An extremely rare piece of gaming history has emerged from obscurity and is being sold on Ebay. For those willing to part with $90,000 US dollars, you can be the proud owner of Extra Terrestrials, a video game for Atari 2600.
Don't confuse Extra Terrestrials with the infamous E.T. videogame, also for the Atari 2600. E.T. was immortalized in 1983, when Atari buried all the unsold copies of the game in the New Mexico desert outside El Paso. While E.T. was widely known as a flop, it still sold around 1.5 million units and the price has fluctuated between $5 and $10 in the last few years. Even this price is inflated by the 2014 excavation of the Atari dump site; before E.T. became popularly known as the worst video game in history, its value was around a dollar. While Extra Terrestrials may not have the infamy of E.T., it is much, much rarer.
The seller, who goes by gamewizard69, claims to be “the only confirmed private owner” of Extra Terrestrials. Other games do certainly exist, but many of them are in museums such as the Personal Computer Museum in Brantford, Ontario. Even these museum copies are very rare, and until the Personal Computer Museum received the game from a donor, they were virtually unheard of in the Atari collecting community.
There are several reasons why this game is so rare. The game's maker, Skill Screen Games, had a plan to capitalize on the crazes of Atari and Steven Spielberg's movie E.T. Undeterred by the fact that Spielberg had already tapped another developer to make an E.T. video game, Skill Screen Games hired Herman Quast to program a two-player maze game lovingly ripped off from everyone's favorite friendly alien movie. Unfortunately, the game was delayed. Instead of coming out in time for the holidays in 1983, it was released in 1984, just after the 1983 video game crash that the official E.T. game was widely blamed for. Skill Screen Games only produced around 100 cartridges, and sold them door to door in the area around Burlington, Ontario.
The question is: is it worth $90,000 to own a single video game cartridge? It's not the most someone has ever paid for one; a sealed copy of Super Mario Bros. sold for $100,000 earlier this year. Still, Extra Terrestrials is not Super Mario Bros. In the end, it'll be up to potential buyers to decide whether a bootleg version of a flop video game is worth $90,000 dollars, no matter how rare it is.