Hello VideoGameYore readers!
Join us as we delve into attempting to figure out the release date of, “the worst video game ever made,” E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial the video game.
As it turns out, Gaming Rebellion’s podcast, The Pondering Nerdcast interviewed none other than Howard Scott Warshaw himself. If you haven’t already took the time to listen to the podcast with Mr. Warshaw, you should give it a try, it’s great! The Pondering Nerds were able to give VideoGameYore Mr. Warshaw’s direct email, which was an ultra rad privilege. For the second time, VideoGameYore was in direct contact with the person who created the video game we were researching. Although it should be known that Mr. Warshaw is no ordinary video game designer; this is the man who created E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Yars Revenge, and Raiders of the Lost Ark for Atari 2600. Needless to say, he’s clearly a major figure in video game history. He’s gotta Wikipedia page ya’ll!
Did we really use ya’ll unironically? Anyway, he replied!
ROFL, (Snort) Yars truly… (Wipes tear from eye). We’re a softie for puns, get over it.
(FYI, we’re ignoring the possibly auto-corrected oxymoronic ‘v’) Alright, so, Howard released the finished game, or ‘gone gold’ in modern terms, on September 1st, 1982. Awesome! That day was the Wednesday before a long holiday in 1982; Labor Day. When we bashed into the computer keyboard, “When did E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial for the Atari 2600 release?”, the first and second result is Wikipedia, which we’ll circle back to, the third entry was IGN. No surprise here, IGN is basically within the top 10 of any video game related search. Since IGN is… well… IGN and there isn’t any point in denying their seat in the video game world, the link had to be clicked.
Interesting! IGN states that E.T. the video game released on September 6th, 1982, a whopping six days after Howard Scott Warshaw released the game to production. We know that Atari was on a tight schedule to release the game in time for Christmas, but that claim already seems horrendously inaccurate. Back to the first result, Wikipedia, which directed us to Atari Age the website and subsequently the magazine of the same name. Then Atari Age volume 1 number 4 dropped some knowledge.
What’s up with Pennsylvania residents? Why are you so special that you get your own phone number?
Ok, so, there is no way E.T. the video game released on September 6th, 1982 as the IGN website displayed during our search. So, did the game release in December of 1982?
The above picture from Atari Age magazine is letting the consumer know he or she can expect the game sometime in December. This, unfortunately, isn’t a concrete release day. It would be a bit clearer if we had a secondary magazine source…
…Looks like Sybil is about to make Ferrigno a man.
Thank you, Internet Archive! On page 13 of issue 65 in Starlog Magazine as pictured above, shows December was slated as the release month. Ok, again, this shows the game was expected to be released in December, but not the day to expect it at your local retailer. Only if there was a weekly magazine, that tracked the top 15 video games sold and placed it on a chart…
That is so awesome.
ICYMI, Billboard, at one time, tracked the top 15 video games sold! The top 15 chart shows E.T the video game was number nine for retail sales during the week ending 12/4/1982. While this chart from Billboard magazine does not show the exact release date, it does bring the scope of release date down to a reasonable scale.
Alrighty, if we use our email from Howard Scott Warshaw, combine it with our magazine sources, and assume a 90-day production it places the game release at December 1st, 1982. We were ready to declare that December 1st was the likely release date of E.T the video game, but we had a gut feeling that it wasn’t quite right. The entire reason the game was rushed, was to be sure the game was out in time for Christmas. A December 1st release is completely in the clear for that deadline, it’s just that, in the USA, “In time for Christmas” usually means on retail store shelves the day after Thanksgiving.
*Snarky Know-it-all Voice* “VideoGameYore, Black Friday is a new retail phenomenon. E.T. the video game released over 30 years ago!”
That may be true, but even in the early 80’s, the day after Thanksgiving was a big day for holiday sales. Yet, every source we were able to find directed us back to December as the release of E.T. the video game. Until, by chance, we clicked to read another issue of Billboard Magazine which was the December 11th, 1982 issue. The article titled Games Help Boost Thanksgiving Sales peaked our interest. Thanks to Jim Bonk’s quote in the article, he attributed E.T among several other video games as important to his 1982 Thanksgiving holiday sales.
That’s substantial information! This Billboard article proves, at the time of this writing, Wikipedia is at least a week inaccurate. E.T. the video game couldn’t have released in December if retailers were selling the game November 26th-28th 1982.
In conclusion, we place the release of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial for the Atari 2600 during the week of November 21st-28th 1982. If we had to place a moonshot bet, which we don’t, but why not it’s fun, we’d bet the game released November 26th, 1982. Do you have information to prove VideoGameYore correct, or incorrect? For the love of all that is true, let us know!
Until the next Yore.