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This question about E.T. is currently on hold for being primarily opinion based. Should it be reopened?

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    I think OP wants to know why the hMe had no sucess on the market (got perceived as bad). This is something measurable and calculatable and is not based on prrsonal opinion. Better rewrite that question so it gets clear – BlueWizard Jun 15 '15 at 21:25
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    Question - as a point of curiosity, what effect would reopening the question have, other than the ability to add more answers? – Ben Jun 16 '15 at 13:33
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    @Ben it sets a precedent by showing that that question was acceptable and valuable. Leaving it closed also sets a precedent that such questions are not acceptable and not valuable. – Mike R Jun 16 '15 at 13:38
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    @Ben - also worth mentioning - generally question closure is a transistory state - either the question is improved & reopened, or it gets deleted. Duplicates can be an exception to this as they serve as 'signposts' leading to the canonical question – Robotnik Jun 16 '15 at 14:49
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    @Ben The big effect, other than allowing new answers, is that a closed post is eligible deletions in more ways than an open post. As it stands now if the post was unlocked it could be either be deleted instantly by a moderator (users with ♦ after their names) or by three 10k+ reputation users voting to delete it. If the post is unlocked and reopened then only a moderator could delete it. Also, if the question is deleted so is your answer, and you'd lose the rep for it. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/5221/… – user86571 Jun 16 '15 at 14:51
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    Status completed? – Ben Jun 18 '15 at 1:38
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It absolutely should be opened.

Frank and I discussed this on the question at large before the comments were deleted. To reiterate everything that was said there would be cumbersome, so I'm just going to address the concerns that were raised on this meta:


Answering it would be done with nothing but guesses.

Not true at all. There are plenty of official sources & quantifiable data/resources backing them up to make an informed post.

While there are sources close to the story that would help support an opinion of why it was bad, there is no factual basis in those sources. It's just opinions of what they thought was the issue.

The sources 'close to the story' include the then-CEO of Atari, and the developer of the game, Mr Howard Scott Warshaw. They provide facts which can be backed up empirically if needed, For example, Warshaw was only given 5 weeks to complete the project, when the average game took 6 months to develop, as stated in an interview he gave:

The problem was the negotiations for the licensing took a long time. The deal was completed in late July and Atari wanted the game out by September 1st in time for the Christmas shopping season (Ed.: The game actually reached shelves in December. According to the V1N4 issue of Atari Age, manufacturing took 10 weeks.). This allowed about 5 and ½ weeks for development time!

There is no proof that leads to an objective and definitive answer.

Correct, there's no 'one thing' that proves E.T. is a bad game. However, there's a lot of evidence that points to it. Just because something can't be perfectly proven does not imply that it isn't true or that you shouldn't believe it. Just as you can't be sure that your lungs exist, or that the earth orbits the sun, there's a certain point, -for any empirical truth- where you must accept that a certain level of evidence is good enough.

Those sources are privileged information, as it comes from the developer and publisher, and we have an explicit close reason for questions that require privileged information in order to answer.

No, the problem there is the 'privileged information' part. That close reason stems from the idea that 'only the developer or publisher would know the answer', which doesn't apply here - Atari's budgetary/sales data, public statements, number of copies sold, number of copies returned, the dump location etc - this is all un-privileged information, information readily accessible and open for collating and interpretation.

The skillset required to answer the question does not play to our strengths...

Ironic, but this is an opinion about the users of this site. 'Gaming History', for want of a better term, is actually one of my strengths, I spend a lot of time learning about, reading up on, and playing old games. Although Gaming History may not be everyone's strength, I doubt I'm the lone history enthusiast in this community. We shouldn't be so presumptuous to assume to know what strengths every other user on this site may have.

...it's about searching the whole of the internet to support your opinion of why or why not the game was bad.

Just like practically every other question right? When we link to the Minecraft Wiki, or a YouTube video, or an Achievement guide, walkthrough, ancient tome, bible passage, cavemen drawing and so on, we're providing facts, sources and references for our answers. That's the entire point. Remember the text from the close reason:

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise

Some degree of opinion. Some. As in, "Based on the evidence I've presented, My opinion is X." This is what qualifies as an expert answer. Take out the opinion and what've you got? a link to the Wiki. And if that's all we're going to do, just copy Wiki and game guides verbatim without providing our expert insights & opinions, then why shouldn't Arqade just give up on Q&A and maintain lists of useful resources?

Whether a game is bad or not is a very personal, subjective opinion.

Subjective: based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinion

Sure, its subjective, but it can be answered in a way that draws from the experience of many people. It's certainly not 'personal'; as stated earlier, answers can be backed by hard data. this isn't the issue here however. The question does not state that the game is bad, it states that a documentary calls it bad, and is wondering why that is. It's asking for a critical response to an assumed truth.

Tangent: Also, there is such thing as good subjective:

  1. Great subjective questions inspire answers that explain “why” and “how”.
    • There isn't one thing that contributed to it's bad reputation. Explaining all the things that did, and how it got to that place is the fun part.
  2. Great subjective questions tend to have long, not short, answers.
    • if it's half as long as this answer turned out to be, it's probably a good answer.
  3. Great subjective questions have a constructive, fair, and impartial tone.
    • The question cites a documentary that lists the game as 'the worst' game, and asks why the reputation of the game is that it's 'bad'. This seems pretty impartial to me
  4. Great subjective questions invite sharing experiences over opinions.
    • The experiences of the developer, the CEO of Atari, many reviewers, etc etc.
  5. Great subjective questions insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references.
    • Covered in points made above and below. There are plenty of facts & references, denying them doesn't make them go away.
  6. Great subjective questions are more than just mindless social fun.
    • "What's your favourite FPS?" fails this. "What factors contributed to E.T's reputation as a bad game?" does not.

That's why we have reviewers with wildly differing interests, and two reviewers giving the same game completely different scores.

And this is why we aggregate review scores for a vast number of reviewers over a large spectrum of the industry. If one person says it's bad, that doesn't mean anything. If thousands of people are say it's bad, then it's probably bad. You can still like the game even if thousands of people disagree with you. Write an answer, prove them wrong, prove that E.T. was a masterpiece of a game, based on expertise, facts you've collected. Find evidence of it being a sales success and a huge boon to Atari.

We regularly discount opinions of reviewers we don't agree with.

We also regularly collate multiple sources in an attempt to balance them out. See above.

This question is just going to lead to arguing of answerers being right or wrong.

Post Hoc ergo Propter Hoc. People argue whether an answer is right or wrong all the time. This isn't going to magically change for this question and isn't grounds for closure.


In conclusion, the question doesn't focus on opinions. Cold-hard-facts, sources and references exist for this question. We don't need 'proof', we need evidence, and readers can draw their own conclusions based on the facts we present. There is no one thing that gave E.T. it's bad reputation, but there sure as hell is a lot of evidence to support it.

Addendum: Denying the first-hand accounts, public sales figures, economic assessments, published studies/papers, aggregated review scores (not just one or two), official press releases, and public statements as facts, references, or specific expertise, is not only ludicrous, it's dangerous, and I worry for the health of the site if people have been answering all this time without them.

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    Answer up for less than a minute, already a downvote. I don't suppose you had a chance to read it through yet right? – Robotnik Jun 16 '15 at 10:35
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    +1 for well-explained analysis with examples. (It's a shame that someone would downvote this, especially with no reason provided. I can guess who it probably was but have no proof) – Mike R Jun 16 '15 at 13:20
  • The thing isn't that I'm denying the information from the developer or published. It's that we can't verify it. We're taking it at complete face value that their statements are true and factual, and I find that a very tough pill to swallow. I very much do not want questions that require us to trust outside sources in order to answer a question, and this absolutely nothing but. – Frank Jun 16 '15 at 15:08
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    +1 - I think this question falls into the same bucket as historical trivia, which we consider on-topic (even if it's not always very popular.) See: meta.gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/9818/… – psyk0 Jun 16 '15 at 18:31
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It depends. Someone already answered it. But there is a possibility that someone else might give a better answer. Does anyone care enough to reopen it?

The question requires it's answers to address "what else contributed to its bad reputation", as is partly covered in the accepted answer, the things that contributed to its bad reputation are real things that happened, not opinions.

Is a complaint an opinion? No, it's an action that someone took. It's a fact.

Are poor sales an opinion? No, poor sales are not an opinion, they are a real measurement of something.

Is the collapse of Atari an opinion? No, this is not an opinion either, it's something that really happened, not to say that the game was the cause of this, but it is something that occurred shortly after the release and so, could have contributed to the reputation that the game has.

Is a landfill in the desert filled with a certain number of cartridges an opinion? No, this is something real that happened.

None of this is privileged information.

However, any comments about the graphics, game play and storyline are certainly opinions.

It's not asking if the game is a bad game, it's asking how the game got that reputation.

  • Other facts that played a factor in the game being an abysmal flop: Atari 2600 games were normally made in 5-6 months, but Warshaw built E.T. in five weeks to ensure it was out by Christmas of 1983. A large number of the cartridges sold were sent back to the company because many consumers found the game to be unenjoyable. Atari had hoped that brand loyalty would keep consumers buying their games regardless of quality (sales projections were 5 million copies sold; only 1.5m actually sold). Citations omitted due to character limit. – sss4r Jun 16 '15 at 22:47
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    E.T. was listed as the worst game of all time by PC World in 2006, Electronic Gaming Monthly, FHM magazine, and was ranked as the second worst movie game on the "Top 10 Worst Movie Games" by GameTrailers; they also ranked it the 2nd worst game of all time. Some considered it so bad that the title screen was the only good part of the game. GamePro named E.T. one of the 52 most important games of all time due to its roles in the 1983 video game crash and the downfall of the seemingly unstoppable Atari. It's the only game to make the list for having a negative impact on the video game industry. – sss4r Jun 16 '15 at 22:51
  • Those are mostly opinions, but it supports its reputation as the worst game in history. Other historical facts that contributed to its negative reception: The lead programmer wasn't ever sober and worked on the game 24/7 in order to get it done in time for Christmas sales. ;-) Atari had a party atmosphere in those days; the saying was: "We take fun intravenously." At any rate, I believe this question clearly falls within the 6 points guiding the acceptance of a good subjective question: blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/09/good-subjective-bad-subjective – sss4r Jun 16 '15 at 22:56
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The Question received 3 up votes and an answer with 5 upvotes. That patticular answer doesnt complain about the question but explains why the broad majority disliked the game. This is a measurable things and thus is allowed in my opinion

Plus this meta post doesn't really matter because OP already got his answer because he marked thst single answer with a green checkmark.

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    Vote counts are largely irrelevant when determining on-topic-ness. This has become bigger than this individual question, and is now about setting precedent. To dismiss it is missing the point. – Invader Skoodge Jun 16 '15 at 13:03
  • This meta post very much does matter. An accepted answer is not the be-all and end-all. – shanodin Jun 17 '15 at 9:36
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    Votes show that the communit y has interedt in the topic and value the quality of the question – BlueWizard Jun 17 '15 at 9:50
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No, it should not be. The reasons for this are many:

  1. Answering it would be done with nothing but guesses. While there are sources close to the story that would help support an opinion of why it was bad, there is no factual basis in those sources. It's just opinions of what they thought was the issue. There is no proof that leads to an objective and definitive answer.
  2. Additionally, those sources are privileged information, as it comes from the developer and publisher, and we have an explicit close reason for questions that require privileged information in order to answer.
  3. The skillset required to answer the question does not play to our strengths; it's about searching the whole of the internet to support your opinion of why or why not the game was bad.

Whether a game is bad or not is a very personal, subjective opinion. That's why we have reviewers with wildly differing interests, and two reviewers giving the same game completely different scores. We regularly discount opinions of reviewers we don't agree with. This question is just going to lead to arguing of answerers being right or wrong.

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    -1. Alex and @Robotnik have clearly shown that facts about this game exist, and explain why this is a valid question. – Mike R Jun 16 '15 at 13:40
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    @MikeR Answerability makes for an incredibly poor metric for allowing or disallowing a question. Can we answer it? Sure. Should we answer it? That's not so easy. – Frank Jun 16 '15 at 15:04
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    Should we answer it? see Is “Historical Trivia” off-topic? – user61492 Jun 16 '15 at 23:52
  • @Alex - reading that topic you linked is like deja vu – Mike R Jun 17 '15 at 13:50

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