It’s interesting to look back to see how a game was forgotten or stood the test of time. Through the years some games have managed to stay relevant despite newer titles coming along. So why are retro games such a pertinent element of gaming while new triple-A blockbusters are released?
RETRO THEN, NOW, FOREVER
Retro gaming isn’t a new thing within the industry or even the personal habits of players. While most people have new consoles to occupy their time, the PS1 or Dreamcast may be dusted off for one brief weekend afternoon. The unique thing is the growing interest in retro games and their new consumption, both as players and viewers. Even more, there’s growth in the retro market as well for titles that once only cost $40 at retail.
The first question that should be asked is what makes retro games so appealing? The easiest answer would be nostalgia. Playing an old game again after a long period often gives the player a recollection of old memories. Having memories pour in is likely the usual reason why some people opt to play retro games.
Beyond nostalgia there’s an ever growing demand towards retro games today. On Twitch there’s a decent amount of older titles being streamed among current hits such as Overwatch. Older games such as Metal Gear Solid, Luigi’s Mansion, and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis are broadcast and watched by people on Twitch on a near constant basis. That may seem shocking, but it’s just indicative of the interest people have in retro games these days. Thanks to services such as Twitch an even bigger audience can become aware of what they may have missed years ago.
EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN
Clearly, there is an appeal for older things since that’s just a facet of our culture. Throwback clothing or remakes in the film/TV industries are elements recycled already. But what makes retro games appealing when video games as a medium are more subjective to criticism? The answer may be that titles released on the Genesis or PlayStation are appealing since they aren’t loaded with the bells & whistles modern games have.
If anything the current, and ever growing, interest in retro games proves that power isn’t everything. No matter how many Teraflops a console is capable of it always boils down to the fun factor. Not every game released twenty-five years ago has aged gracefully since not every game is perfect. However, there are games such as Majora’s Mask or the Spider-Man game for the PlayStation, excel thanks to superb design.
There’s also a bigger demand for older titles such as Chrono Trigger or Shenmue since they now cost between $85 – $100 to purchase. Those prices may sound absurd, but that’s what the market now dictates given their rarity and growing demand. Accompanying that is continued hardware releases like the Retron 5 or the NES Classic Edition. Officially licensed by Nintendo, the NES Classic Edition features several pre-loaded games and has HDMI support. Despite the digital age, people have a desire to see the console they grew up with, plug it into their TV, and hold the controller they once held endlessly as a kid.
Again, that’s a sense of nostalgia in the truest form. But ultimately it really does speak to the mantra of everything old is new again. The popularity of mobile games, with their simplicity, could have also awoken a retro desire within people as well.
So what’s exactly next for retro gaming? Anything is possible since Twitch is allowing people to experience games in new ways through the interaction of the service. With the NES Classic Edition what’s not to say Nintendo won’t release a N64 version in a few years? Sony could step up to the plate too with a PlayStation Classic system for the many die-hard fans out there. Given the large community that plays retro games, companies like Nintendo will continue catering to that audience while a newer generation becomes aware of the classics titles they have yet to experience.
It’s clear that retro gaming isn’t a small sub-niche anymore and that a higher level of consumer products are surfacing. Once a novelty product hidden on a shelf at Target, retro console hardware could be the next big boom within the industry if executed correctly. Will we see a retro hardware boom happen immediately? Probably not, but the popularity of Sony and Nintendo’s digital storefronts ensure people have a steady selection of retro games to choose from.
Retro gaming serves as a curation of sorts for the history of gaming. Whether on a physical or digital format it’s this interest which keeps gaming strong through the decades. It’s wonderful that people have outlets such as Twitch or the PlayStation Store to delve into and see what they missed many years ago. Best of all, the continued interest in retro gaming ensures that games won’t be forgotten; they’ll just live on in different ways.