The History Behind ET, the Worst Video Game of All Time

The History Behind ET, the Worst Video Game of All Time

February 22, 2016 14:31 EST • Alexandre Vallières-Lagacé • 2 minute read • Permalink

ET the Game is looked upon many as the worst game of all times, and some even point to its direction for the big video game crash of 1983. We know about the desert burial, Microsoft even paid for a documentary on the whole thing on film and they did find the games. But as a fellow developer, I was always wondering how the game actually got made. Who was the crew behind it and how could they do such a poor job.

Howard Scott Warshaw is the programmer behind the game. The sole programmer who did everything, the pitch to Spielberg, the code and all. A one-man team. But the worst is that he had 5 weeks to do it, not the usual 6-8 months, just 5 weeks!

I get a call from the Atari CEO. He said, ‘Howard, we need the ET video game done. Can you do it?’ “And I said, ‘Absolutely, yes I can!’”

“I got down to Spielberg and I laid out the whole design,” he says. “I told him, ‘I think it’s really important that we do something innovative. ET is a breakthrough movie and I think we need a breakthrough game.’

This is crazy to me, putting so much pressure on a single guy to do something that was never done before and in such a small delay. It was serious business though.

“There was a manager who was assigned to make sure I was eating so that I’d be able to keep going.

Read through to learn more tidbits of information about one of the first games to be rushed because of a movie’s release… and it would not be the first game to be botched for this very same reason.