Much has been said about about the E.T. video game for the Atari 2600. So much in fact I really have had no desire to say anything about it until I came across this:
“Just in time for Christmas” is right! Famously, the game’s designer Howard Scott Warshaw was only given six weeks to hand in a full game in order for it to be on the shelves in time for Christmas of ’82. Even more (in)famous, the game is regarded as one of the worst video games of all time. No one blames Warshaw though. He did the best he could (we hope) given the circumstances. The hate is directed towards the greedy execs at Atari for forcing such poor working conditions upon him and being more interested in making a buck with a poor product than making a buck with a good product.
Problem is — they didn’t make a buck at all! The game was so bad it was returned by many, not bought by even more, relegated to clearance bins for 99 cents and unsold copies were dumped in a landfill! A loss of millions and millions for Atari who came out of this with much egg on their face after fumbling what should’ve been a no-brainer “make easy money” licensing deal based one of the most popular movies of all time. They financially stumbled their way through 1983 and 1984, losing $536 million in 1983 alone. The blow to Atari was not Atari’s alone to absorb though. Being a powerhouse in the industry at the time, when they suffered, EVERYONE suffered and this whole E.T. debacle contributed to The Video Game Crash of 1983.