The story is the stuff of video game legend. In 1982, Atari — the dominant player in the nascent field — rushed the release of the “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” game, based on the Steven Spielberg film that would quickly become the top grossing movie of all time, in time for Christmas. It was nothing short of a disaster. Widely cited as one of the worst games ever made, it was developed and approved in five weeks, a process that for any other game would take months. As you might expect, the finished product was a mess, and it became one of the biggest financial failures in the industry’s history, leading to the downfall of Atari. In 1983, it was reported that the company’s unsold merchandise —including millions of copies of the ‘E.T. ‘game— were buried in the desert. The tale passed into urban legend, and now it’s the basis of the documentary “Atari: Game Over” and the first trailer has arrived.
Directed by Zak Penn, the doc delves into the story of the game and how the ensuing disaster ruined Atari. The interested should check out this feature article by Engadget which digs up even more info, including Spielberg’s reaction to the game. “We’re presenting the design; I laid out the whole plan and at the end of the presentation, Spielberg looks at me and says, ‘Couldn’t you do something more like ‘Pac-Man‘?’ I was flabbergasted,” Atari developer Howard Scott Warshaw said. “Of all the people in the world, Steven Spielberg suggested that I do a knock-off! My impulse was to say to him, ‘Well gee, Steven, couldn’t you do something like ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’?’ But, you know, I didn’t say that. It was Steven Spielberg. In retrospect, [taking Spielberg’s advice] might not have been such a bad idea.”
The documentary will premiere on XBox this fall, and hopefully be available via other outlets not long afterwards. Watch below. [Den Of Geek]