Why People Love Old-School Video Games


Why People Love Old-School Video Games


Old school pixel game showing a male character facing a dinosaur.

Why People Love Old-School Video Games


Old school pixel game showing a male character facing a dinosaur.

The latest technological advances continue to drive a stream of game launches that provide a dizzying range of titles to try out. From sports video games to fantasy-themed video games and classic strategy games, there’s something out there for everyone, yet old-school video games from the 1970s and 1980s are still popular with gamers today. While online casino games continue to present the new face of old favorites like blackjack and slots, the video game industry just might be able to learn from the casino industry when it comes to gaming nostalgia and sticking close to your roots. Of course, there is a psychology behind people’s eternal love for retro gaming — take a closer look at why.

This blog answers some important questions: just how popular are older games, what’s behind this trend, and how are they influencing the latest releases?

How Popular Are Retro Games?

An old gaming console against a white background.

The simple answer is: extremely popular. Just as it’s difficult to know how many individuals play slots online or wildly popular forms of online poker, there are no definitive stats to say exactly how many people are into retro gaming. Consumer behavior and the average age of gamers do point to a strong trend.

In the US, the average gamer is now 35 years old. Since many of the most popular retro games have been around for a similar amount of time, many players around this age would have started their gaming journey with SNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System) and NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) games such as Tetris, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Super Mario Brothers. (Ah, those were the days.)

Consumer trends also give some indication of how popular these games are. In 2014, U.S. manufacturer Hyperkin launched the RetroN 5 console with five cartridge ports that support a cluster of old-school formats: NES, SNES, SEGA Genesis (also known as the Mega Drive,) Game Boy, Game Boy Color and GameBoy Advance.

At the time, there were two arrivals on the console market, Xbox One and PS4, whose launches were accompanied by billions of promotional dollars and heaps of media attention, but RetroN 5 — without a large promotional budget and with little media coverage — completely sold out before its release. What was driving the demand for this retro game console? It certainly seems that many gamers just can’t get enough of old-school titles.

Why Retro-Style Games Are So Loved

The Nostalgia Factor in Retro Video Games

The main force behind the popularity of old video games is nostalgia, drawing you back to games that stir up memories of a particular time in your life. These memories are often connected to friends, community, family, good times or perhaps a less complicated time in life. It really has a lot to do with the feel of the game. Part of the experience is familiarity — the comfort of returning to something that requires little or no effort to wrap your head around or master, and an activity that feels like spending time with an old friend. Can you remember the times you used to play Super Mario?

An example is the evergreen popularity of casino table games like roulette and blackjack which have been around for at least a century but keep attracting fresh converts. Now, in the digital age, online casinos have evolved and offer these old favorites in fresh and exciting formats, such as online poker tournaments and live dealer casino games.

According to studies on the physical and psychological effects of nostalgia, returning to good memories, particularly in times of crisis or stress, can help people cope or simply relive positive or happy times. So, playing those old PC games seems to actually benefit people in several ways. When you feel happier, comfortable, and connected to your past and its good associations, this can have a positive effect on your well-being. (It can also take you back to before adult responsibilities like paying bills became something to think about.) 

Retro Video Games Are Cheaper To Produce

Many retro gaming experiences today have significantly lower production costs, which means more affordable prices for consumers. As a result, players can enjoy these games at a fraction of the cost of many modern titles.

The Difficulty Levels of Retro Video Games

Sometimes, people just want a simpler kind of game — they just want to sit back, have a good time, and win. This is why retro versions of games that are popular today can attract so many players. In the online casino industry, for example, there are thousands of high-tech online slots for players to choose from that feature VR gameplay and 3D graphics. Yet, many players still opt for the modern variations of classic 3-reel slots.

Where video games are concerned, however, sometimes the opposite is true. More modern games are filled with hints, cheat sheets, or instructions — it’s all too easy. This can be a deterring factor for the players who look for a challenge in their gameplay experiences. With older video games, you often had to figure things out on your own, which was a challenge that made the wins that much more rewarding. 

The Timeless Appeal of Classic Games and Their Characters

Players can be drawn to classic games simply because of their timeless designs. Some prefer the deeper storylines and more captivating characters of retro games. Modern games, on the other hand, tend to rely heavily on technology to capture the attention of gamers instead of charming players by letting the design, storytelling, and appealing characters do the magic.

Interestingly, the evolution of modern gaming has even been known to spark controversy. As the world of modern gaming is becoming more complex, some developers have started incorporating more features that allow players to gamble using virtual currency within the games themselves. This has ignited some debate over whether gambling in video games should be regulated. Ultimately, the changing gaming landscape continues to provoke discussions on how these forms of entertainment shape your experiences and perceptions. Sometimes, the traditional appeal of retro-gaming is just the simpler option. 

More About Gaming Nostalgia

A quick online search shows just how widespread video game nostalgia really is. There’s no shortage of people searching for how to play DOS (disk operating system) games on an internet browser. 

Once you delve into the world of “abandonware games,” you’ll find plenty of activity around the topic online, from forums and popular podcasts to online museums that curate the history of video games, along with the tech advances and world events that played out at the time of each release.

One evergreen topic is the nostalgia attached to retro video games, with many agreeing that it’s a game’s grounding characters that keep retro fans reaching for the old titles, from Mario and Sonic to Paperboy and Pac-Man. The relationship many players have with these characters is deepened when they are played as an extension of the individual, with feedback loops that reward the person for playing a particular character. 

Some studies also suggest that certain titles may trigger even more nostalgia than a favorite toy because people tend to experience more emotions when playing video games. They also give people the chance to feel like winners or even heroes, which may not happen that often in day-to-day life.

It also has to do with the social networks that come with these games, as you may have played them with your loved ones. It can make you feel as if you’re connecting with your past self. Some games are great to return to from a fresh perspective.

How Old-School Games Have Influenced Newer Titles

Male friends laughing and having fun playing video games on a couch.

Of course, old, nostalgic games have, and are having, an impact not only on your relationship with gaming, but on the way new games are designed. Just as the best casino games have transitioned from brick-and-mortar establishments to online platforms and evolving formats, something similar is happening with retro video gaming.

This console offers players an old-school experience, with an option to use original controllers or an enhanced gaming experience with HDMI (high definition) output, filters that enhance resolution and wireless controllers.

And when it comes to the design process behind many of today’s popular titles, many people admit they’ve undoubtedly been influenced by the games of the past. For example, many think that Wolfenstein 3D, released in 1992, became the prototype for first-person shooter games. Updates like the 2015 release of Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars kept the nostalgic look but with sharper color and definition, while the 2011 version of The Oregon Trail for Wii enhanced the 1985 color palette by turning it into a full-shade range.

It’s also the personal childhood gaming experiences of the designers themselves — as well as the nostalgia they feel for certain titles — that influences the way they create today’s upcoming titles. 

Play Old Casino Games With Brand New Interfaces at Borgata Online

Whether you want to experience a new type of nostalgia or love playing the old games of the past with all the convenience and technological advances of online gaming, Borgata Online offers a whole range of exciting and fun online casino games to play. You can enjoy online slots that are themed after fun retro games such as Space Invaders. Simply download the Borgata Online app or register and play the best online casino games.