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Atari: Game Over! trailer reveals what happened to ET

Tom Morgan
30 Jul 2014
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Atari's failed ET game and the thousands of buried cartridges in the New Mexico desert are the subject of Zak Penn's Xbox One documentary

The trailer for Zak Penn's documentary Atari: Game Over! has arrived, ahead of its premiere showing on Xbox One consoles this autumn. The Microsoft-funded documentary aims to find out what happened to the millions of unsold ET game cartridges that Atari was forced to get rid of following abysmal sales and customer complaints, amid rumours they had been buried en masse in the New Mexico desert.

One of the video game industry's biggest commercial failures of all time, Atari's video game adaptation of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was a rush-job, completed in just five weeks to meet the lucrative Christmas season and tie in with Steven Spielberg's feel-good family film about the lost alien trying to get home. In the course of charting the game's history, filmmaker Penn talked to many of Atari's executives, developers and other industry insiders, culminating in an archeological dig to discover whether the cartridges truly had been dumped in the desert.

Based on the trailer, the film also appears to take a close look at Atari's boom years, where it was arguably the most successful games company in the world with a massive budget and a party lifestyle. Using a combination of archive footage, talking heads and on-site reporting, Penn is clearly passionate about the subject matter and eager to set the record straight regarding a rumour that became industry legend.

We don't want to spoil the ending for you (in case you've managed to avoid the spoilers so far), but you won't have long to wait to find out. Atari: Game Over will be available to stream by Xbox Live Gold subscribers on Xbox Video later this year.

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