Rare Canadian-made Atari 2600 video game hits eBay for $117,791
Krystle Hewitt, CTVNews.ca
Published Friday, July 12, 2019 7:22PM EDT
Canadians have a chance to get their hands on a piece of video game history with a rare Atari 2600 cartridge up for sale to the public for the first time.
It’s called ‘Extra Terrestrials’ (a knockoff of the infamous E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial game) and was created in 1983 by four game developers, Tom, Peter and Maitland Banting, and Herman Quast from Burlington, Ont., in an era where third-party cartridge development was fairly common as long as you had the knowledge and the money.
The game has recently surfaced on eBay with a starting list price of $117,791.95. The seller, who goes by the username gamewizard69, describes this as “one of the rarest video games of all time.”
“I am currently the only confirmed private owner of this game right now. The only other discovered copies are held in a museum,” the post reads.
The group was hoping to capitalize on the booming video game market at the time, but because of production delays it was only finished in 1984, according to the Personal Computer Museum.
With the collapse of console gaming, and the saturation of bad Atari games, Extra Terrestrials failed to take off, managing to sell approximately 100 copies door-to-door. Despite the commercial flop, a former volunteer at the Personal Computer Museum, which received three original copies of the game starting in 2011, said it’s still a unique find.
“When I first saw the game I thought, ‘Whoa, this is special,’” Adam White said in a phone interview with CTVNews.ca. “We knew it was something very rare and that no one had seen before.”
White has expressed skepticism over this copy of Extra Terrestrials up for sale.
“Asking for $90,000 USD is exorbitant, nobody is going to pay that,” said White. “The Atari Air Raid game sold for $31,000 USD and that one had its original box; this one doesn’t.”
One of the developers, Peter Banting, who donated his copy of the game to the museum, said he was curious when he saw the listing pop up on eBay.
“It is interesting, if the fellow gets that amount of money, more power to him,” Banting said.
Extra Terrestrials has a relatively simple game play compared to the complex video games out today.
“It’s pretty bad to be honest. It’s a two-player game where one controls the alien, and you wander across the rows and collect these little dots. It’s a sad rip off of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. The second player controls the ranger and the goal is to catch the extraterrestrial. Once he is touched three times it restarts,” White explained.
Although the adventure game may not be the most challenging for gamers, collectors like White still sees the value in owning and preserving something rare.
“I think all of this stuff has to be preserved because there is history attached to it. It’s like a painting or any creative work,” White said.
White explained he is an active member of the Atari collector community in Canada and in the United States and that people are frequently talking about the game.
He said a copy of Extra Terrestrials privately sold on eBay last year for $16,000.
White added that it’s the rarity factor and the Canadian connection that makes owning Extra Terrestrials alluring.
“It’s a strange and unique history. It could get people thinking, ‘Maybe grandma has one in the attic,’ or ‘I might be able to walk into the thrift store and get one for $5.’”
There have been 30 offers on the game so far. Currently four offers are pending and the rest have either been declined or have expired.