In recent years, we have seen a real resurgence in retro gaming’s popularity. It seems as though modern gamers – even those who love high-definition graphics and photorealistic cutscenes – have been flocking to stores to purchase retro gaming titles.
For example, we have seen huge popularity of re-releases of retro consoles. The SNES Classic Mini, Nintendo’s re-release of its iconic games console, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, has sold over four million units around the world and many fans have posted their frustrations online saying that they’ve been unable to get them due to lack of stock. The SNES Mini sold so well that industry analysis firm NPD Group confirmed that the device was the best-selling console in September 2017, beating out the PS4, the Xbox One and the Nintendo Switch.
But is it just nostalgia that’s seeing everyone buy these consoles or is it something more?
Are the Old Games the Best Games?
The answer to that question perhaps lies in the very origins of video games and the video game industry. The first “electronic game” is said to be the Nimatron, where players would face a computer in a game of Nim – not the most immersive of things but it got the ball rolling. Even in the 1970s and 80s, video games were hardly producing stellar graphics – at least nowhere on the level that we see today – but what these games did have is fantastic and hugely entertaining gameplay features. Space Invaders captivated audiences with its simplistic, alien-shooting gameplay, Pac-Man saw people playing over and over again in an effort to hit a high score, and Tetris, the puzzle game about matching and clearing blocks, was a real test of skill.
While modern games are also massively entertaining, with their online multiplayer modes, realistic open-worlds, and super-shareable features (e.g the ability to take screenshots and seamlessly join sessions), some may argue that these games are too distracting. So some players may turn to retro games not because of nostalgia, but because of the focus on one core gameplay aspect.
Greater Accessibility to Retro Games
Naturally, many of the people who enjoy retro games today are people who also enjoyed these games when they were first released. But many of the people now enjoying them will be people who were not born or were too young to play these titles when they were first made available.
Combined, these two demographics are helping to make retro gaming popular again and a lot of that is down to greater accessibility. Even if players previously owned a SNES, they may have lost the wires and the games, but re-releases such as the SNES Mini give them a way to play those games again without having to pay a high price for replacement wires for the original console. Likewise, the recent openings of retro gaming arcades in several cities have also given gamers an easy way to play these retro classics.
The 70s and the 80s are considered a golden age for the games industry but it looks as though these titles are experiencing another golden age at the moment. For now, it’s unclear how long retro games will remain this popular, but it’s wonderful to see the enthusiasm nonetheless.