Ever wondered why the NES Classic Edition was so popular? Why so many people are playing World of Warcraft Classic? Or why it seems that Arcade Halls are popping up everywhere? How come these retrogames are still so popular?
33 million players
One of the most popular games of the past months, according to various websites, has been World of Warcraft Classic. Even the dutch newssite NU.nl had an article about it, and for our non-gamer-country, this is rare. 33 million people played one the game by Blizzard, the company behind World of Warcraft. That’s 0.5% of the world population! The success of this retro-version of this game (I’ll talk about this later) falls in line with the recent success of the NES Classic Mini and later the NES Classic Mini: Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The NES CLassic Edition console sold out, selling 2.3 million copies in just three months. And even if you don’t want to spend your money on the original (well, more a re-printed version) there are plenty of rip-offs going around offering the same ROM’s. And to be honest, I couldn’t resist those Facebook Ads and bought one of the rip-offs too. It’s greatly satisfying :-).
So what makes these retro games so popular? One reason is that modern, full priced games can be very overwhelming for less experienced gamers. etro games are easier to jump into than their more complex counterparts. Even for me (and I consider myself an experienced gamer) it was really overwhelming when I tried to jump back into the current state of World of Warcraft. Jumping in at level 100 is really different from starting out your new character at level one, fully experiencing the game.
Older retro games had little to no story. You could just jump into action, hit some buttons, and be done. For me, there’s rarely a time when I feel like putting hour upon hour into a single game. Now, when I feel like playing a video game, I just want to play something I can fire up quickly. Classic arcade games don’t require the sort of time commitment modern games do.
Retro-games were games you could actually finish in a reasonable amount of time. No DLC’s, no updates, you just bought the game, played it for a few hours (or a few dozen hours, depending on the game) and then you’d actually reach the end. They are a complete experience that won’t change in any way after you plug it into the machine.
So what are other reasons people still play retro games?
In a poll on our Facebook group, 14% of the people say that some old skool games are more awesome than current new releases. But the biggest group, 86%, just want to play games from their childhood again… Nostalgia is a huge reason for people to play retro games.
Consider the age of the average gamer, which is somewhere in the range of 34 to 36 years old. About half of all gamers (give or take) are in their mid thirties or older and you can bet a huge portion of this demographic grew up playing video games on the early consoles like Nintendo, Sega and Playstation.
Personally, I have great memories of staying up late with my niece playing MegaMan 2 and writing down the passwords for the different levels we completed so we didn’t have to start all over again. It’s not a surprise that many want to relive those memories and remember the good old days when games were games and nothing ever sucked… However when attempting to relive these games, you’ll realise memories are misleading. The classic titles were not perfect and many probably return to modern games.
Split screen and LAN are uncommon these days. Older games had the split screen and LAN capability to play with your friends at home. Today you need to have two copies of the same game, two consoles, and sometimes even pay for online connectivity in order to play with your friends. The Nintendo Switch in that regard is even worse than their 8-year-old counterpart Nintendo 3DS, where you could play online multiplayer games even if just one of you had a copy of the game. Nostalgia kicking in again: playing Need For Speed with my brother, him playing with the arrow keys and me playing with WASD, still kicking major ass of course 😉
The current price for a game, be it for PC or console, varies from 30 to 60 euros. Games by bigger game studios tend to be expensive; smaller studio’s or indie games are often more affordable. But compared to the hundreds of retro-games you can play online or download for free, it’s no surprise that people love to go back to those games on occasion.
Having previously written about the DOOM release for phones and tablets, people who remember the great fun it brought back in the days are probably pleased to find that you can still buy DOOM on Steam. At €5 per game, or €15 for the DOOM Classic multipack (4 games in total) it brings hours of gameplay at a fraction of the cost. Even console classics like Halo, one of my favorites on XBox, are being released as a Steam Multipack. For just €40 you can buy 6 Halo games to enjoy for hours and hours.
But you can even go much, much cheaper. Dosgames offers a lot of DOS games for free. Of course, you need DosBox to run them on your state-of-the-art gaming pc (but that is also free). DOOM, Commander Keen, Blood, Quake and even one of my personal favorites, Jazz Jackrabbit, all for free! Seriously, this website can be a HUGE time sink if you want to escape your daily life.
What are your reasons to keep playing retro games?
Let us know in the comments or leave a message on Instagram!