Alamogordo Landfill – Alamogordo, New Mexico - Atlas Obscura

Alamogordo Landfill

Buried beneath the New Mexico sands are believed to be millions of copies of Atari's E.T. video game. 


While there is some speculation as to whether the story is true, the Alamogordo Landfill is said to hold millions of unopened copies of E.T. the Extra Terrestrial the Video Game which an embarrassed Atari Company was desperately trying to get rid of.

While the film E.T. is an enduring work of beloved cinema, the Atari video game which it inspired has earned a place in history as one of the worst (if not THE worst) video games of all time. The game featured a blocky, pixelated splash that was to represent the alien hero as he collected McDonalds happy meals and fell into pits. The “game” was a frustrating mix of confusing, ugly, and hard to control which led to fierce critical backlash and almost no sales. Atari, having banked heavily on the movie cash-in, now found itself in possession of over three million copies of the toxic product.

With nothing left to do with the games and looking to distance themselves from the public relations nightmare they had created, Atari is said to have simply carted up the millions of unused cartridges and buried them. According to local news sources, Atari rolled in between 10-20 truckloads of the game among other systems and electronic junk and had it crushed. They then buried all of the junk in the newly opened Alamogordo landfill. It’s said that the landfill was chosen because they prohibited scavenging, and to bury their embarrassment even further, Atari took the unusual step (at least in garbage disposal) of covering their discarded items in cement.

Unfortunately the rather extreme measure actually created one of the more famous stories in video gaming, ensuring that Atari’s E.T. folly would not be forgotten any time soon. In 2014 a documentarian, in conjunction with Microsoft, excavated the site in an attempt to recover the long dormant copies. They indeed did find the long sought for game cartridges but were only able to recover approximately 1,300 copies. 

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