I’m sure you’ve heard the story:
In 1982, Atari and its corporate parent company Warner Communications were so blinded by record profits and institutional hubris that they failed to see the growing structural weakness in what was essentially a fad-driven economic bubble. Having scored the lucrative licenses to release both a home port of Pac-Man and a licensed game based on the biggest blockbuster of year, they compounded their errors by miscalculating the actual demand for end products that failed to meet consumers’ expectations. Unable to shift the mountains of unsalable inventory and facing an industry-wide retrenchment of operations and revenues, the company had the cartridges hauled off to a landfill in New Mexico for disposal.
Once the stuff of ‘zine-transmitted speculation and rumors, that debacle has since risen to prominence as the most infamous incident what would come to be referred to as the Great Videogame Crash of ’83.
Just because there’s a Kickstarter documentary, doesn’t mean it’s true, however.
Being something of a scholar myself, I have unearthed definite photographic evidence (from a January 1983 issue of Billboard) of what really torpedoed the E.T. game’s sales — and with it, Atari’s fortunes…
To be fair, I can understand folks not wanting to remember that holiday season when the raw stuff of hell itself stalked the mall atrium. Entombing it in concrete beneath a remote patch of desert was the only logical response.