts?...is 3.5 million accurate? Is there any way to find out?

 

As mentioned the concrete in the NM site was due to kids going in the dump and scavenging, so for safety reasons concrete was poured over it all. But NM isn't the site of the big burial, it just ended up having some publicity and ended up with the spotlight on it vs. the real location. Taking the tax write-off doesn't require destroying them as far as I know. Things can depreciate in retail packaging and sit in a warehouse forever for all the IRS cares; pretty sure about this. Now, if you then sold them and didn't let the IRS know (basically taking the write-off and then earning money on the product at a value higher than you declared they were worth to the IRS) you'd probably be in hot water.

 

The overproduction, as I understand, was due to the belief that with E.T. being so hot, Atari and gaming being so hot, and it being released before Christmas that year, there was no way they couldn't sell 5 million (the number produced). Of course businesses don't always make wise decisions, and this was one of them. So I guess 1.5 million were taken by retail up front, which is typical, and the rest Atari had on the ready for the re-orders they were expecting but which never materialized. I suspect whatever retail returned as "can't sell this crap, you take it back" ended up in NM, while the 3.5 million reserve was in Sunnyvale and ultimately it's cheaper to throw them away and take a tax write-off then to pay whatever ungodly warehousing fee for years and years until you can sell them. I'd guess that would take decades considering how poorly the game was received by critics and gamers alike lol.

 

P.S. I may be a sub-20 posts poster, but I'm no troll. Actually I know Marty from years ago when I worked at the mid-2000's Atari in Sunnyvale. For anyone who cares the location was razed to the ground a few years ago and is now a strip mall and crap. Bah.

Edited by X900BattleGrape
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is 3.5 million accurate? Is there any way to find out?

It is about right. -- Remember back then it was 'masked roms' -- bare min. was at least 1 million per production run to make it worthwhile to produce the mask and grow the silicon dies in the lab.

 

Atari is not the only one that ended up with tons of unsold cartridges due to the '83 crash, many other companies ended up with millions and millions of unused masked roms for their cartridges, for example TI, for their 99/4a they stockpiled almost billion unused grom's for all their solid-state-software for years and decades in warehouses, selling it off by inventory part number for those companies that request the unused rom's during the late 80s and 90s, and the rest was melted down in or buried and in some cases still stored in warehouses today.

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P.S. I may be a sub-20 posts poster, but I'm no troll. Actually I know Marty from years ago when I worked at the mid-2000's Atari in Sunnyvale. For anyone who cares the location was razed to the ground a few years ago and is now a strip mall and crap. Bah.

Cool! are there any used game shops in that strip mall? I would hang a sign that said, "Millions of Atari carts lie buried beneath this shop. Please, bring your own shovel, but go digging elsewhere." :rolling:

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Cool! are there any used game shops in that strip mall? I would hang a sign that said, "Millions of Atari carts lie buried beneath this shop. Please, bring your own shovel, but go digging elsewhere." :rolling:

 

Negative. This was Atari publishing support location circa 2000+ and the business currently occupying either a) the original 1972 era location and/or the 1983 warehouse location (not sure....) is the closest to the dump so they could hang a sign and say "buried under us...almost!" :)

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Just a quick update, as again I'm mainly discussing this stuff on the Atari Museum facebook group. We're in the midst of extensive interviews with Jim Heller, the person in charge of the dumping (and who has the original paperwork, photos, etc.). Based on this we'll be expanding the material on this subject in the second edition of Atari Inc. - Business Is Fun. We're happy that this update will make the content related to this topic even more accurate than it already was. I can't talk too much about the details yet until the documentary comes out because of an agreement with the documentary team (we're providing resources for it as well). It will also include photographs of the original dumpings (yes plural).

 

Regarding the five million ET carts manufactured, there seems to be a recurring myth that they overproduced carts or that amount was somehow a lot of carts in comparison to the norm. Neither is true. By the end of the 1982 Christmas season there were between 10 and 12 million 2600s in homes. ET was not overproduced. The issue was, out of the five million manufactured and sent out, 3.5 million were supposed to have been returned.

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Just a quick update, as again I'm mainly discussing this stuff on the Atari Museum facebook group. We're in the midst of extensive interviews with Jim Heller, the person in charge of the dumping (and who has the original paperwork, photos, etc.). Based on this we'll be expanding the material on this subject in the second edition of Atari Inc. - Business Is Fun. We're happy that this update will make the content related to this topic even more accurate than it already was. I can't talk too much about the details yet until the documentary comes out because of an agreement with the documentary team (we're providing resources for it as well). It will also include photographs of the original dumpings (yes plural).

 

Regarding the five million ET carts manufactured, there seems to be a recurring myth that they overproduced carts or that amount was somehow a lot of carts in comparison to the norm. Neither is true. By the end of the 1982 Christmas season there were between 10 and 12 million 2600s in homes. ET was not overproduced. The issue was, out of the five million manufactured and sent out, 3.5 million were supposed to have been returned.

Aww, man. Now my first edition will be obsolete. :P

 

As for the 5 million carts, I'm sure as soon as the public got wind of the game being a turd, many did not buy it. If 3.5 million stock got returned by retailers as unsold, I would still consider that overproduction, or at least a gross overestimation of the current market. So all these returned carts went to the el Paso plant, or back to Sunnyvale?

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Aww, man. Now my first edition will be obsolete. :P

 

As for the 5 million carts, I'm sure as soon as the public got wind of the game being a turd, many did not buy it. If 3.5 million stock got returned by retailers as unsold, I would still consider that overproduction, or at least a gross overestimation of the current market. So all these returned carts went to the el Paso plant, or back to Sunnyvale?

Probaly most of them ended up in the Sunnyvale dump.

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Let's make up our own fake quotes about what the simulated gravel and dirt is made of. Here's my fake quote:

 

"Simulated gravel and dirt made from human feces and kidney stones. My cousin works at a hospital, so expect a lot more of these sculptures."

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I didn't think anything could motivate me to play E.T., but all the publicity and debate and drama have somehow got to me. After three decades of avoiding this game I'm going to give it a shot.

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Dang. I never got past the title screen. I just owned the cart because it was compulsory, just like required reading material in school. No 2600 collection is complete without it. :P

 

Should I dare pop it in my Atari and play it? :ponder:

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Dang. I never got past the title screen. I just owned the cart because it was compulsory, just like required reading material in school. No 2600 collection is complete without it. :P

 

Should I dare pop it in my Atari and play it? :ponder:

 

Only if you are willing to read the instructions (if you do not have them there are places online) and actually give it a chance? If you are just going to pop it in and play 5 minutes having no idea what you are doing then you will just be following the lead of those who jump on the hate wagon just for the hell of it. IF that is the case don't bother as we have all heard the uninformed opinions on E.T. enough already. :P

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I read the instructions and the extra fold-out poster of hints and tips a few days ago. I happened to have one copy of each in my manuals collection. Now to make some time to wade into the game itself.

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Only if you are willing to read the instructions (if you do not have them there are places online) and actually give it a chance? If you are just going to pop it in and play 5 minutes having no idea what you are doing then you will just be following the lead of those who jump on the hate wagon just for the hell of it. IF that is the case don't bother as we have all heard the uninformed opinions on E.T. enough already. :P

 

Well said, Old School, and this is also a BIG reason why the game flopped. At the time ET came out, the Atari 2600's main player was a kid (6-12 years old) who could just pick the game up and go with it. Atari marketed the system to kids also, where as the Intelivision, for example, marketed toward a more older, more 'mature' crowd. 95 percent of Atari games you could just plug in and play. Not so with ET. You actually had to read the manual. So the double dose of making a more complicated game that was over the head of most of your game players and expecting them to RTFM gave the game a bad first impression and word of mouth, which the game has never recovered from -- even over 30 years later.

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I don't understand why people say no one read the manual back in the day...

 

If no one read the manual then what did you do for game variations? just always play game 1?

How did you know what game variation to select if you wanted 2 players?

How did you know the goal of Adventure was to find a chalice and bring it back to the yellow castle?

How did you know how to use smarts bombs or hyperwarp in Defender?

How did you know how to use invisio, smarts bombs or hyperwarp in Stargate/Defender II?

How did you know how to select your special ability in Asteroids?

How did you know what you were looking for and where to bring it in Haunted House?

How did you know how to pitch/field/bat/etc in most of the Baseball games?

How did you know how to select plays/pass/kick/etc in most of the Football games?
How did you know the controls in Space Shuttle?

How did you understand Solaris?

How did you know how to select weapons in Radar Lock?

How did you know how to make Indiana walk in Raiders of the Lost Ark? (never mind the REST of the game!)

And the list goes on...

 

I still to this day frequently reference my manuals for game controls, game variations, and what the difficulty switches are used for.

 

I guess it's comparable to the typical 'male mentality' of preferring to frig around with something and bitch that they don't understand it rather than take 5 minutes to read instructions...

 

I think the only Company that made 'plug and play' games were Activision.

Sure most Atari brand games could be payed without reading the manual, but knowing the game variations, what the difficulty switches control and whether or not a second joystick is necessary for extra controls is definitely handy!

Edited by Torr
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^^Can't proove something false through lack of evidence. They dug up some old Atari carts That's all the evidence they needed to proove the rumors of buried games were true. Nobody ever said it was all ET carts. I sure wish they could have busted the cement caps, but oh well...

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How did you know how to select your special ability in Asteroids?

 

Some of us didn't. Some of us didn't know how to read yet..

 

Not sure how I figured out how to beat Adventure...maybe my dad told me, or my uncle.

 

But ET, that must have been later, because I remember reading the manual for that.

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You are right about that but still it is a pretty nice design although I think the cartridge should have had some damage to it. It looks too good to make it seem like it was part of what was unearthed.

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Aww, man. Now my first edition will be obsolete. :P

 

As for the 5 million carts, I'm sure as soon as the public got wind of the game being a turd, many did not buy it. If 3.5 million stock got returned by retailers as unsold, I would still consider that overproduction, or at least a gross overestimation of the current market. So all these returned carts went to the el Paso plant, or back to Sunnyvale?

 

It'll be a collectible. :) Little known fact: there's already been several sub-revisions and we have a unique Atari inspired product numbering system to denote each revision.

 

Most of the of store returns as well as unsold warehouse stock went to Atari's HQ to be disposed of. We have confirmation on the location from Jim Heller, and it's something that was going on before the El Paso dumping.

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Meh, bogus sueveneers.

 

As for the manual crap, most games only needed a lookup table for the variations. Funny how so many games had literally dozens of variations to extract additional replay value.

 

In the NES days, it was mostly A= jump, B= run, shoot, attack, and some of the more advanced games like Kirby's Adventure had in game tutorials during attract mode, although some strategic games you had to have a manual.

 

Then came the 16-bit fighters with six action buttons and over-the-top button combinations...

 

Atari did a lot with it's one button.

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I never understand why so many VCS and NES games on ebay are without box and instructions. Why would you throw away the instructions? And the box which keeps the cart neat and protected?

It's like buying a vinyl record and throwing away the sleeve.

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