Atari: Game Over, the documentary about the infamous 1982 adaptation of E.T. that was blamed for the collapse of console gaming 30 years ago, will premiere Nov. 20 on Xbox Live, the film's director announced Friday.
Atari: Game Over premiering Nov 20 on XBOX #ataridoc— Zak Penn (@zakpenn) October 31, 2014
Atari: Game Over separates the truth from the mythology of E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial for the Atari 2600, one title among thousands of cartridges buried in a New Mexico landfill. The game was a rushed job, built in five weeks and meant to hit shelves in time for Christmas, 1982. It was such a disappointment (along with a terrible port of Pac-Man) that it wrecked the utterly dominant console business Atari had built in North America.
In April, the filmmakers hired an excavation crew to dig out the Alamagordo, N.M. landfill where Atari had trucked thousands of unsold cartridges to be crushed and buried. Atari: Game Over is partly about that discovery, and also about the life and times of programmers like E.T.'s Howard Warshaw, who were there at the beginning of console gaming in the U.S.
The documentary is a production of the short-lived Xbox Entertainment Studios, which was closed down in July following a huge reorganization at Microsoft that saw 18,000 employees laid off.