An ever-legendary 1980s says Atari took out millions of games out to a remote location in New Mexico and unloaded them in the desert to be forgotten under the sand. While it is a bit hyperbolic in the resale, the urban legend is strongly based on the truth.
In the early 1980s, Atari was on the ropes. When the console's royal palace, the company's revenue was down, its new console-Atari 5200 was a commercial failure, and a series of questionable editions left them with the return of unsold cartridges numbered in hundreds of thousands. One of their worst lineup choices released a poorly executed title based on the popular movie E.T. The extra terrestrial . The game was so poorly received that tens of thousands of cartridges returned to Atari.
Instead of losing money storing the plucked title (and its other failed siblings), they pulled out to a small landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Why the Special Landfill? It was district heating, the landfill does not allow demolition, and the new debris was crushed and buried every night.
In September 1983, between 10 and 20 semi-trailers of were E.T. Extra-Terrestrial and other unsuccessful titles, along with Atari boxes and systems, were taken out to the remote site, dumped, run over with a steam roller, and then in a rather curious motion outside the normal disposal facility routine with a concrete slab.
The buried Atari slope would still exist until today unless for Fuel Industries (a Canadian marketing and entertainment company), Microsoft and others. In 2013, they received permission from the Alamogordo City Commission to conduct an archaeological excavation (April 2014) in landfill to film a documentary named Atari: Game Over . The city auctioned many of the excavated titles as a fundraiser and several ended up in museums across the country such as the Smithsonian and Henry Ford Museum.