It has been referred to as classic, old-school or retro, but anything with a sense of the old, or a history that predates current fashion tastes has begun to make a serious comeback. We often think of retro in relation to fashion as we see the rise of mobile apps and online stores that are making retro fashion cool again.
The trend over the last few years has seen a growth in the second-hand luxury fashion market of 9%; but in addition to retro and vintage fashion, there has also been a significant growth of retro gaming in the last few years.
What is retro gaming?
There may be some argument as to the exact definition of retro gaming, as for many, anything made before the 1990s was dark-age gaming, and then we have retro. This may be a misnomer for some, in that Donkey Kong, various pin ball machines and certain arcade games had been going for a while – and still are.
Then there are those who will argue that some of these retro games are still being made today, as the market has grown to the extent that manufacturers now make games to resemble the games of old, yet may include some modern features, graphics and operation.
Retro was initially a term used with fashion and anything from last season soon became retro. However, it is a dichotomous word with a different meaning in different fields and for different people.
For the benefit of clarity, in this article retro is anything from over 20 years ago, and yes, this may seem odd to many, but the mainstream gamer is likely a millennial or younger and as such, the 2000s is retro.
The comeback being made
Retro has made a solid comeback in fashion, and it has now become increasingly popular to market products using this term. In the gaming sector retro has come to refer to those games that are either played on older-generation consoles and also those old games that are able to be played on modern hardware but may actually be old or discontinued games. With the cut-off being 20 years, this is no longer just the arcade games, and even the PS2 would fall into that bracket – a console that was once owned by over 53% of British people over the age of 35. That’s a large number of people who now earn money, and hence led to the PS5 releasing the PS2-themed version.
As aforementioned, the industry has seen a remarkable growth in retro games and the suggested rationale has been that people hark back to a simpler time, where the majority of games played were not as realistic as those made and played today. The aim is to escape reality and as such, playing games that look and feel too much like the current reality is not how we want to spend our time. The games that are making a comeback are primarily about short-term fun, where the violence is not realistic or graphic, and the main aim is to have fun.
The size of the retro gaming industry
Retro games have become one of the must-haves for man caves and lounges across the country. Old-school pinball and coffee table arcade machines have seen a massive growth year on year in the retro or old-school gaming sector. There are over 2.5 million people who game across the world and a significant number of these are looking at the retro gaming sector for their fun. It is numbers like this that have seen the industry reach over $150 billion in revenue.
The growth of the sector wasn’t predicted, but it does make perfect sense in that the games that were aimed specifically at young people have simply found a spiritual home with the adults that those young people have become.
How modern tech will extend the lifespan of retro gaming
Modern gaming technology has been and will continue to be responsible for certain aspects of this comeback, as game developers have reworked old titles and access to hardware allows some of the oldest games to still be played today. Then there are the arcade games that have become designer items for members of the same generation. Pinball, 1964 Space Invaders or Pac-Man have all made remarkable comebacks and seem to be on a continuous growth path as the trend grows. Bingo is another great example and has made a resurgence in the online casino market and is being played by younger and younger people.
Retro or old-school games are on the rise. Many in the industry believe that this is a short-term fad, but the data shows that the type of games as well as the number of games being played are on the increase. This will continue to be a growth sector in the gaming industry for the medium- to long term and is a sector worth watching.