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Atari games found in a New Mexico landfill will be given to museums and sold on eBay

Atari games found in a New Mexico landfill will be given to museums and sold on eBay

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It's a story of legend that was finally proven true earlier this year: back in April, construction workers in New Mexico unearthed a cache of Atari 2600 games (including the notoriously horrible E.T.) from a landfill, where they had been buried for more than 30 years. Atari put them there during the great video game crash of 1983, but the story had never been confirmed until the excavation.

Now, there's a plan for the uncovered games: according to a report from Polygon, the approximately 1,200 games that were found will either head for museums or be auctioned off on eBay. "The primary goal is that they go into museums and the story be told," said dig site manager Joe Lewandowski, according to a recording of a city council meeting this past Tuesday. "The second is that they go into the city inventory for whatever we decide to do with them. The balance is what we will sell."

It sounds like about 800 of the games found will be sold off in three lots, with the first going on eBay within the next few weeks if all goes according to plan. There's no real estimate yet on how much they're worth, but Lewandowski said someone offered him $500 for a single cartridge. That's a steep price for a 30-year-old game that likely doesn't work, but there were quite a few less games recovered from the landfill than expected. Some 792,000 games were believed to have been buried, and the crew hoped to get 20,000 or more back — but only 1,300 were recovered. 100 were kept by a documentary team making a film about the excavation, leaving just 1,200 for museums and auction.

The games that aren't sold will be inventoried, cataloged, sealed, and have certificates of authenticity attached — interested museums will the be able to borrow and display the collections. Alongside the games will be photos from the burial site as well as recovered controllers and pieces of consoles. It's hard to say yet what kinds of institutions will want to showcase these rather unusual artifacts, but the New Mexico city of Alamogordo has already heard from a museum in Rome that wants to exhibit the collection.